The city of Fall River, situated where the Taunton River flows into Mount Hope Bay, was known as the "Textile Capital of the World" in the nineteenth century. At one time, more than 100 cotton mills in Fall River employed over 30,000 people. The city's location allowed easy travel by water to Providence, Newport, Boston, New York City and beyond.
For a number of years before the lighthouse was built to warn ships of the dangerous reef at the mouth of the Taunton River, (eventually named the Borden Flats,) an unlighted day marker warned captains of the reef. The 1872 annual report of the Lighthouse Board described a "stone beacon, with iron column and day-mark."
On June 16, 1880, a sum of $25,000 was appropriated for a lighthouse to be built on Borden Flats, and construction soon commenced.
A cylindrical cast-iron caisson filled with boulders and concrete was sunk in place on the reef. The components of the superstructure were delivered in July 1881. The brick and cast-iron tower, which doubled as living quarters for its keeper, was erected on the caisson, and the lighthouse went into service on October 1, 1881, with a fourth-order Fresnel lens producing a fixed red light 47 feet above mean high water. It is said the Light was first named Quequechan Light, after the Quequechan River on which the city of Fall River was built.
"Quequechan" is a Native-American word meaning
"Falling Waters." Somewhere along the way, it became known by it's new moniker named after the flats upon she was built.
There are five stories above the basement, including the lantern room- two levels were used as living quarters. Rainwater was collected in gutters and deposited into a cistern in the structure's basement level, providing the keeper's water supply.
John H. Paul became keeper in July 1912 and remained at Borden Flats Light until 1927. On August 3, 1912, two men were passing near the lighthouse in a boat. As the men attempted to change places, the boat overturned. Keeper Paul saw the accident and immediately launched his boat.
One of the men was unable to swim and was lost in the waves. The other man clung to the overturned boat and was swiftly rescued by Capt. Paul. The keeper later received a Carnegie Lifesaving Bronze medal for this brave rescue.
Borden Flats Lighthouse was battered in the Great Hurricane of September 21, 1938, as were many lighthouses on New England's south-facing coast. Sadly, two nearby lighthouses, Whales Rock and Prudence Island Lights in Narragansett Bay were completely lost, along with their Keepers.
The hurricane left our tower with a pronounced 5 degree tilt, which is still visible from the west side. In 1963, a new, much wider cylindrical caisson was subsequently added around the old one to provide more protection and secure the Light to the sea bottom.
Truman Sawyer served at Borden Flats Light for the Coast Guard from November 1955 to December 1956. In a phone interview in 2003, he recalled that after the '38 hurricane, there were two Keepers stationed at the lighthouse. The light still ran on kerosene, as did a refrigerator and stove. The fog bell mechanism was still wound by hand. Although he looked back on the experience fondly, Sawyer said that at the time "it was like a punishment."
Borden Flats Light was finally electrified in 1957 and in 1963, full time Light Keepers left the Light when it became automated.
In 1977, the Fresnel lens was replaced by a modern plastic lens. The fog bell remained in use until 1983 when it was replaced by an electronic foghorn.
Today, the Light sits proudly about a half mile south of the Braga Bridge. The bridge, built in 1965, was named for one of the first men from Fall River to die in World War II.
Borden Flats Light remains an active USCG Aid to Navigation, serviced by the Coast Guard's Aid to Navigation Team Bristol (Rhode Island).
In 2006, after decades of deterioration, it was announced that the lighthouse would be available for transfer to a suitable buyer under the provisions of the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000. No one expressed interest, so the lighthouse was deemed available to be sold at government auction to the general public.
In August 2010, the highest bidder was James Nick Korstad of Portland, Oregon. “I want to restore it back to what is was originally and I want to make it accessible to the public,” Korstad told the Fall River Herald News. The young Korstad moved himself cross country and lived in the lighthouse while pain-painstakingly renovating and rehabbing the entire structure. His effort stands as one of the finest lighthouse rehabilitation successes in all of North America, and as such, Nick was awarded the "Lighthouse Keeper of the Year" honor given annually by the American Lighthouse Society.
He tirelessly devoted 8 years, (nearly single-handedly) to its complete renovation, and as promised, opened her up to the public for tours and overnight stays in 2016. He successfully operated the popular Lighthouse Keepers Overnight Educational Program, allowing guests overnight and live the life of an historic Light Keeper. The program continues with new Lighthouse owner and keeper, Kevin Ferias. Kevin was a guest at the Light in 2017, fell in love with it and purchased her from Nick in 2018. Kevin has beautifully maintained this historic gem and continues to offer her for nightly stays.
Since its start, the Overnight Keepers Program has become wildly popular with travelers from all over the world and books up 7 nights a week over a year in advance...
In May, 2018, Nick sadly said goodbye to his Borden Flats Light as he moved on to his next lighthouse adventure, a 7 bedroom lighthouse in Big Bay, Michigan that is currently a full service bed & breakfast www.bigbaylighthouse.com.
Borden Flats Light now has a new passionate owner and Light Keeper in local resident Kevin Ferias. Kevin has vowed to keep the Light active and available to the public for overnight stays through the immensely popular Keepers Program. Guests are transported by launch boat to the Light and afforded an experience they wont soon forget, living just like Light Keepers have since 1881. Guest Keepers come from all over the world to live this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
(click on the Light Keepers Program tab to book your overnight stay!)
From 1881 to present, the Lighthouse remains an active US Coast Guard Aid to Navigation (ATON) and the beacon is managed by the US Coast Guard on a yearly basis . Borden Flats Light can be best seen from the Borden Light Marina. or even better, by "Staying the Light!"
Location: MOUNT HOPE BAY
FALL RIVER & SOMERSET, MASSACHUSETTS
U.S.C.G. District: 1
Year Station Established: 1881
Existing Historic Tower:
Existing Sound Signal Building? NO
Available for overnight stays!
Current Use: ACTIVE U.S. COAST GUARD AID TO NAVIGATION and LIGHT KEEPERS OVERNIGHT EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM
KEVIN M. FERIAS
(Privately owned and operated)
Open to the Public? YES - Overnight stays available to public from April-November.
National Register Status:
Inducted 1987 - Reference #87001528
Name of Listing: BORDEN FLATS LIGHT STATION (LIGHTHOUSES OF
On State List/Inventory? YES
PLEASE NOTE: The lighthouse itself is a privately owned home, and graciously opened to the public for overnight stays. The actual light fixture maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard Aid to Navigation team stationed in Bristol, RI.
*The majority of the information has been provided by the National Park Service and edited to current specifications.
We are proud to list these brave, heroic Keepers who dedicated their lives to keeping the waters of Mount Hope Bay safe for ships and pleasure boaters alike:
Herman Georgy (Georgie?) (1885-1898)
Martin Thompson (1898-1905)
Joseph Meyer (c. 1905-1912)
John H. Paul (1912 -1927)
Joseph Covo (1927-1943)
John F. McGeough (Coast Guard c. 1950s)
Calvin B. Davis (Coast Guard, c. 1950s)
Truman Sawyer (Coast Guard, 1955-1956)
George Boley (Coast Guard, 1959-1963)
***1963-2010 - Light automated and lighthouse unmanned.
James Nicholas Korstad (2010-2018)
Kevin M. Ferias (2018-Present)
While in Fall River be sure to visit Battleship Cove, home port to the Battleship Massachusetts. The excellent Fall River Marine Museum is also nearby, featuring an extensive Titanic exhibit. Another must visit is the Lizzie Borden House & Museum.
Borden Flats Light is conveniently located just 50 miles south of Boston, 35 miles west of Cape Cod, 17 miles east of Providence, RI and the famous seaside resort of Newport, RI is only 20 miles south!