We had a terrific Fourth of July weekend, New England style. Hard to believe that I had five days off from work, and that it's over already -- boy, that went fast.
On Friday, we rode our bikes over to the Moakley Federal Courthouse in South Boston (yes, that's where all of the pre-trial proceedings are being conducted for captured fugitive/mob boss James "Whitey" Bulger) where we caught a boat headed out to Little Brewster Island in Boston Harbor.
The island is home to Boston Light, the first lighthouse built in the United States. The original structure dates back to 1716, but was destroyed by British forces as they withdrew from Massachusetts in 1776. The tower was re-built in 1783, and in the mid-1800s was raised to its present height of 89 feet. If you can stand one more piece of trivia about the lighthouse, I will tell you that it’s the only lighthouse to still be actively staffed by the U.S. Coast Guard.
Once on the island, we were pleasantly surprised that despite its historic importance, visitors are still allowed to climb to the top of the lighthouse (in small groups, via 76 steps and two steep ladders). It was pretty tight quarters at the top, but offered a great view of the harbor.
The folks staffing the lighthouse are really into their jobs. In fact, the lady who currently serves as the civilian lightkeeper dresses in garb from year's past - long checked dress, big bonnet -- and greeted us as our boat pulled up dockside, a big smile on her face and waving her white handkerchief. After sharing a brief history of the island, she sent us on our way to the lighthouse where other staff members guided us to the top. On our way back to the boat, the lightkeeper gave us all homemade chocolate chip cookies, and with a big, authentic smile on her face, thanked us all for visiting the island.
If you're ever in Boston with a couple of hours to spare, I'd recommend a visit to Little Brewster Island and Boston Light, especially if you're a history buff.