Government Island Historic District

94 Border St, Cohasset, MA 02025, USA

Cohasset Harbormaster: 781-383-0863

Owned By: Town of Cohasset

This varied site includes the headquarters of the Cohasset Harbormaster, Fisherman’s Park, a small commercial fishing wharf, the Cohasset Lighthouse Keeper’s Residence, and the Cohasset Sailing Club. Stop here to learn about Minot’s Ledge Light, which was constructed here before being installed on a ledge off the Cohasset coast.  Look across the water to Bassing Beach.



Prior to European contact, a band of the Massachusett Native American tribe maintained a village in what is now Cohasset. It was known as Quonahassit — often translated as “long rocky place.” In 1614, while exploring what was known then as the New World, Captain John Smith (1580-1631) landed in “Quonahassit Harbor” to trade for furs. A tablet erected at Lawrence Wharf commemorates the event.

The Quonahassit village was probably in the vicinity of today’s Elm Street, a summer camp for fishing, and for growing corn, beans and squash. The village moved inland during the winter for shelter, and to hunt for deer, turkey and other wildlife. A widespread plague decimated the Quonahassit population shortly after Smith’s visit.

Government Island was a hub for fishing and shipbuilding industries during colonial times, as well as farming. In 1858, the federal government acquired 7.3 acres of land here to use as a staging site for the construction of the second iteration of Minot’s Ledge Light. The residence for the keeper of the lighthouse and his family was located here, with the lighthouse situated on a ledge out at sea. A small park along with a replica of the lighthouse are present on site. It, along with several other structures on the island, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

The Cohasset Town Pier was established here in the early 20th century. Across the water, you can see Bassing Beach with its landmark white cottage.

Follow the Gulf Association for more information about the Gulf River.

Trail Description

No trails, but follow the sidewalk along the shoreline to enjoy the view. Along the way, you can visit the Border Street Bridge, Lawrence Wharf, and the Cohasset Veterans Memorial. The Cohasset Historical Commission has placed markers at 10 different historic sites along the way. This is known as The Captains’ Walk.

Habitats and Wildlife

This property offers spectacular views of the Gulf River, which originates in Scituate. A short distance downstream, it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Cohasset Harbor.

94 Border St, Cohasset, MA 02025, USA

Historic Site: Yes

Park: Yes

Beach: No

Boat Launch: Yes

Lifeguards: No

Size: 7.3 acres

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Permitted parking only. As an alternative, consider roadside parking farther down Border Street, by Lawrence Wharf.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy


Benches, bicycle rack, picnic tables, flagpole, memorials.

Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!

Boat Ramp: Yes

ADA Access: Yes

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: Gulf River