Deer Island Light

July 23, 2019

Deer Island Light, Boston, Massachusetts

The original light was a sparkplug type light on a caisson, activated in 1890.  It was replaced in 1982 with a fiberglass tower.


Location: On the southerly end of the spit making out 1/4 mile to the southward from Deer Island, northerly side of the easterly end of President Roads, Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. 
Deer Island Light
Station Established: 1890
First Lit: 1890
Operational: Yes
Automated: 1960
Foundation Material: cast iron & Concrete Caisson
Construction Material: Original tower- Cast Iron – Present tower – fiber glass
Tower Shape: Cylindrical
Markings: Brown cylindrical fiberglass tower on cast iron & concrete caisson
Relationship to Other Structures: Integral 
Original Lens:
Tower Height: 51 feet
Range: – White 14 miles, red 10 miles
Original Optic: Fifth Order Fresnel lens 
Present Optic: Automated plastic optic – VRB-25
First Keeper: John Farley
Current Use: Active aid to navigation 
Fog Signal: Originally a fog bell- now automated horn with 1 blast every 10 

Historical Information:

* In 1832 The Boston Marine Society petitioned Congress for $3,000 for the placement of a stone beacon at Deer Point Island. This marker served as a navigational aid for almost 60 years.
* In 1885 The Lighthouse Board recommended that a light and fog signal was needed because of the narrow & devious passages.
* Deer Island Light was a sparkplug type. It was built for about $50,000 in 1890.
* Original construction consists of a circular foundation- pier supporting a 3 story dwelling with a veranda with boat davits, circular parapet and a cast iron cylinder sunk 4’ into the bottom of the harbor. The lower portion of the cylinder was filled with concrete and it contained water cisterns. The upper part of the foundation was lined with a brick and served as a cellar. Then there was an iron spiral stairway, which led from the cellar to the top floor.
* It was painted a kind of Chocolate brown. It had a fixed white light. It was changed to a 2 second red flash every 30 seconds. It was changed so it wasn’t confused with Boston Light.
* By the 70’s it became apparent the light had deteriorated to the point of being unsafe.
* In 1982 the old iron lighthouse was removed. It took about 3 weeks to do. A fiberglass tower replaced the old landmark. It resembled a matchstick set on the foundation. There were many complaints that the white tower blended in with the background of Deer Island.
* In March of 1983 Great Point Lighthouse on Nantucket was destroyed in a storm. The Coast Guard decided to replace it with a fiberglass tower that they removed from Deer Island.
* A 33’ foot brown fiberglass tower replaced the white one at Deer Island Light.

Researched and written by Linda Herman, a volunteer through the Chesapeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society.