• 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: Rainsford Island

Foundations remain from varied past uses; a variety of wildflowers abound.


 
Short History
The island was used by Native Americans. During the colonial period, the island was occupied, farmed and grazed. Institutional use of the island began in 1737 and extended with interruptions for nearly two hundred years until 1925. During this time the island served as a quarantine hospital, almshouse, veterans hospital, and boys reform school. During the nineteenth century, a resort house was also located on the island. Only foundations remain today. The island has never supported military facilities.
 

General Information
This island of Boston Harbor Islands national park area is managed by the City of Boston.

Agency Designation: None
Current Use: Park purposes
Harbor Location: Quincy Bay
Acreage: 21.60 upland acres
Highest elevation: 49 feet
Longitude: 42° 18' 43.1" North
Latitude:
70° 57' 15.3" West
Miles from Long Wharf: 6.33
 
Visitor Facilities & Services
Hours:
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:
No
Drinking water:
Yes
Walking trails:
No

On-island Circulation: There are several unimproved trails on the island.

 
Natural History Overview
Vegetation
Meadow grasses, hardwoods, sumac groves.

Wildlife
Survey in progress.

Geology
The island is composed of two drumlins, reaching an elevation of 49 feet. The island bluffs are eroding on the north side but are partially protected by a dilapidated seawall on the northern and eastern sides. The shoreline is predominantly rocky with a sandy cove in the south side.

Water Features
Further study required.

Views and Vistas
Blue Hills, Hull, Gallops, Georges, Hangman, Long, Moon, and Peddocks Islands, and Quincy.
 
Structures
Buildings
  • Remains of foundations
Fortifications
  • None
Other Structures
  • Pier remains - east and west shores
  • Granite seawall along northern and eastern shore - crumbling in sections
  • Stonewall remnants

Did You Know?

Graves Light

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...