Wanderlusting: George’s Island
“Roll on, deep and dark blue ocean, roll. Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain. Man marks the earth with ruin, but his control stops with the shore.” ~ Lord Byron
Guys I have failed! Utterly FAILED in my writing duties! I have talked, and talked. AND TALKED about George’s Island, yet I have not given it the true glory it so deserves!
HOW HOW could I be such a slacker?
I am going to fix that NOW!
Having escaped for a weekend adventure on the South Shore and seen a spectacular sunrise, I was ready for the next phase of the trip, the reason we go down in the first place. Our annual trip to the Boston Harbor Islands.
Boston Harbor Islands
The Boston Harbor Islands are comprised of thirty-four Islands and peninsulas. With gorgeous views of the city and surrounding towns, you can take a ferry from Long Wharf in Boston, The Hull Ferry Port, or from the Shipyard in Hingham. You can also privately charter a boat, or kayak out to certain Islands.
Each island offers something different, from exploring Fort Warren on George’s Island, walking the trails on Spectacle, or camping on Bumpkin. There are also loads of activities from old fashioned baseball games, to yoga, to looking for sea glass, there is literally an island for everyone! To channel Oprah, “You get an island and you get an island and YOU get an Island.”
But seriously I really do want an island! But I digress….
Hingham Shipyard offers a ferry service to several of the Harbor Islands, saving residence and visitors on the South Shore a trip into Boston. Starbucks in hand we “walked the plank” to board the boat.
The ferry ride is about a half hour and makes stops at two other islands before arriving at George’s Island.
The island itself is comprised of thirty-nine acres with a further intertidal zone of fourteen acres.
It has a beachy area, that while you can wade into, swimming is not recommended. There is also a welcome center where you can buy souvenirs as well as food and a large grassy areas where people can lay out and picnic.
From the West side, the island has a perfect view of the Boston skyline, and from the East you can see Boston Lighthouse.
Fort Warren is a civil war era fort constructed between 1833 and 1861 and is named after Joseph Warren, an American Revolutionary War hero who sent Paul Revere on his infamous ride. The fort was built to not only defend Boston during the Civil War, but was also used as a Confederate prison. It was in use through the end of World War II when it was permanently decommissioned in 1947.
Built in a pentagonal shape which was unusual at the time, it was designed to best use the island’s terrain. It was part of the military’s third defense system of US fortification also known as seacoast defense.
Prior to the use of airplanes, America’s shores could only be breached by ship, which made coastal forts a sound economical alternative to other military defense systems. it was the fifth largest of the forty-two third defense forts. Made of granite, much of the original fort still stands today.
Exploring Fort Warren
Having officially been declared a historical site, in 1961 Fort Warren was renovated and reopened to the public. Literally nothing is off limits making the fort seem like an adult playground as you explore the tunnels, and secret passageways that are scattered along the corridors. While the weapons have been removed, even the gun emplacements are open, offering spectacular views from atop the fort. There is even a ghost, The Lady in Black, who folklore says haunts one of the darkest passageways in the fort.
One of my favorite sections is near the front of the fort where you literally have to squeeze through a window sized opening. Once through, it opens up into a dark passageway that you can stand up in and explore. It is at once creepy and incredibly cool.
Despite the vast size, you can easily walk around the whole island in a couple hours. And the fact that very little is limited makes it a fun and exciting place to visit. Every time I go, I discover something different and new.
This visit we spent a lot of time in the kitchens and the barracks. Along the way we discovered some birds that had just hatched…
And when we stopped for our picnic with gorgeous views of Boston lighthouse we were greeted with lots and lots of seagulls.
Including some that were a bit greedy trying to take our food.
It wasn’t just perfect, but also one of my favorite ways to spend a Summer’s day in Boston.
Have you ever been to George’s Island or any of the other Harbor Islands? Do you like to explore old forts? How has your Summer gone? As always I love to hear from you guys!