Sagamore Beach, MA - Events of Sunday, September 15, 2013
We all learned about the Pilgrims when we were in school, so one of the things we wanted to do while we were staying in Sagamore Beach was to check out Plymouth. Plymouth was only about 15 or 20 minutes from where we were staying, and we headed there on Sunday morning.
When we came to New England this summer, we originally planned to see the sights around Boston, but not to go into the city itself. We don't like big cities, and we usually avoid them. However, because we were running early on our way to Plymouth and since it was Sunday and we figured there wouldn't be as much traffic, we decided on the spur of the moment to keep driving about another 35 or 40 minutes to Boston just so we could say we were there.
We had no definite destination in mind, but Margery decided she would like to see Boston Harbor. Paul plotted a course on the GPS to the waterfront.
We were surprised at how much traffic there was heading into Boston at 10:00 on a Sunday morning. The downtown area was busy, but nothing like it would be during the week.
We got to the waterfront, and of course, there was no place to park. We were only there for a quick look, so we didn't want to pay high rates at a parking garage. We drove around a little and found a permit-only lot that was shared by a marina and a small, waterfront inn. The lot was almost empty, so we drove in. We took turns taking a 5-minute walk out onto the pier while the other stayed with the car just in case.
Old warehouse that has been turned into condos at the Boston waterfront
After we each had our turn walking on the pier, we checked the GPS to see what else might be nearby, and we found we were very close to Paul Revere's house. We headed there hoping to get a photo of the outside. After following a maze of one-way streets, we caught a glimpse of the house. Unfortunately, there was no place to pull over even for a few seconds to snap a photo much less to park. We were quickly reminded of the reason we didn't plan to go to Boston in the first place - narrow streets, traffic and no place to park. We decided it was time to "get out of Dodge," so we gave up on Paul Revere's house and headed for Plymouth.
Our first stop in Plymouth was at the harbor where the Mayflower II is tied up at the State Dock. The Mayflower II is a replica of the Mayflower, which was the ship that the Pilgrims used to sail from England to the New World. Visitors can board the Mayflower II to see what it was like to spend over two months in cramped quarters on the voyage across the Atlantic, but we dedided to pass and just stroll along the waterfront.
A short distance from the Mayflower II at the Plymouth waterfront is Plymouth Rock. Almost everything we read about Plymouth Rock said it is unimpressive, but we were right there in Plymouth, so we couldn't pass by without taking a look.
Plymouth Rock is where tradition says the Pilgrims first set foot on shore in Plymouth, but there is no mention of the Pilgrims stepping off the boat onto a rock in of the writings of any of the Pilgrim leaders from the time of the landing. The first reference to the existance of a rock wasn't made in writing until 121 years later. The rock was pointed out in 1741 by the 94-year old son of one of the original Mayflower passengers. Although we'll probably never know whether or not the Pilgrims actully stepped off the Mayflower onto a rock and whether or not Plymouth Rock is that rock, Plymouth Rock has nevertheless become a symbol for freedom.
Everybody was right - Plymouth Rock isn't very impressive because it's not that big. The reason for that is over the years, pieces have been broken off and given away or sold, and it has been chipped away by souvenir hunters. Today, only about 1/3 the original boulder remains. What is left of Plymouth Rock sits under a fenced-in granite canopy built in 1920 at the Plymouth waterfront.
There are several opportunities in and around Plymouth to learn more history about the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony. One is Plimoth Plantation, which is a living-history recreation of an English Village as it would have appeared back in 1627 Plymouth. Having recently been at the living-history museum at Sturbridge Village, we decided not to visit Plimoth Plantation even though it and Sturbridge represent distinctly different time periods. We decided to go to Pilgrim Hall Museum instead.
Pilgrim Hall Museum opened in 1824 and is the oldest, continuously-operating museum in the United States. The top half of Plymouth Rock sat in front of the museum from the 1830s until it was returned to the Plymouth waterfront in the 1880s and reunited with the bottom half. The museum still has a small piece of Plymouth Rock inside. They also have artifacts, manuscripts, paintings and a library relating to the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony. Some of the artifacts in the museum came over on the Mayflower. These include the Bible that belonged to William Bradford, governor of the colony. Admission to the museum is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors over 62 and $6 for AAA members.
Unfortunately, photography isn't permitted inside the museum, but their website has some fairly good photos if you're interested. They had a good video with a history of the Pilgrims and Plymouth Plantation.
Pilgrim is the name given to the early settlers of Plymouth Colony, but that name wasn't used until about 1798. They were called Brownists back in the day after their early leader, Robert Browne. The group
wanted to separate themselves from the Church of England in the late 1500s and early 1600s. In those days,
the church was part of the state, and any dissension was considered
treason. Many of the Pilgrims had left the volatile atmosphere in
England for the Netherlands, which was more tolerant. However, they still
considered themselves to be English, and they were afraid they were
losing their English identity as time went on.
By the early 1600s, colonization of America by various European countries was taking place, and the Pilgrims decided establishing their own colony in the New World would be a good way to preserve both their religious freedom and their English heritage. They convinced a group of English investors to help finance their new colony in America.
There were originally two ships that were to transport 121 passengers to the New World - the Speedwell and the Mayflower. Unfortunately, the smaller of the two ships, the Speedwell, began to take on water and was deemed unseaworthy.
Supplies were consolidated and 102 of the original 121 passengers were chosen to cross the Atlantic on the Mayflower. After a difficult voyage of over 60 days, land was finally sighted. They were heading for the mouth of the Hudson River, but they were off course and had arrived at Cape Cod. When they attempted to sail around the cape toward the Hudson River, they encountered difficulty because of the treacherous shoals. Therefore, they decided to drop anchor at the end of Cape Cod near present-day Provincetown.
After several exploratory expeditions in a smaller boat, it was decided to sail to the mainland at Plymouth. Because they got such a late start due to the leaking of the Speedwell, it was already December and they needed to find safe harbor before the weather turned bad.
Although the first winter was hard (45 of the 102 immigrants died), Plymouth Colony eventually prospered. More ships arrived in subsequent years bringing more settlers. By 1630, there were an estimated 300 people in Plymouth Colony; and by 1657, there could have been as many as 2,000. The colony occupied most of the southeastern portion of what was to become Massachusetts.
After we toured the museum, we walked past some of the statues and historical markers in Plymouth.
The Wampanoag Indians inhabited the area around Plymouth and much of present-day Massachusetts. The Pilgrims established a good relationship with the Wampanoag that lasted several decades. Their chief, Massasoit, signed a treaty with the Pilgrims guaranteeing them security in exchange for their alliance against the Narragansett People, who were the neighboring tribe in Rhode Island.
Plymouth Colony lasted until 1691 when it was merged with Massachusetts Bay Colony.
After our visit to the museum and our walk around Plymouth, we headed back to the motor home. We relaxed around the campground on Monday. On Tuesday, we headed to a laundromat in Sandwich. We really prefer to use our onboard washer/dryer, but we couldn't because we didn't have sewer hookup at this stop. We didn't have sewer at our last stop, and we won't have sewer at our next stop either. This laundromat wasn't quite as new or as clean as the last one we went to in Narragasett, and it was almost twice as expensive.
On our way back from doing laundry, we stopped at Marshland Restaurant in Sandwich for lupper. The last time we were there, we had fried clam strips, but we were both tempted by an item on the menu called a Steak Bomb. It's essentially a Philly cheese steak, but we liked the name. The Steak Bomb comes with fries for $9, and we substituted sweet potato fries and onion rings for an additional $1.50 for each. The sandwiches had excellent flavor, but we thought the steak could have been a little more tender.
After we ate, we headed back to the motor home to put away our laundry then spent the evening watching TV. On Wednesday morning, we headed out to our next destination.