Island Facts: Nixes Mate
Pirate lore surrounds this black and white marker which has guided boat traffic for a century.
Material was quarried from the island to be used as ballast for ships during the 1600s and slate was quarried in the 1700s. In 1636, it was granted to John Gallop, a harbor pilot who resided on Gallops Island and grazed his sheep on the then 12-acre "Nixes Island." Corpse of an executed criminal, pirate William Fly, was chained and two other pirates buried on the island, then (1726) called "Nick’s Mate." Pyramid beacon perched on granite base which was erected by Boston Marine Society, 1805. Date of current wooden pyramid is unknown. (Further research is currently being conducted.)
Nixes Mate daymarker is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. To search for other listings on the National Register, please visit the National Register's inventory database.
Agency Designation: Nix's Mate day marker
Visitor Facilities & Services
Nixes Mate is not open to the public. There is no docking. Boaters must anchor off shore.
On-island Circulation: None.
Natural History Overview
Survey in progress.
The beacon stands approximately 20 feet high. At low tide the beacon is surrounded by rocky flats and a sandspit to the south.
No constructed water features.
Views and Vistas
The striped black and white beacon is visible from most points in the harbor.
Island names have changed, depending on ownership and the customs of the times. What's in a Name? lists alternate names for park islands (and a few Harbor islands not within the park). Following are known names for Nixes Mate:
Did You Know?
On September 1, 1905, Elliot Hadley lit the most powerful light in Massachusetts at the top of Graves Lighthouse, now in Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. The first-order Fresnel lens aided in navigation and allowed for safe passage into Boston Harbor. More...