(EDITOR’S NOTE) Mayor Romeo Thekan has called a meeting in her office on March 24th, from 5pm to 6pm, to discuss Ten Pound Island. Everyone is welcome.


Ten Pound Island with fish and lobster hatchery, air station, lighthouse, keeper’s house, and oil house. Photo submitted by Toby Pett.

Airfields_MA_NE_htm_48ed180aTen Pound presently

After reading the Gloucester Daily Times’s article about the city’s Recreational Boating Committee’s recommendations on how better to serve boaters, I have been looking at old photos and reading about Ten Pound Island. This tiny island located at the eastern end of Gloucester Harbor has a storied and fascinating history. The timeline (see below) was created to help give an overview.

The following is the part of the article that caught my attention:“Perhaps the most innovative idea in the report is to consider creating a community boat house — possibly similar to the house boats moored along the Annisquam River — and a dock upon Ten Pound Island that could host the Gloucester High School and YMCA community sailing and boating skills programs, as well as other public programs and access for rowing and kayaking.”

I am looking forward to learning more about the possibilities for Ten Pound Island and trust that our Mayor and community leaders will do a thoughtful study to create a comprehensive plan on how to co-exist with the birds that breed and nest on the Island. In our region, we have so many great examples to follow on ways to manage land for wildlife; two that come to mind immediately are the Plum Island Piping Plovers and the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge.

I think it important our community understand that more than likely, the vegetation found growing on Ten Pound is in a transitory state and that over time, if left to naturalize, will become a forest. The shrubs and brushy growth, so ideal for nesting birds, will eventually give way to hardwood trees, which may not be the best habitat for shore birds.

There is the hope that developing trails and managing the island flora will create an even better and more permanent sanctuary for our cherished wildlife. Today the Island is only accessible to private boaters. If a community dock were built at the site of the preexisting dock and trails were created and well maintained, just imagine the enjoyment and educational experiences Ten Pound Island could provide for all.


8278392407_187a8b6139_bTen Pound Island Timeline

1644 Early settlers graze rams on the Island.

1817 Mariner Amos Story famously reports seeing a sea serpent (along with many others) near the Island. See account below.

1821 Ten Pound Island Lighthouse Station is established to safely guide mariners through Gloucester’s Inner Harbor.

1833-1849 Amos Story serves as Ten Pound Island Lighthouse Keeper.

1880 Winslow Homer stays with the lighthouse keeper during the summer creating over 50 watercolor paintings.

1881 Present conical cast iron tower, lined with brick, replaces original stone tower. Wooden keepers house is constructed.

1889 U.S. Fish and lobster hatchery is established.

1925 U.S. Coast Guard establishes first in the country air station, primarily to capture rumrunners during Prohibition.

1940 Lighthouse keeper’s wife Evelyn Hopkins honors Edward Snow, the Flying Santa who dropped Christmas presents from a plane for lighthouse keepers’ children, by nailing “Merry Christmas” boldly in newspaper, which could be read from the sky.

1954 Fish hatchery abandoned.

1956 Ten Pound island Light Station is decommissioned and replaced by a modern optic. The original fresnel lens is on display at the Maine Lighthouse Museum in Rockland.

1965 Keepers dwelling razed.

1988 The Lighthouse Preservation Society initiates restoration of Ten Pound Island Light.

1989 A modern optic was installed atop the tower and relit as a Federal aid to navigation.

1995 The oil house is restored.

1996 -1997 (*Possibly longer, checking dates) Shuttle to and from the Island is provided by the Gloucester Harbor Shuttle.

Currently, Ten Pound Island serves as an active aid to navigation.


“Merry Christmas” written with newspaper hammered to the ground

*    *     *

Amos Story sea serpent sighting account: “It was between the hours of twelve and one o’clock when I first saw him and he continued in sight for an hour and a half. I was setting on the shore, and was about twenty rods [330 feet] from him when he was nearest to me. His head appeared shaped much like that of the sea turtle, and he carried his head from ten to twelve inches above the surface of the water. His head at that distance appeared larger than the head of any dog I ever saw. From the back of his head to the next part of him that was visible, I should judge to be three or four feet. He moved very rapidly through the water. I should say a mile in two, or, at most, in three minutes. I saw no bunches on his back. On this day, I did not see more than ten or twelve feet of his body.”

In a separate sighting, Story’s wife, “a woman held in high esteem for her veracity” noted through a telescope what at first she believed to be a log that had washed ashore, until it moved, that is. Throughout the month, more and more witnesses told similar stories of a sleek brown serpent-like creature in Gloucester Harbor.











More Photos Here



009-cg-aerial-1950-2Top photo submitted by Toby Pett


  1. Melissa Abbott shares on the Facebook post. Thank you Melissa for writing!

    “This is a photo of Ten Pound Island #gloucesterma back when it was a fish hatchery. The hanger and ramp on the left was for a seaplane. The Island was set on fire and the buildings burnt in the 1960’s by the City. I went to the bonfire and watched it from the boulevard after the fireworks on 4th of July and I believe it was 1962 or maybe 1963. First they had the fireworks and there was a big carnival up at Stage Fort Park. Then they torched the buildings on Ten Pound. The place was filled with Rats and was derelict so this was during the Urban Renewal times when they wanted to get rid of everything that was downtrodden and dirty. It was like GLOUCESTER had this shame at the time and they wanted to look better to the world because it was so old and stinky. I guess when you smell like a pig farm on one side and a heap of rotting fish on the other you get a complex or something ( or so it was at the time. Now that Gloucester no l get smells too bad, everyone forgot about it but it was an issue on many levels. People made fun of Gloucester because if it. Naturally, no one really cares but all the do Gooders of that era wanted to clean things up. Anyway, they tore down half the city and burnt all the buildings on Ten Pound to boot. A bunch of other buildings mysteriously caught on fire at that time and there was a rumor it was all arson. Wharf where Capt. Joes is was a huge mysterious fire around 1962. I saw it and it was the smokiest fire ever and was visible from Rockport. When you are out there ( on Ten Pound) and you find the light green glass with chicken wire in it, that was the windows in those fish hatchery buildings. There is also a lot of light blue and lilac glass too and I always wonder what building it was from and if it was from part of the fish hatchery or maybe from Hathorne Hotel. Yes, the city was appalled when all the rats swam ashore and infested Rocky Neck!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Melissa adds, “You are Welcome, BTW, during WW 2 was a very tough time for locals in Gloucester and while everyone went to War, the local endeavors like the Fish Hatchery on Ten Pound got abandoned. My grandfather was a Dr. in Gloucester during those times and no one had any money to pay for services. Barter was huge in Gloucester and my grandfather delivered babies and did surgery for codfish on the back step of his Middle Street home. In a way, people really helped each other then, everyone was in the same boat.”

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Who is”I”? The author of this biased piece should not be anonymous.

    A really great idea would be to leave the island alone. It serves a wonderful purpose by simply being undeveloped and beautifully situated in the harbor.
    Does every bit of real estate have to be modified?


  4. Kim first time I have seen this from above and great history too I do plan on sharing with the folks and transplants I know and love 🙂 Dave & Kim 🙂

    P.S. Some very classic cards and items 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can really only address the high school sailing program suggestion made here.
    I am not sure the authors really looked at program needs.
    Our season is of course school spring and fall semesters, not summer. For example this year we meet with students on March 10 and start sailing on March 14. We are into our season when the harbormaster patrol boats and city launch start up. The Coast Guard is operating of course.
    Practices and races are after school. Students arrive from Gloucester and Rockport and other towns after school. They change into dry suits, essential when there is still ice floating in the harbor, talk plans over with the coach and we ferry them out to the floats at about 3 pm. If we have a race, the visiting team arrives by bus and joins us in the shore station to dress and gear up. That is twelve students racing plus others for backup, coaches etc. We race in either the inner or outer harbor and I try to get them all ashore before dark. Then suits including students in them are washed down with fresh water because even if they have not capsized they are drenched. Then everything is put away and the Boston Latin bus departs and our team disburses in parent cars and bikes and on foot.
    Now think about Ten Pound Island 🙂
    We need a warm building with fresh water for washing, bathrooms, changing rooms and electricity to charge radio batteries and light because it is getting dark when the kids leave in early spring and late fall.
    The logistics and the facility requirements really would take major development out there. The YMCA summer sailing camp might be able to use it, but probably the same way they do now on Friday. They spend every Friday there – Pirate Day. However they are summer only, no dry suits or ice floes and during the day not packed into a few hours after school. I would love to see a safe landing there for that purpose alone. However the more elaborate suggestions I think require more thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. By the way, since I do not have to get up for an hour or two – about that Recreational Boating report.
    How on earth do you publish a report on recreational use of Gloucester Harbor without discussing the:
    International Dory Committee
    Pilot Gig Program at Maritime Gloucester (Gloucester Gig Rowers)
    Seine Boats (only for a few weeks but central to boating interest and Rogers St. economy)
    The Project Adventure red dories which are presently at Ram Island
    Facilities for multiple other small rowed and paddled boats and boards?
    For most of the year, except for a few weekends in the summer, the recreational boating I see is overwhelmingly dominated by the dory rowers and the gig rowers and small boat fishermen chasing stripers and such. We small boat sailors are out there but only after school (except for Gordon Baird).
    I think the report is overly focused on yachts, but the yachts are a small part of the total recreational use of the harbor averaged over the year. Very little space in the report is devoted to the most prevalent recreational users.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Nice work Kim. I rather like the island as it is, a mostly natural island in the midst of a busy harbor. I would clean it up, allow the specimen hardwood trees to grow to be distinctive in their appearance, build walkways, put in a few benches and picnic tables, and schedule the harbor shuttle to stop there. Maybe bring back the rams !!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Nice to read about the history of 10 pound island. Perhaps it could be restored as a nature preserve / park that recreational boaters and others could visit and /or maybe have a picnic. Maybe put a few sheep out there? Small museum for Winslow Homer with copies of the 50 paintings he did there?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I go around that island several times a day on the water shuttle in the summertime.
    It would be wonderful to be able to get out onto that island for a little while.
    Public access would be nice but not sure how doable it really is.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I have signed a petition to stop the development once I thought about egrets and some spawning fish. Looking forward to city meeting in March to become better informed.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. In more recent history, for several years in the 1990’s when our kids were young (~15-20 years ago?) the summer Gloucester Harbor Shuttle, for like a $3 all-day pass with underwriting from a CATA public access grant, offered folks the opportunity to disembark at Ten Pound Island as part of it’s regular Gloucester harbor circuit.

    It was a wonderful, unique jaunt, for tourists & locals alike, for a picnic, a swim at the little beach, and exploring the island (watch out for the Poison Ivy), with views of harbor activity from a unique perspective.

    The pontoon shuttle just used a simple folding wooden ramp to get on & off at the beach, usually taking off your footwear. Low impact ! Fun memories ! Ten Pound Island is an underutilized public asset – Bring back our easy public access to it, for those who don’t have their own boats !

    Liked by 1 person

  12. In the late 1990’s, possibly 1996, Ten Pound Island was an optional stop for the harbor shuttle. My two young grandsons and I picked up subs at Virgillio’s, packed our art supplies and spent an hour or so being “artists” on
    Ten Pound Island.
    We walk to Salt Island at low tide. We take a launch to Thacher Island for Artist Photograper Days. Why not occasional outings to Ten Pound Island?
    I grew up looking at the island with its hatchery and pretty keeper’s house. Yes, let’s enjoy our beautiful harbor and the island.
    My grandsons now bring their children to Gloucester for the magic of a beautiful waterfront and they now add their own memories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you to both Gloria and Scott for sharing this information and your comments, so relevant to the conversation. I think I should add the shuttle information to the timeline


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