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Boston Harbor Islands, A national park area Click to enlarge Click to enlarge

Great Brewster Island Facts

This largest of the Brewster islands features eroding cliffs, a salt marsh, tidal pools, and a large gull colony.
Managing Agency
Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR)
Agency Designation
Harbor Islands Reservation
Current Use
Park purposes.
Alternate Names
Greater Brewster
Harbor Location
Outer Harbor

Longitude
Latitude

42° 20' 25.8" North  (Approximate center of island.)
70° 53' 41.0" West
From Long Wharf
8.8 miles
On-island Circulation
The island has one path that leads to the summit of the northern bluff and several spur paths along the remains of WWII era roads and paths.
VISITOR SERVICES & FACILITIES
Hours
9:00 am - sunset.
Piers/Docks
No
Visitor Season
0
Boat slips
0
Visitor Staff
No
Moorings
0
Guided Tours
No
Park Boats
None
Lifeguards
No
Car Access
No
Toilets
flush - No
composting - No
Campsites
0 (capacity ea.: 0)
Picnic Areas
Cooking Grills
No
No
Group Campsites
0 (capacity ea: 0)
Refreshments
No
Camping Capacity
0
Drinking Water
No
Trails
Yes
Visitor Cautions
The bunkers are locked due the presence of asbestos. Birds are aggressive during nesting season: visitation is discouraged during that time.
GENERAL INFORMATION
Total Acreage
68
18.61  upland acres
48.95  intertidal acres
Highest Elevation
105 ft.
Short History
Great Brewster Island was named for Elder William Brewster, the first preacher and teacher for the Plymouth Colony. Thousands of years before the English settlers named the island, Native Americans used it as a summer residence and utilized its natural resources. In more resent times the island has been home to summer cottages for local families and for U.S. soldiers who manned an observation post during WW II. The military post included 90mm rapid-fire guns, searchlight stations, and a command post that aided in controlling the harbor’s minefield.
Vegetation
Apple trees, pear trees, sumac, beach roses, grasses, Phragmites
Wildlife
Overview survey in progress.
Geology
The northern drumlin is the highest point in the outer harbor, rising to an elevation of 105 feet. Between this drumlin and the smaller drumlin to the south is a marsh area that is seasonally inundated at high tide. A sandspit, exposed at low tide, extends for nearly a mile from the southwest side of the island towards George's Island. Mussel beds surround the island and connect Little Brewster at low tide.
Water Features
Further research required to determine whether the circa 1720s well or 1940s military water supply facilities remain.
Views and Vistas
The northern bluff offers spectacular views of the outer harbor and Boston skyline.
Fortifications
90mm gun batteries; bunkers (2)
Other Structures
Remnants for WWII era pier and 1970s pier; visitor shelter, granite seawall; stone wall; composting toilet.
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