300 years old and this lighthouse is still a keeper

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BOSTON - SEPTEMBER 9: Lighthouse keeper Sally Snowman, employed by the USCG, traditionally waves to tourists as they arrive on Little Brewster Island for a tour, Sept. 9, 2016. The island's lighthouse, Boston Light, turns 300 years old next week and is ready for its celebration.   (Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

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JUDY WOODRUFF:  Now to our “NewsHour” shares, Something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

We visit the nation’s first lighthouse just off Boston, which celebrates its 300th anniversary today.

SALLY SNOWMAN, Boston Light Keeper:  My name is Sally Snowman.  And I’m the Coast Guard lighthouse keeper of Boston Light.

Boston Light is the last manned Coast Guard life station in the entire country.  It is located on Little Brewster Island at the entrance of Boston Harbor.  In 1716, there were many shipwrecks here in the outer harbor of Boston, and they wanted to have a major aid to navigation to show the ships safe passage into the harbor.

And so, in 1716, Boston Light was erected.  And then it had an incident in 1776 in the Revolutionary War where the tower was blown up.  It was rebuilt in 1783, and that is the tower that exists today.

And, today, 300 years later, the lighthouse is doing exactly what it was intended to do in 1716, which was showing a safe way into Boston Harbor.

So, now I am the 70th keeper of Boston Light, with the first 69 having been all men.  When I was hired in 2003, I was a Coast Guard auxiliary person that volunteered out here and wore a uniform.  However, being on the payroll for the Coast Guard as a civilian employee, I wasn’t allowed to wear the uniform, and I was asked to come up with something that would help me stand out from the crowd.

So, I came up with the idea of this costume from the late 1700s to help tell the story, that it’s not the original tower of 1716.  It’s 1783.  And this is what the keeper’s wife would have worn during that period of time.

We are a living museum.  Visitors get to come out, climb the 76 spiral stairs, two ladders into the lantern room, and stand by an 11-foot crystal made up of 336 individual prisms.  Many of them are local, many of them from Boston.

And so many of them say, oh, I have lived in Boston all of my life, I have looked at Boston Light, and never came out.  And why did it take me so long to come out here?  Because it is a jewel.  It’s a jewel of the harbor.

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