Bumpkin Island

scenic landscape view of tall shrubs with yellow flowers overlooking a harbor

NPS Photo

Walking trails and the remains of an old stone farmhouse make up the landscape of this picturesque island.

Slate and shell beaches and open fields provide a relaxed atmosphere on Bumpkin Island. Trails lined with wild flowers lead visitors to the remains of a stone farmhouse and a children's hospital.

 

General Information

This island of Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

 

Visitor Facilities & Services

Hours:
9:00 am to Sunset
Piers/Docks:
Yes
Visitor season:
Summer
Boat slips:
0
Visitor staff:
Yes
Moorings:
0
Guided tours:
Yes
Park boats:
Park shuttle boat
Lifeguards:
No
Car access:
No
Flush toilets:
No
Campsites:
10 (capacity ea: 4)
Composting toilets:
Yes
Group campsites:
1 (capacity ea: 25)
Picnic areas:
Yes
Camping capacity:
65
Refreshments:
No
Cooking grills:
Yes
Drinking water:
No
Walking trails:
Yes

Visitor Cautions: The island has abundant poison ivy, which is currently controlled along walkways.

 

Short History

Prior to European settle colonization, Indigenous peoples likely accessed this island. During colonization, the island was leased to tenant farmers. The island hosted a fish-drying operation in the early 1800s and a fish smelting operation in the early 1900s. In 1900, Albert Burrage, a Boston philanthropist, founded a hospital for children with physical disabilities. During World War I, the US Navy took over the island to use it as a US Naval Training camp, which the Navy dismantled after the war. The hospital reopened briefly in about 1940 for polio patients but closed during World War II and burned in 1945.

 

Natural History Overview

Vegetation

Several large trees, approximately 100 years old, possibly date to the early hospital period, including white birch (Betula papyrifera), pear (Pyrus sp.) and apple (Malus sp.) trees. A single yew (Taxus sp.) may have been part of an early 1900s ornamental planting. Most of the island is covered with early successional tree, shrub and vine species representative of a landscape reverted from managed lawns and gardens in the early 1900s.

Wildlife

Survey in progress.

Geology

The island is composed of a central drumlin, elevation 70 feet, surrounded by a rock-strewn shoreline. A sand spit, exposed at low tide, connects the eastern end of the island to Sunset Point in Hull.

Views and Vistas

Three vantage points are managed to enhance views. Two group picnic areas on the southwest side of the island offer excellent views of the Hingham Islands (Sarah, Ragged, Langlee and Worlds End), as well as Slate, Grape, and Sheep Islands. An outlook shelter on the northwest side of the island offers views of Boston, Peddocks, and Hull, with a partial view of Great Brewster Island.

 

Structures

  • Pier gazebo
  • Pumphouse
  • Stone house walls
  • Mess hall foundation
  • Hospital and additional foundations
  • Outlook shelter
  • Clivus Mulstrum toilet

  • None

  • Pier
  • Park benches
  • Picnic tables
  • Signs

Last updated: November 25, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

15 State Street
4th Floor

Boston , MA 02109

Phone:

617 223-8666

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