• Thacher Island Thacher Island
    Thacher Island Association
    50 acres

    Additional Information
    Thacher Island National Wildlife Refuge

    Accessible by Private Boat or Watertaxi only. For details on private watertaxi visit:

    Directions to Parking Area



    Thacher Island Trail Guide

    Vintage postcard of Thacher Island


    Thacher Island (originally ‘Thacher’s Woe’) is named for Anthony Thacher who, along with his wife, were the sole survivors of a shipwreck on August 14th, 1635 which claimed the lives of 21 people including Thacher’s children.

    The original Twin Lights of Thacher were built in 1771 to warn mariners of the navigational hazard. The 124 foot lighthouses which currently stand on the island were built in 1861.
    The northern 22 acres of the island is managed by the Federal government as a National Wildlife Refuge. The Thacher Island NWR was established in 1972 to provide feeding, resting and nesting habitat for migratory birds. Historically the island was nesting grounds for Common, Arctic and Roseate Terns. Open landfills during the middle of the 20th century created an overpopulation of Herring and Black-backed gulls who outcompeted the Terns and took over the island. The U.S Fish and Wildlife service has proposed a Tern restoration project but the current status of the project is unclear.

    Excerpt from a letter written by Anthony Thacher:
    “Now came to my remembrance the time and manner how and when I last saw and left my children and friends. One was severed from me sitting on the rock at my feet, the other three in the pinnace; my little babe (ah, poor Peter!) sitting in his sister Edith’s arms, who to the uttermost of her power sheltered him from the waters; my poor William standing close unto them, all three of them looking ruefully on me on the rock, their very countenances calling unto me to help them; whom I could not go unto, neither could they come at me, neither would the merciless waves afford me space or time to use any means at all, either to help them or myself. Oh, I yet see their cheeks, poor silent lambs, pleading pity and help at my hands. Then, on the other side, to consider the loss of my dear friends, with the spoiling and loss of all our goods and provisions, myself cast upon an unknown land, in a wilderness, I knew not where nor how to get thence. Then it came to my mind how I had occasioned the death of my children, who caused them to leave their native land, who might have left them there, yea, and might have sent some of them back again, and cost me nothing. These and such like thoughts do press down my heavy heart very much.”