Our History & Statistics
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, Boston, New York, and beyond.
For a number of years before the lighthouse was built to warn ships of the dangerous reef (named the "Borden Flats") at the mouth of the Taunton River, 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."
However, on June 16, 1880, a grant 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 Flats. 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 Lighthouse was first named Quequechan Light, (Kwee-kwah-chan) 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 its new moniker named after the flats she was built upon.
There are five levels above the basement, including the top level Lantern room and 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 sprang into action to save the mariners.
It is said one of the men was unable to swim due to handicap and was lost in the waves. The other man clung to the overturned boat and was swiftly rescued by Keeper Paul.
Capt. John Paul later received the Carnegie Medal for Bravery for his heroic 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 Light in Narragansett Bay were completely lost. Even more upsetting, our former Keeper, Martin Thompson (served 1898-1905) who had moved on to serve Prudence Island Light after Borden Flats Light, had retired on Prudence was drowned while attempting to assist the current Keeper and his family from the devastating hurricane.
Amazingly, Borden Flats Light and our Keeper Joseph Covo who rode out the storm on board, survived the hurricane, however the wrath of wind and waves left the tower with a pronounced 5 degree tilt to the north, which is still visible today.
In 1963, a new, much wider cylindrical concrete and steel caisson or "apron" was added around the original one to provide more protection and never allow the tower to move again.
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, two Keepers were now assigned to 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 as it became automated and there was no longer a need for a Keeper. Except for a yearly visit by USCG to maintain the lantern, The Lighthouse laid abandoned for 47 years from 1963 to 2010.
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. The foghorn has since been retired from the Light.
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, (ATON) serviced by the Coast Guard's team stationed in 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 auction to the general public.
After the first bidder failed to complete the purchase, it was offered up again and 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. After assuming ownership, the young 33 year old 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, in 2018, he received 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 eventually overnight stays in 2016. He successfully operated his popular Lighthouse Keepers Overnight Educational Program, allowing overnight guests to live the life as an honorary 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 and purchased her in May, 2018 after Nick decided to sell and move on to his next lighthouse venture.
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, after Nick sadly said goodbye to his Borden Flats Light, he moved on to his newest passion, a 7 bedroom lighthouse in Big Bay, Michigan on the cliffs of Lake Superior, that is currently a full service bed & breakfast. It's a must stay when you are visiting Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
So 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 Overnight Light Keepers Program. Guests are transported by launch boat out to the Light and afforded an experience they won't soon forget, living just like our Light Keepers have since 1881. Guest Keepers come from all over the world to live this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
(click on the Reservations tab to book your overnight stay!)
From 1881 to present, the Lighthouse has remained 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!"
We are proud to list our brave, heroic Light Keepers who dedicated part of their lives to keeping the waters of Mount Hope Bay safe for ships and pleasure boaters alike:
Gardner Sherman (1881-1885)
Herman Georgy (1885-1898)
Martin Thompson (1898-1905)
Joseph Meyer (c. 1905-1912)
John H. Paul (1912 -1927) - was
awarded Carnegie Medal for Bravery!
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 station unmanned)
James "Nick" Korstad (2010-2018)
Kevin M. Ferias (2018-Current)
THANK YOU TO OUR BRAVE LIGHT KEEPERS!
Location: MOUNT HOPE BAY
Nearest City: FALL RIVER & SOMERSET, MASSACHUSETTS
U.S.C.G. District: 1
Year Station Established: Nov. 1881
Existing Historic Tower:
Modern Tower? NO, it is original from 1881
Existing Sound Signal Building? NO
Current Use: ACTIVE U.S. COAST GUARD AID TO NAVIGATION and LIGHT KEEPERS OVERNIGHT EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM
KEVIN M. FERIAS
(privately owned and managed)
Open to the Public? YES - Overnight stays available to public from April-November.
National Register Status: LISTED; Reference #87001528
Name of Listing: BORDEN FLATS LIGHT STATION (LIGHTHOUSES OF
On State List/Inventory? YES
PLEASE NOTE: The lighthouse property is a privately owned home, and graciously opened to the public for overnight stays. The actual light is owned & 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.