Monday, June 1, 2009

Rare Chance to Visit Rainsford Island

Rainsford Island is one of the more unique isles in the Boston Harbor Islands national park area. For nearly two centuries, the island was home to a quarantine hospital, cemetery, almshouse, veterans' home, and boys' reformatory. This painting by Robert Salmon in the Museum of Fine Arts depicts Rainsford Island in its heyday in the 1840s. 

The island is uninhabited today, but visitors can see the rubble of the old Greek Revival hospital and keepers' home and read the inscriptions carved into the seaside rocks by previous residents of the island. It's a great island to explore, but since there is no ferry service to Rainsford Island, the only way those without a boat can get ashore is to join the Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands on their annual trip. Their next Rainsford Island trip is scheduled for this Saturday, June 6, from 10 AM to 2 PM. (They are also running a trip to Great Brewster Island, another isle unserved by public ferry but a great place to explore, on June 21.) I've done the Friends' trips to both Rainsford and Great Brewster and highly recommend them. Click here for more information on the tours, and, for a great traveling companion, pick up a copy of Discovering the Boston Harbor Islands.   

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