Boston Freedom Trail: Old State House To Bunker Hill

The Freedom Trail, recognized as a National Millennium Trail and part of Boston National Historical Park, visits 16 sites and structures of historic importance in downtown Boston and Charlestown.

The Old State House dates back to 1713 and was the center of political activity in Colonial Boston. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Old State House dates back to 1713 and was the center of political activity in Colonial Boston. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In earlier posts on Vogel Talks RVing, we introduced the Boston Freedom Trail and toured eight sites on the trail from Boston Common to Old South Meeting House.

In today’s post we take you on a walking tour of the Freedom Trail from the Old State House to “Old Ironsides” and Bunker Hill.

A ring of cobblestones in front of the Old State House, at the Devonshire and State Street intersection, commemorates the spot of the Boston Massacre, where on March 5, 1770, a minor disagreement between a wigmaker’s apprentice and a British sentry turned into a riot. Although only five colonists were killed, Samuel Adams and other patriots dubbed it a “massacre”.

The Old State House, on the corner of State and Washington streets, dates back to 1713 and was the center of political  activity in Colonial Boston; it was here that the Declaration of Independence was first read to Bostonians from the building’s balcony, which was also the first public reading in Massachusetts. The Old State House, the city’s oldest public building, was the headquarters for the British government in Boston. Today it serves as a Boston history museum.

A marketplace and meeting hall since 1742, Faneuil Hall (rhymes with “manual”) was once a spot where speeches by the likes of Samuel Adams were given, and is now in an area to relax and get a Sam Adams, the city’s most famous brew.

Paul Faneuil, a Boston merchant, built the structure and later donated to the city. Its meeting hall is dubbed the “Cradle of Liberty” because of the protests against British taxation voiced here during the 1760s.

The Paul Revere House, built around 1680, is the oldest private building in downtown Boston and a tribute to the city’s most recognized hero. It is from here that Paul Revere left for his “midnight ride”. The house is also the only Colonial residence of its type to be situated in the middle of a major American city.

The Paul Revere House, built around 1680, is the oldest private building in downtown Boston and a tribute to the city's most recognized hero. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Paul Revere House, built around 1680, is the oldest private building in downtown Boston and a tribute to the city’s most recognized hero. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The next stop is one of the most popular sites on the Freedom Trail. The Old North Church on Salem Street is Boston’s oldest church building. The Episcopal church was built in 1723, and is where Robert Newman signaled the approach of the British with two lanterns in its steeple: “One if by land, and two if by sea”—which sent Paul Revere on his famous ride to Lexington and Concord to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming.

The 191-foot steeple of the Old North Church is the tallest in the city. The church also has the first set of bells ever brought to America, and Paul Revere was a neighborhood bellringer.

The last Freedom Trail stop on the Boston side is Copp’s Hill Burying Ground—the city’s second graveyard. First founded in 1659 as Winmill Hill, it got its current appellation because shoemaker William Copp once owned the land. Because of its strategic height overlooking the Charles River, Copp’s Hill was used by the British during the Battle of Bunker Hill to bombard Charlestown, which brings us to our final two stops.

The Paul Revere statue in Boston is the most recognized and most photographed statue in the city. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Paul Revere statue in Boston is the most recognized and most photographed statue in the city. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Across the Charles River, the Charlestown Navy Yards is one of the first shipyards built in the US and home to the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world.

Launched on October 21, 1797, the ship was later nicknamed “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812 because British cannonballs appeared to bounce its thick hull, causing one of her crew to remark that her sides were made of iron. In fact, the hull of Constitution is constructed of a three-layer wooden sandwich comprised of live oak and white oak.

Guided tours of the US Navy active-duty-manned Constitution are available or you can roam the ship at your own accord.

Only yards away from USS Constitution, the Museum is a “must see” for everyone visiting Boston. Interactive, hands-on exhibits for all ages brings history to life as one learns what life was like at sea over 200 years ago.

Learn how “Old Ironsides” earned her nickname and how she has remained undefeated since her launch in 1797. Swing in a hammock, join a mess, and furl a sail at the USS Constitution Museum, where you don’t just learn about history, you experience it.

Charlestown Navy Yards is one of the first shipyards built in the US and home to the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Charlestown Navy Yards is one of the first shipyards built in the US and home to the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Battle of Bunker Hill marks the first time Colonial forces held their own against the British army. Today a 221-foot granite obelisk denotes the site of the first major battle of the American Revolution. If you can reach the top you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Boston.

Located across the street, the Bunker Hill Museum’s exhibits and dioramas tell the stories of the battle and the monument.

Worth Pondering…

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands in time of challenge.

—Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Boston Freedom Trail: Boston Common To Old South Meeting House

Boston is a city steeped in American history, and the cries of “Freedom!” from Revolutionary War apparitions still echo throughout its sometimes modern, sometimes Colonial city streets.

The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street was built in 1798 on a cow pasture owned by Massachusetts' first elected governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street was built in 1798 on a cow pasture owned by Massachusetts’ first elected governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston’s two and a half mile Freedom Trail is not just a self-guided lesson in history, but a chance to encounter some of America’s most famous ghosts in what is arguably the country’s most historic city. From Bunker Hill and the USS Constitution to the Old North Church and Paul Revere’s House, the Freedom Trail is a spectral dream.

In an earlier post on Vogel Talks RVing, we introduced the Boston Freedom Trail. In today’s post we take you on a walking tour of the Freedom Trail from Boston Common to Old South Meeting House.

Like most visitors we began the trail in Boston Common.

America’s oldest public park, 50-acre Boston Common has been used throughout history as a common grazing ground for sheep and cattle, for public hangings (until 1817), and was the staging ground for British troops before Lexington and Concord in April of 1775.

Today, the Common is a place for relaxation. You can also relax in the Boston Public Garden across Charles Street which is graced by a statue of George Washington.

The 217 foot steeple of Park Street Church was once the first landmark travelers saw when approaching Boston; a building that Author Henry James called “the most interesting mass of bricks and mortar in America.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The 217 foot steeple of Park Street Church was once the first landmark travelers saw when approaching Boston; a building that Author Henry James called “the most interesting mass of bricks and mortar in America.” © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Massachusetts State House on Beacon Street was built in 1798 on a cow pasture owned by Massachusetts’ first elected governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence, John Hancock. It sits across from Boston Common on the top of Beacon Hill. The imposing dome of the state house, originally constructed of wood, and later overlaid with copper by Paul Revere. It was covered with 23-karat gold leaf for the first time in 1874.

Today it is the seat of the Massachusetts state government. It is also the oldest building on Beacon Hill.

The third-oldest burying ground in Boston, the Granary Burying Ground is the final resting place of three signers of the Declaration of Independence: John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and Samuel Adams.

Founded in 1660, it was in 1737, when grain was stored where the present Park Street Church stands, and the burying ground was renamed the Granary. The 217-foot steeple of this church was once the first landmark travelers saw when approaching Boston. The church is the site of the first Sunday School in 1818.

In 1829, William Lloyd Garrison gave his powerful anti-slavery speech here and in 1831 My Country ‘Tis of Thee was sung for the first time by the church’s children choir.

The King’s Chapel Burying Ground is the oldest in Boston proper, and is the final resting place of John Winthrop and Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower. The Anglican chapel was built at the behest of King James II to ensure the presence of the Church of England in America.

The church was completed in 1754 and is one of the 500 most important buildings in America. Its sanctuary is considered by many to be the best example of Georgian church architecture in North America. In 1785, it became the first Unitarian church in the country, where services are held to this day.

The Old State House has stood as an emblem of liberty in Boston for over 300 years. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The Old State House has stood as an emblem of liberty in Boston for over 300 years. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The first public school in America was established in 1635 in the home of Philemon Pormont but was later moved to its current location on School Street. Its illustrious list of alumni includes Samuel Adams, John Hancok, and Ben Franklin, whose statue overlooks the site. It later became Boston Latin School, still in operation in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston. Today, a mosaic marks the spot where the school once stood.

One of Boston’s oldest surviving structures, built in 1712, now houses the Boston Globe Store, founded by The Boston Globe newspaper. It was here, when it was the Old Corner Bookstore, that some of America’s most famous books were published, including The Scarlet Letter and Walden.

In the 19th century, this building was the center of literary Boston, attracting such luminaries as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Charles Dickens, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Henry David Thoreau.

Originally built in 1729 as a Puritan house of worship, the Old South Meeting House was once the largest building in Boston, but its best known as the site where the Boston Tea Party began, which, in turn, began the American Revolution.

USS Constitution and the Boston Skyline. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
USS Constitution and the Boston Skyline. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

In 1773 more than 5,000 colonists gathered here to protest the tax on tea. After hours of debate, Samuel Adams declared that “This meeting can do nothing more to save the country!” The protesters emptied out of the Old South Meeting House and proceeded to Boston harbor, where they emptied out three shiploads of tea, and changed the course of American history forever.

Worth Pondering…

They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
—Benjamin Franklin

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Boston Freedom Trail

Boston, a large, metropolitan city packed with revolutionary history, cultural venues, and sophisticated shopping and dining opportunities. A jaunt around “town” is like opening an American history textbook.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Boston has some of the worst driving and parking on the East Coast; its winding, angled roads meandering like the old cow paths they originally followed. But, don’t let this deter you; you will be rewarded many times over.

Boston had been a thriving city long before the United States itself existed. Founded in the 17th century, Boston has been the center of attention in New England since the colonial period. Today, Boston continues to boast some of the best attractions to be found in the Northeastern US. As the “Cradle of the Revolution”, Boston is full of history like no other city in America. For over 350 years, some of the world’s greatest patriots, writers, thinkers, athletes, and artists have called Boston their home, leaving an indelible mark on this incredible city in the process.

A trip to Boston is necessarily a trip into American history. Boston was the center of the revolutionary movement in the 1770s, and the monuments to those glorious times still stand.

Faneuil Hall (1742) was a meeting place for revolutionary leaders, and it now houses dozens of shops and restaurants. Built by wealthy merchant Peter Faneuil in 1741, this imposing structure is the place where the Sons of Liberty proclaimed their dissent against Royal oppression.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The Old State House (1713) was the site of the colonial government and is open for tours.

The oldest remaining structure in downtown Boston, the Paul Revere House (1680) today serves as a museum.

The oldest church in the city of Boston, the Old North Church (1723), and its famous signal lanterns are still in use.

The site of the Boston Massacre where five colonists died in 1770 has been preserved.

The First Public School was in Boston; some of its graduates include Sam Adams and Benjamin Franklin.

Built as a Puritan house of worship, the Old South Meeting House (1729) was the largest building in colonial Boston. No tax on tea! This was the decision on December 16, 1773, when 5,000 angry colonists gathered here to protest a tax…and started a revolution with the Boston Tea Party.

Adjacent to King’s Chapel (1688), the first non-Puritan church in the colonies, the Granary Burying Ground has the graves of patriots John Hancock, Paul Revere, and Mary Chilton, the first woman to step off the Mayflower.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Even the Boston Tea Party is commemorated in a floating ship museum, not far from the floating museum aboard the USS Constitution, America’s first great warship. Launched in Boston in 1797, America’s Ship of State earned her nickname “Old Ironsides” during the War of 1812 when she fought the British frigate HMS Guerriere.

On our National Park ranger-led tour, we visited sites along the Freedom Trail and heard about the American Revolutionary story, the people who lived here, their courage, and what they risked striving for freedom.

Freedom Trail, the red-brick line through the city takes us on a tour of 16 sites in Boston’s history for two and a half miles, including Boston Common, the State House, the Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, King’s Chapel, the site of the first public school, Old South Meeting House, the Old Statehouse, the Boston Massacre Site, Paul Revere’s House, the Old North Church, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, the USS Constitution and Bunker Hill Monument.

The Freedom Trail was created in 1951 to set recognize and set aside a cluster of historically significant building and locations in downtown Boston.

Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Boston Freedom Trail © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

We began our 90-minute ranger-led tour at the Old State House and concluded at the Old North Church, five sites along the Freedom trail that highlights Boston’s role in the American Revolution. The other sites, prior to and following our ranger-led tour, were on our own.

And that my friends, is the subject of another post.

Worth Pondering…

Among the natural rights of the colonists are these: First a right to life, secondly to liberty, and thirdly to property; together with the right to defend them in the best manner they can.

—Samuel Adams

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New England Campgrounds That Love Dogs

Campgrounds in New England that love dogs provide amenities that go above and beyond to ensure you and your four-legged friends are comfortable throughout your camping experience.

Dog park in Normandy Farms Campground, Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Source: USA Today)
Dog park in Normandy Farms Campground, Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Source: USA Today)

Campgrounds that offer leash-free areas larger than a postage stamp, tools that help make cleaning up after your pet a breeze, and an inclusive policy that rejects banning dogs based on breed type demonstrate truly dog-loving campgrounds along the East Coast, according to a USA Today report.

Campers need to do their part as well by following campsite rules with regard to leash policies, cleanup, and supervision.

USA Today recommends that dog owners use the following four steps when camping with their pets.

Step 1

Look for campgrounds that provide leash-free, fenced zones as well as areas to explore with your leashed pet.

Bay View Campgrounds on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, provides a leash-free, fenced dog park away from most of the campsites to prevent disturbing other campers.

Some campgrounds offer doggy day camp, too, such as KOA Chocorua in Tamworth, New Hampshire, which offers a 15,000-square-foot dog park equipped with AKC agility equipment and kennels to board your dog should you need doggy daycare. If your destination provides this service, be sure to check the rules regarding supervised play and vaccinations.

Step 2

Camping with pets (Source: redwoodgoodsam.org)
Camping with pets (Source: redwoodgoodsam.org)

Use your own pet waste pickup bags unless the campground offers pet waste bag stations equipped with eco-friendly bags and trashcans for easy cleanup. Truly dog-loving campsites ensure that designated “potty areas” for dogs are set away from campsites and are well-maintained.

Many campsites in New England have clean up stations and designated dog areas, but Scenic View Campground in Warren, New Hampshire, provides free cleanup bags if you run out.

Step 3

Record the campground contact information ahead of your visit to have on hand should a problem arise with another camper’s dog, suggests USA Today. Pet-friendly campgrounds will provide contact information should you need to report dog aggression or another incident that violates campsite rules.

In addition, a reputable campground will require pet owners to provide current vaccination records. At Ross Hill Park in Lisbon, Connecticut, for example, a rabies certificate must be presented at the time of check-in, and the campsite forbids visitors from bringing in their dog. A policy like this helps prevents canine disease from spreading by ensuring that the dogs that are allowed into the park are properly vaccinated.

Step 4

Camping with pets (Source: camping-essentials.org)
Camping with pets (Source: camping-essentials.org)

Check the campground policy regarding breed restrictions. If certain breeds are restricted from visiting the campsite, consider choosing a different location to stake your tent or park your recreational vehicle.

Breed discrimination policies often exclude well behaved, socialized dogs while overlooking more comprehensive language that helps ensure the safety of you and your pets. Often a campground in New England that loves dogs include specific behavior that is not acceptable, such as excessive barking, jumping on other guests, or any outwardly aggressive behavior toward other people and pets.

Worth Pondering…

I am part of all that I have met

Yet all experience is an arch wherethro

Gleams that untravell’d world, whose margin fades

Forever and forever when I move.

—Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Hurricane Irene: “Get the Hell off the Beach”

Hurricane Irene made landfall near Cape Lookout, North Carolina, just before 8 a.m. EDT with Category 1-force winds of 85 mph.

This graphic shows an approximate representation of coastal areas under a hurricane warning (red), hurricane watch (pink), tropical storm warning (blue) and tropical storm watch (yellow). The orange circle indicates the current position of the center of the tropical cyclone. (Credit: noaa.gov)

The center of Irene is located about 5 miles north-northeast of Cape Lookout, North Carolina, or about 60 miles southwest of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and is moving to the north-northeast near 14 miles per hour.

The center of Irene is forecast to cross through the North Carolina Sounds, through the Outer Banks, and back into the Atlantic today, then riding up the coast with an eventual landfall anticipated on Sunday along Long Island then on the other side of Long Island Sound in Southern New England as a minimal hurricane.

Tropical-storm-force winds will continue to spread up the coast and inland across parts of North Carolina and Virginia, with hurricane-force winds moving onto the North Carolina Coast near the Sounds and along the Outer Banks.

Hurricane warnings for the next 48 hours have been issued for North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland, Delaware, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, coastal Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

Hurricane Irene's outer bands reach Kill Devil Hills, N.C., early Saturday, Aug. 27, 2011. Hurricane Irene has weakened to a Category 1 storm as it nears the North Carolina coast but forecasters say it remains extremely dangerous. (Credit: ABC News)

So far, eastern North Carolina has already seen three tornadoes in the past few days, and the majority of the state and areas of Maryland and Virginia are under tornado watches through Sunday.

Nearly 200,000 homes in North Carolina are without power. Hardest hit were Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, where Progress Energy reports 190,000 customers without power. Most of those customers are residences.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie didn’t sugarcoat his warnings yesterday (August 26) for residents of his state still on the coast as Hurricane Irene lumbered northeastward: “Get the hell off the beach. You’ve maximized your tan.”

“Don’t wait. Don’t delay,” said U.S. President Barack Obama. “I cannot stress this highly enough: If you are in the projected path of this hurricane, you have to take precautions now.”

This is especially sage advice for all RVers along the Eastern Seaboard. “Get the hell out of Dodge!”

Evacuation orders for the country’s eastern seaboard covered at least 2.3 million people, including 1 million in New Jersey, 315,000 in Maryland, 300,000 in North Carolina, 200,000 in Virginia, and 100,000 in Delaware.

“This is probably the largest number of people that have been threatened by a single hurricane in the United States,” said Jay Baker, a geography professor at Florida State University.

The last hurricane to make landfall in the U.S. was Ike, which pounded Texas in 2008.

Abandoned beach front houses are surrounded by rising water in Nags Head, North Carolina. (Credit: Gerry Broome/AP)

After several extremely active years, Florida has not been struck by a hurricane since Wilma raked across the state’s south in October 2005. That storm was responsible for at least five deaths in the state and came two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

It has been said to everything there is a season. Hurricane season is considered between June 1 and mid- to late- November and should be of some concern to RVers.

Here are some bits of information that may help RVers in understanding hurricanes and in planning survival preparations:

  • Hurricanes don’t appear without warning as tornadoes often do.
  • Hurricanes slowly develop from tropical depressions into tropical storms before becoming named hurricanes. The process takes days, sometimes weeks. By the time they are named they are being followed closely by weather media.
  • As they develop they grow in size. Average is 200 to 400 miles across. The big ones grow to 550 or more miles wide.
  • Hurricanes move forward slowly along their way which is not a straight line. They have been known to twist and turn and double back or go in a loop.
  • Some Hurricanes carry huge quantities of rain while others transport very little water.
  • A danger of hurricanes comes from flying debris picked up by the winds and thrown or dropped with great force.
  • Tornadoes are frequently spawned by hurricanes.

Worth Pondering…
Get the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out. You’re done. It’s 4:30. You’ve maximized your tan. Get off the beach. Get in your cars and get out of those areas.

—New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

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