Minute Man National Historic Park-MA

Yesterday, Craig and I took a trip to Minute Man NHP. It was only about 45 minutes away from us. It is a great day trip from Boston if you are visiting, or stop there if you are on a road trip in the North East. It is close to the Saugus Iron Works NHS and Salem Maritime NHS. This is where the American Revolution started. Where “the shot heard round the world” was fired. It is hallowed ground.

The park starts in Lexington and goes to Concord. You can drive and park at the different sites or walk or bike. There are several Visitor’s Centers-two have National Park passport stamps in them. Along the Battle Road Trail you will see Hartwell Tavern, the Paul Revere capture site, the Bloody Angle and more. There are ranger walks, battle reenactments and musket firings during the day. You can pick up info at the Visitor’s Centers. 

A few other places you should visit while in the area if you love literature are the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne and the Alcotts are buried, Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House and Walden Pond State Reservation. We had a great day walking through history and will be back!

Woods

Walden Pond

Stamp

Salem Maritime NHS

The Salem Maritime NHS was the first National Historic Site in the United States (1938.) Salem is well known for the Witch Trials, but it was one of the most important seaports in American history. Salem was settled by Europeans in 1626 at the mouth of the Naumkeag river. It was the site of an ancient Native American village. By 1790, Salem had become the sixth largest city in the country, and was a world-famous seaport. There used to be 50 ports in Salem at one time. Now there are 3 remaining. Ships came back from sailing the world with sugar, rum, silks, oranges and even exotic animals. The animals were kept in the basement of the Custom House while awaiting sale to zoos, circuses and collectors.

The Visitors Center is a great place to start your visit. There are bathrooms, a film, a gift shop and lots of local info and brochures. You can also get your National Park passports stamped here! 

“The site includes the Custom House, Public Stores, Scale House, Hawkes House, Derby House, West India Goods Store, Pedricks Store House, a lighthouse and three historic wharves. The park also maintains and operates a replica tallship, the Friendship of Salem.” (NPS) There are different tours during the day, so you may want to check in before you go to see what is being offered. If you can tour the Friendship do it! You can go above and below deck and see the captain’s quarters.

If you are interested in Maritime history- Boston, the North Shore and the Cape Ann areas of Massachusetts are wonderful places to come visit! Here is a great list of maritime museums you may want to add to your trip. We have been to Boston National Historic Park, The Essex Shipbuilding Museum, Gloucester, Marblehead, Lowell’s Boat Shop, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Peabody Essex Museum many times. They all are worth seeing.  The fall is an amazing time in Salem and Labor Day weekend/September Gloucester has their beautiful Schooner Fest. 

Saugus Iron Works NHS

One National Historic Site near Boston is the Saugus Iron Works NHS. It is the “birthplace of the iron and steel industry in Colonial America.” It produced iron products from 1646 to approximately 1670! Craig and I went for an iron pouring demonstration. We got to carve a design in a sand block and they poured melted iron into the molds and let it cool. Then you got a unique piece of art to take home.  

Patricia's mold

Patricia’s mold

There was plenty of room to have a nice walk and visit the different buildings. A movie shows the history of the site. We also saw a blacksmith make a few items. It is a great day trip if you live nearby or are visiting the area. I will share a video of the iron pouring on our Facebook page

 

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

Have you seen the great PBS show The National Parks: America’s Best Idea? It was a 6 episode series produced by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan that came out several years ago. You can rent the DVDs from your library or watch it on Netflix. Craig and I spent some time watching the episodes and it made us want to see our National Parks even more!

I  especially loved the story of Margaret and Edward Gehrke from Lincoln, Nebraska. For 30 years the Gehrkes traveled to every National Park that existed at the time by train and car. They started in 1915 at the Grand Canyon.  Margaret wrote about the trips in her journals and Edward took many photographs. Margaret put the pictures in scrapbooks, and they were given to the Nebraska State Historical Society. I have some of their photographs on my National Park Pinterest page.

Here is one from Rocky Mountain National Park-their favorite. (From PBS.)