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

Thompson Island Facts

This island of diverse habitats is home to a school and Outward Bound education center.
Managing Agency
Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center
Agency Designation
Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center; Willauer School
Current Use
Education; park purposes.
Harbor Location
Inner Harbor

Longitude
Latitude

42° 18' 53.6" North  (Approximate center of island.)
71° 0' 53.3" West
From Long Wharf
4.33 miles
On-island Circulation
ACCESS IS RESTRICTED. Approximately one half mile of paved roads are located in the school complex and two miles of gravel roads extend along the length of the island. Paths extend throughout the campus area and into woodland areas.
VISITOR SERVICES & FACILITIES
Hours
By arrangement.
Piers/Docks
Yes
Visitor Season
0
Boat slips
0
Visitor Staff
Yes
Moorings
0
Guided Tours
Yes
Park Boats
Park tour boat.
Lifeguards
No
Car Access
No
Toilets
flush - Yes
composting - Yes
Campsites
0 (capacity ea.: 0)
Picnic Areas
Cooking Grills
Yes
No
Group Campsites
0 (capacity ea: 0)
Refreshments
No
Camping Capacity
0
Drinking Water
Yes
Trails
Yes
Visitor Cautions
ACCESS IS RESTRICTED: Unsupervised use of rope courses is dangerous and is marked with warning signs.
GENERAL INFORMATION
Total Acreage
169.90  upland acres
Highest Elevation
78 ft.
Short History
In 1626, Thompson Island was a Native American trading post. In 1833, the Boston Asylum for Boys was moved to the island, and in 1835 the asylum merged with the Boston Farm School Society to become the Soton Farm and Trade School. Its vocational and farming emphasis remained until the middle of this century when it was renamed Thompson Academy.
Vegetation
The island is a mix of hardwood tree stands, remnant pear and apple orchards, ornamental trees and shrubs, open meadows, shrubby areas of successional growth, sumac groves, saltmarsh grasses, and manicured lawns, including a soccer field.
Wildlife
Overview survey in progress.
Geology
The island’s highest drumlin rises to an elevation of 78 feet on the northeastern half of the island, where the school complex is located. The remainder of the island is composed of low rolling hills dissected by a wetland and saltmarsh. At low tide, a sandspit and mudflats on the south side of the island almost connect with Squantum.
Water Features
Further study required.
Views and Vistas
Views to Dorchester, Downtown Boston, South Boston, Quincy (Squantum), and Long, Moon, Spectacle, and Castle Islands.
Buildings
The following is a rough list of buildings, and foundations -- further verification is needed. 1. gymnasium 2. Picnic and boat Shed 3. Maintenance Building 4. Corn Barn 5. Small shed 6. Foundation of Poultry barn 7. Composting Toilet near orchard 8. Staff residence along campus access road 9. Foundation of administration building designed by Bulfinch 10. Gardner Hall 11. Willauer School building 12. Office building 13. Dormitory 14. Dormitory 15. Faculty house 16. Faculty house 17. Dining hall 18. Foundation of compost shed 19. Foundation of weather station 20. Foundation of root cellar 21. Foundation of barn (barely evident)
Fortifications
None
Other Structures
Pier; stone walls; wood retaining wall; Alpine towers and ropes courses; fencing for livestock (pigs), interpretive signs throughout the island.
Comments
Today, the island is owned by the Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center. It is home to the Willauer School and the site of an Outward Bound program that brings together more than 5,000 students and adults each year in an outdoor learning program. Special event and conference facilities are also available. Public tours are provided on summer weekends and at other times by arrangement.
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