UMASS MAG ONLINENavigationMastheadIn MemoriamAdvertiseContact UsArchivesMagazine Home

Spring 2004

Departments

Exchange

Around the Pond

Great Sport

Books

Freeze-Frame

Foundation News

Extended Family

Connections

Zip 01003

Features

The Cosby Principle

The Wildest Place in Boston

Manhattan's Hottest Property

Setting the Record Straight

Feature

Treasure Islands
Plan your own Boston Harbor Islands adventure

Boston Harbor
illustration by Brian Jenkins
TREASURE ISLANDS

1 Getting Around: George’s Island is the transportation hub for the islands. Just seven miles from downtown Boston, it has a large dock, picnic grounds, open fields, paved walkways, a parade ground and a gravel beach. Guided tours of historic (and immense, with a perimeter over a mile long) Fort Warren are offered. George’s also has a snack bar. Ferries ($10/roundtrip) provide access to the islands while free water shuttles let you travel among them.

2 Spectacle Island: Capped by 3.7 million cubic yards of fill from the Big Dig project, the island opens this summer with a new visitors center featuring a café and exhibits. There’s also a marina, two beaches and five miles of trails. With the highest elevation of all the islands, Spectacle offers 360-degree views of the Boston skyline and harbor.

3 Boston Light: Little Brewster Island is home to the nation’s last staffed offshore lighthouse. Stop by the small museum and climb the 76 steps to the top of this 1783 beauty. Manned by a crew of three Coast Guard keepers and one dog, the lighthouse is occasionally open for public tours.

4 Castle Island: Legend has it that the friends of an officer shot dead in a duel over a card game supposedly sealed his killer alive in a chamber in the fort’s dungeons. Ten years later, a moody soldier named Edgar Allan Poe heard about the incident and used it as the basis for his story, “The Cask of Amontillado.” Castle Island, accessible only by private boat, was connected to the mainland in 1891 and is the oldest continually fortified military site in the United States. Fort Independence was established in 1634; the present fort was built between 1834 and 1851.

5 Waste Not: Deer Island is home to the Deer Island Waste Water Treatment Plant, serving 2.5 million people in 43 greater Boston communities. It’s the main reason why the harbor is so clean these days. To tour the facility, call (617) 539-4248.

6 Landlubber’s Choice: The 244-acre peninsula known as Worlds End shares many of the features found on the harbor islands. Overlooking Hingham Bay, it is formed by two drumlins and has rocky beaches, ledges, cliffs, and marsh. Many features from Frederick Law Olmsted’s original landscape design remain, including gravel paths, formal tree plantings and hedgerows bordering old farm fields. In addition, Worlds End offers trails for nature study, and, by permission, horseback riding.

7 Kayaking: The Hingham Harbor Islands are not on the ferry or water shuttle routes so there’s a blessed lack of boat traffic. On a summer day, you’ll likely find other paddlers stopping off for informal picnics.

8 History Hike: At 188 acres, Peddock’s is one of the largest, most diverse islands. It consists of four headlands connected by sand or gravel bars, called tombolos, and boasts the longest shoreline of any harbor island. Peddock’s features hiking trails through marsh and forestland. Make sure to visit the overgrown ruins of Fort Andrews. Active in harbor defense from 1904 to the end of World War II, 26 structures remain, including guardhouses, prisoner-of-war barracks, stables, a gymnasium and a firehouse. More than 1,000 Italian prisoners were held at the fort during World War II. A cottage community of summer residents shares the island with the fort. One islander working in her garden found what turned out to be the remains of a Native American man, carbon-dated to between 4,000 and 6,000 years ago, the oldest intact skeleton ever discovered in New England.

9 Pitch a Tent: A favorite camping destination, 62-acre Lovell’s Island has trails that pass by dunes and woods, picnic areas, the remains of Fort Standish, and a supervised swimming beach. (Camping is allowed on four of the islands. To reserve free tent sites on Lovell’s and Peddock’s islands, call (617) 727-7676; to reserve sites on Grape and Bumpkin islands (reservation fee $8), call (877) 422-6762. Camping is by permit only.)

For more information:
Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area,

(617) 223-8666. Open early May to mid-Oct. 9 a.m.-sunset. Free. www.bostonislands.com. Swimming at your own risk is allowed on Bumpkin and Grape Islands. Lovell’s has a supervised swimming beach.

Boston Harbor Cruises, (617) 223-8666, (617) 227-4321. See the harbor islands on a narrated boat tour. Ask about special theme and nature cruises narrated by park rangers. Round-trip $8, seniors $7, under 12 $6. www.bostonharborcruises.com


[top of page]

The Wildest Place in Boston

Wildest Place: more images

Treasure Islands

Treasure Islands: larger image

© 2004 University of Massachusetts Amherst. Site Policies.
This site is maintained by lcahillane@admin.umass.edu