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Sally Snowman, America’s Last Lighthouse Keeper, Ends Watch at Boston Lighthouse After 20 Years


She finished taking the beacon home.

The last U.S. Coast Guard lighthouse keeper has ended her tenure at the historic Boston Lighthouse after two decades at the helm.

Sally Snowman, 72, became the lighthouse keeper in 2003, which she said was a lifelong dream come true after seeing it for the first time when she was just 10 years old.

“There was a connection, an instant connection. At the age of 10, I had no idea what this connection was, it touched me straight to the heart. And to this day, there it is. He’s still there,” she told the Daily Mail ahead of her last day as a caretaker on Saturday.

She is the 70th person to serve as keeper of the Boston Light Lighthouse – and the first woman to hold the position – in its more than 300-year history.

The lighthouse, dedicated in 1716, destroyed by the British in 1776 and rebuilt in 1783, guided sailors safely through the dangerous waters of Boston Harbor from the small rocky island of Little Brewster.

Snowman’s first impression of Boston Light during a childhood visit to the island would inspire him for the rest of his life.

“In my heart, Boston Light is my home,” Snowman told CBS News earlier this month. “I took to it like a fish to water.”

Sally Snowman, 72, has been the Boston Light’s goalkeeper since 2003. She retired Saturday. CBS NEWS BOSTON

“I walked down to the beach, looked up at the light and said, ‘Dad, when I grow up, I want to get married here’ – and I did in 1994!” she added.

She and her husband even wrote a book about the lighthouse, which helped her land the job as the first civilian keeper of the Boston Light since 1941, after the Coast Guard civilized the lighthouses to free its members after the terrorist attacks of September 11.

For the past 20 years, Snowman has lived on the isolated island for six months – alone during the weeks but with her husband on weekends, she told CBS.

The current Boston Light structure was built in 1783. CBS NEWS BOSTON

His duties at the automated lighthouse included keeping it clean, checking the mechanical equipment, and enjoying the natural beauty around it.

“There’s a view out every window. even in the bathroom, when you’re in the shower, you can see Graves Light,” Snowman said, referring to another lighthouse to the northeast.

The first Boston Light structure was a 60-foot tower built in 1716 and lit by candles, according to the National Parks Service. It suffered numerous fires at the hands of American troops while in British hands during the Revolutionary War – before being destroyed by British troops as they fled Boston in 1776.

Snowman married her husband in Little Brewster in 1994, after promising her father she would do so when she was 10 years old. CBS NEWS BOSTON

The current structure, 75 feet high, was completed in 1783 and was lit by four fish oil lamps. It was raised to 89 feet in 1859 and electrified in 1948, projecting its light 27 miles into the Atlantic Ocean.

Boston Light became a National Historic Landmark in 1964 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.

As the Coast Guard prepared to automate the lighthouse and remove its staff from Little Brewster in 1989, the U.S. Senate passed a law requiring Boston Light to be permanently staffed, making it the only lighthouse with personnel remaining in the country, according to the NPS.

Snowman is Boston Light’s first female goalkeeper in its 300-year history. CBS NEWS BOSTON

The law further required that Little Brewster be accessible to the public, which it became in 1999.

It became the last lighthouse in the country to be automated in 1989 and always stays lit, “rescuing the keeper from having to climb the stairs twice a day,” according to the NPS.

In 2018, when the lighthouse failed a safety inspection, Snowman was limited to daytime maintenance trips only, CBS reported. She now spends much of her time at the Hull Lifesaving Museum, where she dresses in 19th-century costumes and keeps a close eye on her beloved lighthouse.

Ownership of the lighthouse will be transferred through the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act of 2000 to an organization or charity that will maintain the monument.

Snowman said it will be difficult to say goodbye – although she hopes to volunteer as a Little Brewster tour guide and remain its historian.

“…We thought it was going to be short term, it turned into 20 years. And then let go, how to let go of all that? It’s like growing a child up, going to college and letting them start a new chapter, so it’s a new chapter for Boston Light,” she told the Daily Mail.

“I can’t even think about what January 1st will be like. But the other side is that I don’t feel like it’s really over. »

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