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Peddocks Island is one of the largest of the Boston Harbor Islands, dating back to prehistoric times. A slender 1.5 miles long, it has tall bluffs at each end and in between a rocky shoreline suitable for swimming. First inhabited by Native Americans, the island has been used over the years by farmers, soldiers, and people seeking a rustic beach getaway. It has also been home to an Italian P.O.W. camp during World War II and a Portuguese fishing village circa the 1880s, vestiges of which remain today.
The first thing you see on Peddocks Island is the picturesque white chapel sitting at the shoreline. It was recently renovated to its original beauty with the help of apprentice carpenters. During World War II, there were 1,500 identical white clapboard buildings like this one located on military bases. The chapel served as the non-denominational religious center when Fort Andrews was still active, holding Protestant, Catholic and Jewish services for soldiers, prisoners of war, and island cottage dwellers.
Next, you'll come to the Welcome Center. Built in 1910, it was once used as a guard house and contained a cellblock for wayward soldiers. Restored in 2011, the center now offers educational information and exhibits about life on the island.
Beyond the Welcome Center, you'll find the imposing remains of Fort Andrews. This coastal artillery post was completed in 1904, consisting of over 30 buildings including barracks that housed 100 men, upscale officers' quarters, and a 50-bed hospital. Today, only about a dozen or so of the original buildings remain, many in a dilapidated condition. However, great photo opportunities await!
Want to experience the pleasures of camping in the great outdoors without all the hassle? This is your spot. Take the trail behind Fort Andrews, and you'll soon come upon an oasis of six yurts. These round, tented, wood-floored structures feature electric overhead lights, power outlets, bunk beds, a cot, benches and a table, plus a picnic table, a grill, running water and flush toilets nearby. Consider it "camping light." The season runs June through Labor Day, and reservations must be made online in advance.
Finally, beyond the yurts is a cluster of "sea shacks," the remains of a Portuguese fishing village established in the 1880s. Some are well-kept and occupied, while others are abandoned and falling over. To this day, there is no electricity or running water here. Residents own the cottages themselves but not the land beneath them, and once the owners die the sea shacks automatically revert to state ownership. During your visit, please keep in mind these are private homes and respect the owners' privacy.
Peddocks Island is accessible by a seasonal ferry as well as private boats and boat tours. Also keep in mind that the yurts are a hot commodity, so be sure to make reservations online well in advance of your visit.
Cover photo by Devin via Flickr