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Graves Lighthouse

graves lighthouse

Boston, Massachusetts
Built in 1819


On a collection of ledges called "The Graves", just outside Boston Harbor.

Latitude: 42° 21' 48" N
Longitude: 70° 52' 09" W


Historic Stories:

The original lighthouse was equipped with a first order Fresnel lens, making it the most powerful light in New England (for some time) and the largest lens at 9 feet by 12 feet high, sitting on over 400 pounds of mercury. The beacon is the tallest lighthouse in the Boston area.

Even with its powerful light that saved many mariners from crashing on the ledges, there were still some vessels that shipwrecked near the lighthouse. One was a 400-foot freighter called the City of Salisbury, known as the “zoo ship” for its cargo of exotic zoo animals. It struck a reef near the Graves ledge and remained for a time, becoming a tourist attraction until it eventually split and sank. There were no lives lost at the mishap, but there was plenty of blame for Captain Lewis of the vessel.

areial view graves light
Graves Lighthouse.
Courtesy US Coast Guard.

Years later the Coast Guard investigation would clear Captain Lewis and his Boston pilot at the helm of any wrong doing, finding that “Government Chart #246 was incorrect” in indicating there was over thirty feet of water available, where clearly a portion of the ledge was not mapped.



Places to Visit Nearby:

Occasional tours are offered by the Boston Harbor Cruises and Friends Of Boston Harbor Islands pass by the lighthouse. Boston Harbor Island Park Service also passes close to the lighthouse on its 3 hour narrated summer tours to climb Boston Light on Little Brewster Island.

Many private lobster boats work around the lighthouse for daily catches that you may be able to catch a ride for close up views.


Contact Info:
Friends Of Boston Harbor Islands
349 Lincoln Street
Hingham MA 02043
Phone: (781) 740 4290

Boston Harbor Islands Park Service
408 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 228
Boston, MA 02110
Phone: (617) 223-8666


Boston's Waterfront Directions

Directions to Boston's Rowes Wharf for Harbor Cruises:

Directions to Boston's Long Wharf for Harbor Cruises




Local Boat Tours For Visitors

Boat cruises mentioned below may offer many types of cruises. While some may offer specific lighthouse cruises, some will pass by specific lighthouses as part of charters, narrated wildlife and historic tours, ferrying passengers, whale watching, fishing tours and other types of excursions. Contact info is provided to help you plan your special trips to New England’s shorelines. Enjoy!

Boston Harbor Islands Park Service
Escorted trips by the National Park rangers are provided to Little Brewster Island, and visitors can climb Boston light. Boat trips run every weekend during the summer out to Little Brewster Island where you can see and climb up the tower of Boston Harbor Light. Views of the two other historic lighthouses of Boston Harbor – Long Island Head Light and The Graves Light - are included in the tour. Boston Light Tours begin on mid-June and run through early October. Tours depart from the Moakley Courthouse dock on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 10:00 am and 1:30 pm. 

(617) 223-8666
(617) 223-8676



Boston Harbor Cruises
One Long Wharf
Boston, Mass. 02110
(617) 223-8666
(877) 733-925



Friends Of Boston Harbor Islands
Besides Boston Harbor tours, there are also the Southern Lighthouse Tour, and the Northern Lighthouse tours offered. Saturdays and Sundays join them for their brunch tours of Boston's treasured landmarks, including four of the area's historic lighthouses - Graves Light, Deer Island Light, Boston Light and Long Island Light.

349 Lincoln Street
Hingham MA 02043
Phone: (781) 740 4290
Fax: (781) 749 9924



My book, Lighthouses and Coastal Attractions of Southern New England: Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, published by Schiffer Publishing, 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.

In the book you'll find local stories from all lighthouses in the Boston area region, including more stories about Graves light, and more details about the City of Salisbury zoo ship, and lots of Boston attractions and boat tours.

Look inside!



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