Long Island Head Lighthouse

Boston, Massachusetts
Long Island Head Lighthouse is a unique and historic beacon on Long Island in the Boston Harbor. The lighthouse was established in 1819.
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About This Location

Long Island Head Lighthouse, located on Long Island in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts, has a rich history dating back to the early 19th century. Here’s an overview of the key points related to this historic lighthouse:

Why it was needed and designated placement: Long Island Head Lighthouse was established in 1819 to serve as a navigational aid for ships entering Boston Harbor from Broad Sound. The lighthouse was strategically placed on Long Island’s northeastern point to guide vessels safely into the harbor.

Establishment and additional buildings: The original lighthouse, known as “Inner Harbor Light,” was a 20-foot stone tower. Over the years, it underwent several replacements and improvements. In 1844, it became one of the earliest cast-iron lighthouse structures in the United States. In 1881, a conical cast-iron structure replaced the previous lighthouse, accompanied by a new wooden keeper’s house. Finally, in 1900-01, the current brick tower was constructed. An oil house was also added to the station in 1892.

Changes to the lighthouse: The lighthouse has undergone multiple transformations. It started as a stone tower, then became cast iron, followed by a conical cast-iron structure, and finally, the current brick tower was built in 1900-01. The last major renovation occurred in 1902 when the brick tower was painted white.

Lightkeepers: Charles Beck served as the keeper for twenty-eight years from 1825 to 1853. Over the years, various keepers and their families lived on the island, maintaining the light and ensuring its operation.

Lighthouse specifications: The current Long Island Head Lighthouse is a cylindrical brick tower standing 52 feet tall with a focal height of 120 feet. It has a characteristic flashing white light every 2.5 seconds and a range of 6 nautical miles. The tower is painted white with a black lantern.

National Register of Historic Places: Long Island Head Lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on June 15, 1987, under the name “Long Island Head Light.” The reference number assigned to the lighthouse by the National Park Service is 87001481.

Ownership and maintenance: The lighthouse was transferred to the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area in 2011. While the island and lighthouse are currently closed to the public, future plans for accessibility may change with the ownership transfer to the National Park Service.

Visiting Long Island Head Lighthouse today is not generally open to the public due to its restricted status. However, the transfer to the National Park Service suggests the possibility of future public access and tours, making it an exciting prospect for lighthouse enthusiasts and history buffs. Access to the island is typically by bridge, connecting it to Quincy, Massachusetts.

Lighthouse Specs

  • Originally Constructed: 1819
  • Current Tower Constructed: 1900-01
  • First Lit: 1901 (current tower)
  • Construction: Brick
  • Tower Shape: Cylindrical
  • Height: 52 feet
  • Focal Height: 120 feet
  • Markings: White with a black lantern
  • Characteristic: Flashing white every 2.5 seconds
  • Range: 6 nautical miles
  • Status: Active
  • NRHP Number: 87001481

Location

Address: Long Island, Boston, Massachusetts
Place GPS Coordinates: 42.330278, -70.957694
Parking GPS Coordinates: 42.330278, -70.957694
Parking Notes: The lighthouse is located on an island so no parking is available near the tower. Sadly, the lighthouse cannot easily be spotted from the mainland. It is best seen from boat or plane.

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