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Borden Flats Lighthouse

Fall River, Massachusetts
Built in 1881


Location:

In the middle of the mouth of the Taunton River in the city of Fall River, just south of I-195's Braga Bridge.

Latitude: 41° 42' 16" N
Longitude: 71° 10' 28" W

 

Historic Stories:

The lighthouse was built in 1881 on a dangerous reef in the middle of the Taunton River, to accommodate the ever increasing shipping traffic as Fall River became the “textile capital of the world”. It was used in warning mariners of the shallow waters surrounding its location.

Borden Flats Lighthouse was named after the Borden family, who were prominent residents of Fall River over generations. The most infamous member was Lizzie Borden, who was charged and acquitted of axing her parents to death in 1893.

With it’s somewhat remote location, mariners would wave and sound the fog bell as they passed by the light as a gesture of saying hello, and the keeper would reply with the same.
On September, in 1897, Keeper Herman Georgie was struck by an acute case of appendicitis. His wife rang the fog bell and waved her arms to flag down passing boats for nearly two days while the keeper laid in agony before mariners realized that she was not waving in friendship, but trying to get help. The keeper died from his illness.

borden flats light circa 1900

Vintage Image of Borden Flats light circa 1900. Image courtesy of US Coast Guard.

Keeper Joseph Meyer’s account of life at the light has been preserved in the station’s log, now housed in the National Archives. Winters sometimes found the river covered in ice floes, which surrounded the lighthouse. In 1912, the winter was so severe that it left Meyer standed on the beacon from January 4 to February 1. A tug was finally able to bring him ashore to get supplies, but had to leave the harbor on another mission before he was ready to return. He decided around midnight of that cold day to literally walk over the huge ice floes to the lighthouse, which had again converged together during the freezing weather. Part way on route he got caught in drift ice that was moving away from his destination, and spent the next couple of hours hopping across flat ice floes like giant slippery steps trying to get back safely to shore, which he succeeded. Because he was unable to get back to the beacon, the lighthouse failed to shine for the first time in seven years.

John H. Paul was keeper from 1912 to 1927. A month after he began his tenure at the beacon, on August 3, 1912, he was credited with saving one of two men who had overturned their boat near the lighthouse. One of the men couldn't swim and drowned immediately, the other clung to the boat until he was rescued by the keeper.

During the hurricane of 1938, which hit the New England coastline with a historical ferocity, Keeper Joseph Covo was one of the lucky ones who survived the experience in the tower. The beacon was moved a couple hundred feet from its original destination from the powerful storm surge.

The high winds and tidal surge from the storm left the lighthouse intact, but with a distinctive 5 degree tilt.
The government built a wider base around the lighthouse to protect it from future storms.

borden flats lighthouse

Image of Borden Flats light before restoration with red stripe.

Borden Flats light was provided with electricity in 1957 and automated in 1963.

Over the years the lghthouse fell into disrepair and was purchased at auction by James Nick Korstad of Portland, Oregon, about a decade ago, and who painstakingly restored and renovated the beacon for about 8 years, and set up the program for overnight stays for visitors to experience what previous keepers enjoyed. It has since been purchased by Kevin Ferias, continuing the tradition and vision of his predecessor, where visitors can stay overnight as part of the Light Keepers Overnight Educational Program.

 

Borden Flats lighthouse is believed to have two friendly protective spirits or gaurdian angels. One being Captain John Paul, the celebrated keeper mentioned above, and a young girl Lucy, who passed away at the beacon after a keeper tried to save her when her family's boat overturned from a rogue wave. They are considered as benign spirits and don't show themselves or make themselves known to visitors. Visitors to the lighthouse will notice no bird droppings, and birds will not perch themselves anywhere on the lighthouse structure. It is believed that this is part of the spirits' protection of the lighthouse and its guests.

 

Stay Overnight at Borden Flats Light

For a wonderful unique experience, visitors can stay overnight in this "sparkplug" style offshore lighthouse from April to December as part of the honorary Light Keepers Overnight Program. Transportation to and from the light station is provided by boat from the Borden Light Marina. Guest "keepers" need to be physically enough agile to climb from the boat a vertical steel rung ladder, up to 8 rungs. The lighthouse is comfortably equipped with solar electricity and an updated kitchen and bathroom, but visitors will find much of the rest of structure remains true to the history of lighthouses past, with most of the decor of the 1950s style. It has been fully reconstructed with most amenities. Two guests or "keepers" are allowed per night, and there are four floors to investigate and the sleeping quarters is located on the fourth level floor, or "Watchroom". Check out the website at BordenFlats.com.

My wife and I had the marvelous opportunity to stay there overnight on a late summer day in August, click here to read about our stay.

 

 

Places to Visit Nearby:

Along with plenty of shopping outlet malls and stores, Fall River contains an interesting array of museums to visit, including Battleship Cove, the world’s largest naval ship exhibit with at least five ships visitors can tour aboard.

Battleship Cove in Fall River These vessels include the mighty battleship USS Massachusetts, the destroyer USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., and PT boats used in the South Pacific during World War II.

The Marine Museum at Fall River, part of Batlleship Cove is also nearby to Borden Flats Lighthouse and features an exhibit honoring the Titanic. Nearly across the street, visitors will find the Old Colony and Fall River Railroad Museum. Visitors can also get a distant view of Borden Flats Lighthouse from the area. To enjoy walking along the shores of the Taunton River, the Fall River Heritage State Park is a history-oriented, public recreation area that covers 14 acres along the river.

Visitors can explore the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast/ Museum to grab a glimpse of one of the most controversial events of the day, or learn more including Fall River’s rich heritage from the Fall River Historical Society.

 

 

 

Directions:

Alternate Directions:

 

Contact Info:
Borden FLats Lighthouse
Keven M. Ferias
Light Keeper/Owner
kmf777@yahoo.com


My book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, provides special human interest stories from each of the 92 lighthouses, along with plenty of indoor and outdoor coastal attractions and tours you can explore. You'll find information about lighthouses you can stay overnight as well.

Look inside!

book of lighthouses in southern new england

 

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