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

Outer Brewster Island Facts

This bedrock island supports the most diverse assemblage of breeding waterbirds in Boston Harbor.
Managing Agency
Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR)
Agency Designation
Harbor Islands Reservation
Current Use
Park purposes.
Alternate Names
Outward Island
Harbor Location
Outer Harbor

Longitude
Latitude

42° 20' 23.8" North  (Approximate center of island.)
70° 52' 36.1" West
From Long Wharf
10 miles
On-island Circulation
Unimproved trails.
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
High bluffs along shore. Birds are aggressive during nesting: access is discouraged during this season.
GENERAL INFORMATION
Total Acreage
20.10  upland acres
Highest Elevation
78 ft.
Short History
The relative barrenness and rocky shoreline of Outer Brewster, also known as "Outward Island," precluded human use other than as a granite quarry in the 19th century or a site for coastal defense in the 20th. Battery Jewell was constructed during WW II. The battery consisted of two 6-inch radar controlled guns, and housed 125 men in three concrete barracks.
Vegetation
Low shrub thickets and rough fields cover Outer Brewster's rocky uplands. Staghorn sumac dominates the island's shrub communities, and saltspray rose is common in low, rocky areas near the shoreline. The only trees are a small stand of quaking aspen, and one individual each of apple, black cherry, and Siberian elm. One plant found on Outer Brewster, and not found elsewhere in the park, is slender-leaved goldenrod.
Wildlife
Not surprisingly, the outer islands have more of the types of intertidal plants and animals typically found on exposed rocky habitats. Outer Brewster provides the highest percentage of rocky intertidal substrate of any island in the park. Outer Brewster provides nesting habitat for abundant coastal water birds such as cormorants, wading birds, waterfowl, shorebirds, and gulls. Common Eider ducks nest in surprising abundance on the outer islands, including Outer Brewster, at the southern end of their range in the Western Atlantic. In addition to Eiders, uncommon nesting birds include Glossy Ibis which are found in the park only on Outer Brewster and adjacent Calf Island (2001–2003). The Brewsters support a breeding population of American Oyster Catchers, designated as a Partners in Flight species with high continental priority. Concentrations of harbor seals haul out on the Brewsters. Surveys of other mammals and terrestrial fauna are in progress for the island.
Geology
The island consists of exposed bedrock covered by fertile soil and is bounded by a rocky shore with steep cliffs. A rock formation by the western cove is referred to as "Pulpit Rock." On the northeast and southeast sides of the island, there is evidence of 19th century quarrying and a small "canal."
Water Features
A "fine spring of fresh water" and a small pond are described by Sweetser in 1882. A 16-foot well used by lobster fisherman DeGaust in the early 1900s is described by Snow in the 1930s.
Views and Vistas
Downtown Boston, Hull, Boston Light, The Graves Light, and the Brewsters island group comprise the views from Outer Brewster.
Buildings
Abandoned Battery Jewell's concrete barracks and desalinization plant, and gun batteries remain.
Fortifications
Battery Jewell: gun batteries, barracks, stand from 100-foot radar tower.
Other Structures
Quarry.
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