American Locations 5 – Boston: The Freedom Trail and Minuteman National Historic Park

This trip goes from Cincinnati, Ohio, to the Boston area, then up the New England coast all the way into Canada, then back through the Adirondacks to the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York.

This trip blog is different from the others since it is composed from several different visits. In Massachusetts we had family to stay with instead of camping. So I’ll interrupt relating this camping trip and describe other visits we made in our car. My wife’s daughter lives in Stow, which is just inside the I-495 circle freeway. My wife’s son lives closer in, in Beverly, which is on the coast next to Salem, 20 miles or so north from downtown Boston.

We haven’t spent a lot of time in Boston. We prefer the open countryside to the tight confines of a large city. And it can be difficult driving our motorhome through congested cities. But we did take one memorable trip into Boston. We did it with my wife’s son, who was living in Worcester at the time but has since moved to Beverly. He drove us to the nearest commuter rail station to Worcester, which we took to downtown Boston. We got off at the Park Street Station at the edge of Boston Common.

We spent an entire day hiking the Freedom Trail. Here is some info on it from their web site:

The famous Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick trail through Boston’s historic neighborhoods that tells the story of the American Revolution.  From the Old North Church to Faneuil Hall, and through resonant burying grounds, visit the temples and landmarks of the Revolutionary Era.

Here is a list of sites along the trail: 

Boston Common, Massachusetts State House, Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, King’s Chapel, King’s Chapel Burying Ground, Benjamin Franklin Statue & Boston Latin School, Old Corner Bookstore, Old South Meeting House, Old State House, Site of Boston Massacre, Faneuil Hall, Paul Revere House, Old North Church, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Bunker Hill Monument, USS Constitution

It was a pleasant autumn day, and we took our time. The trail descended down hills to the waterfront, so most of the time we were going downhill and it wasn’t too difficult. Much of the trail passed through an Italian neighborhood, which was filled with wonderful aromas.

We emerged from the T underground station at Boston Commons. We wandered through the cemetery there.

There were statues along the way. Samuel Adams.

Paul Revere.

And several churches, including Old North Church.

Paul Revere’s home has been preserved.

We walked past Kings Chapel

And other iconic buildings.

We went into the places we were allowed in.

We stopped at an outside market near Faneuil Hall for lunch. I had a lobster roll, of course. We hiked up to the Bunker Hill Memorial. For some reason I didn’t take a picture of it, so here is an image off the Internet.

The Freedom Trail ends at the U.S.S. Constitution.

We boarded and looked around.

Here is a Wikipedia entry about the ship:

The USS Constitution, also known as Old Ironsides, is a three-masted wooden-hulled heavy frigate of the United States Navy. She is the world’s oldest ship of any type still afloat.[Note 1] She was launched in 1797, one of six original frigates authorized for construction by the Naval Act of 1794 and the third constructed. The name “Constitution” was among ten names submitted to President George Washington by Secretary of War Timothy Pickering in March of 1795 for the frigates that were to be constructed.[10][11] Joshua Humphreys designed the frigates to be the young Navy’s capital ships, and so Constitution and her sister ships were larger and more heavily armed and built than standard frigates of the period. She was built at Edmund Hartt‘s shipyard in the North End of Boston, Massachusetts. Her first duties were to provide protection for American merchant shipping during the Quasi-War with France and to defeat the Barbary pirates in the First Barbary War.

Constitution is most noted for her actions during the War of 1812 against the United Kingdom, when she captured numerous merchant ships and defeated five British warships: HMS GuerriereJavaPictouCyane, and Levant. The battle with Guerriere earned her the nickname “Old Ironsides” and public adoration that has repeatedly saved her from scrapping. She continued to serve as flagship in the Mediterranean and African squadrons, and she circled the world in the 1840s. During the American Civil War, she served as a training ship for the United States Naval Academy. She carried American artwork and industrial displays to the Paris Exposition of 1878.

Constitution was retired from active service in 1881 and served as a receiving ship until being designated a museum ship in 1907. In 1934, she completed a three-year, 90-port tour of the nation. She sailed under her own power for her 200th birthday in 1997, and again in August 2012 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her victory over Guerriere.

Constitutions stated mission today is to promote understanding of the Navy’s role in war and peace through educational outreach, historical demonstration, and active participation in public events as part of the Naval History & Heritage Command. As she is a fully commissioned Navy ship, her crew of 75 officers and sailors participate in ceremonies, educational programs, and special events while keeping her open to visitors year round and providing free tours. The officers and crew are all active-duty Navy personnel, and the assignment is considered to be special duty. She is usually berthed at Pier 1 of the former Charlestown Navy Yard at one end of Boston’s Freedom Trail.

By this time we’d had enough walking. Next to the Constitution we caught a water taxi which took us across Boston Harbor to the downtown waterfront.

From there it was a short hike through downtown Boston to the nearest T station, back out to where Chris had parked his car, then a short drive back to Worcester.

We also drove around to see Lexington and Concord, the first battlegrounds of the American Revolution. I was surprised there wasn’t much to see at Lexington. The village green where the skirmish took place was still there, but if there was a memorial it was so small I didn’t see it.

Concord is a different matter. There is a national park extending the 22 miles from downtown Boston, the route the British soldiers marched, to Concord, where the battle took place at North Bridge. I have walked sections of this, even canoed on the river below North Bridge, but, like at Bunker took no pictures. Here is a brief bit from the Minuteman National Historic Park website:

WELCOME TO MINUTE MAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

Minute Man is located 22 miles outside of Boston within the towns of Lexington, Lincoln and Concord, Massachusetts. The park commemorates the opening battles of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775 by protecting, preserving and interpreting the significant historic sites, structures, landscapes, events and ideas embodied by these events.

And here are some images. North Bridge

And a section of the 22 mile trail.

It was along roads like this Americans fired on the British soldiers marching from Concord back to Boston. They killed or wounded 250 British, while suffering only 90 killed or wounded themselves. By the time the British arrived at back at Boston they were no longer marching – they were running for their lives. Because of this rout, British soldiers never again ventured outside of Boston, where they were under the protection of the canon on their warships anchored in the harbor.

Next Location – Salem

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