They don’t have the allure of lighthouses, but the many unlighted markers known as daybeacons along our coasts have played a vital role in navigation. One of the best known in New England is the granite daybeacon at Bowditch Ledge on the approach to the harbor of Salem, Massachusetts.
Its origins are shrouded in mystery, but it appears that Bowditch Ledge was named for named for sea captain William Bowditch, whose ship, the Essex Galley, ran up on the ledge in 1700. Ironically, William’s great grandson, Nathaniel Bowditch, is famed as the the author of The New American Practical Navigator (1802). The book remains a valuable handbook of navigation, oceanography, and meteorology.
The Bowditch Ledge Daybeacon, built of granite blocks, was in visibly precarious condition in recent years. Repeated battering from this November’s storms was the final straw, and the structure toppled recently.
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