• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Island Facts: Nixes Mate

Pirate lore surrounds this black and white marker which has guided boat traffic for a century.


 
Short History
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.
 

General Information
This island of Boston Harbor Islands national park area is managed by U.S. Coast Guard, First District.

Agency Designation: Nix's Mate day marker
Current Use: Aid to navigation; park purposes
Harbor Location: Outer Harbor
Acreage: 0.0 upland acres
Highest elevation: 10 feet
Longitude: 42° 19' 47.9" North
Latitude: 70° 56' 43.9" West
Miles from Long Wharf: 6.33
 
Visitor Facilities & Services
Nixes Mate is not open to the public. There is no docking. Boaters must anchor off shore.
Hours:
Not open to the public
Piers/Docks:
No
Visitor season:
0
Boat slips:
0
Visitor staff:
No
Moorings:
0
Guided tours:
No
Park boats:
None
Lifeguards:
No
Car access:
No
Flush toilets:
No
Campsites:
0 (capacity ea: 0)
Composting toilets:
No
Group campsites:
0 (capacity ea: 0)
Picnic areas:
No
Camping capacity:
0
Refreshments:
No
Cooking grills:
0
Drinking water:
No
Walking trails:
No
On-island Circulation: None.
 
Natural History Overview
Vegetation
Subaquatic vegetation.

Wildlife
Survey in progress.

Geology
The beacon stands approximately 20 feet high. At low tide the beacon is surrounded by rocky flats and a sandspit to the south.

Water Features
No constructed water features.

Views and Vistas
The striped black and white beacon is visible from most points in the harbor.
 
Structures
Buildings
  • None
Fortifications
  • None
Other Structures
  • Cement hexagonal pyramid
 
Alternate Names
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:
  • Nixes Island
  • Nix's Mate
  • Nixes Mate
  • Nick's Mate
  • Nicks Mate

Did You Know?

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Georges Island is home to Fort Warren, which was used as a prison during the Civil War. The fort’s most famous prisoner was the Vice President of the Confederacy, Alexander Stephens. Daily tours of this famous fort are offered from May to October. More...