Twenty-two Friends celebrated a beautiful day at the end of the summer season by catching a ride on the MassDOT ferry from Hingham out into Boston Harbor. When the ferry stopped at Georges Island, we were the only passengers to disembark. And we had the island to ourselves!
Georges Island is the home of historic Fort Warren, a Civil War-era fort known for its graceful granite archways. A National Park Service ranger gave us an excellent tour. Because Britain blockaded the harbor and invaded cities from New Orleans to Bangor, Maine, in the aftermath of the War of 1812, President James Madison determined to protect the nation’s borders with fortifications. Fort Warren, one of 42 forts built in the ensuing years, is named for Revolutionary War hero Dr. Joseph Warren, who sent Paul Revere on his famous ride and was later killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill.
Begun in 1833, it wasn’t completed until 1861. During the Civil War, it was used as a prison for Confederate soldiers (some 2,300 of them) including the Confederate Vice-President and political leader Alexander H. Stephens. It was decommissioned in 1950 after World War II after 100 years of use.
The glacial action that shaped the Cape also shaped Georges Island. It created a drumlin, or small hill, which was perfectly situated at the mouth of the narrows to protect Boston. While the harbor has more than 50 square miles and 30 islands, only one narrow channel is deep enough for ocean-going vessels to navigate safely and this was right in front of Fort Warren.
Thanks to Myles Marcus for organizing this trip, Bob Smith for photos, and Louise Vivona-Miller for photos and trip report.