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Archive for massachusetts

The City That Lit the World

By Linda Tancs

New Bedford, Massachusetts, was the 19th-century capital of the whaling industry. Most of the whale oil used in lamps derived from the locale, earning it the moniker “the city that lit the world.” Home to about 500 whaling ships during its heydey, the city also inspired Herman Melville’s classic, Moby-Dick. Its whaling heritage is preserved as part of New Bedford National Historical Park. One of its most impressive buildings is the U.S. Custom House, the oldest continuously operating custom house in the nation. Historically, whaling masters registered their ships and cargo at the two-storied, Greek Revival building; as the New Bedford office of the U.S. Customs Service, commercial fishing and cargo ships continue to log duties and tariffs there. The visitor center in the heart of the park provides orientation materials as well as information on city attractions.

A Birthplace of Industry

By Linda Tancs

Often described as the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park runs from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Providence, Rhode Island. Several textile mills along the river sparked the transition from farm to factory, but it was the success of Samuel Slater’s cotton spinning mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, that transformed American industry. Visitors to the park can explore it at their own pace through walking tours of company towns and planned mill villages like Whitinsville and Slatersville. You can also take a ranger-led tour of Old Slater Mill, paddle along the river and bike through the soon-to-be completed Blackstone River Bikeway from Massachusetts to Rhode Island.

A Highway of History

By Linda Tancs

The Mohawk Trail is New England’s first scenic road. One of the oldest scenic routes in the country, it was established in 1914. At 63 miles, it stretches from the Massachusetts-New York line to Millers Falls on the Connecticut River. Among the many attractions are the only natural white marble arch in North America as well as Indian and Revolutionary War monuments and ancient glacial potholes. During the first two weeks of October, fall foliage generally peaks, bringing not only spectacular color but also a fall foliage festival and parade in North Adams, one of many towns making up the trail region.

Cape Cod’s Oldest Church

By Linda Tancs

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Old Indian Meeting House in Mashpee, Massachusetts, is the oldest Native American church in the eastern U.S. and the oldest church on Cape Cod. According to many sources, it was built in 1684. Located next to the cemetery on Route 28, it’s of extraordinary importance to the Wampanoag Tribe and has been extensively renovated.

The Colonies’ Last Light

By Linda Tancs

A mile offshore of Rockport, Thacher Island is a small seacoast town about 40 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts. It’s home to Cape Ann Light Station, a National Historic Landmark with twin lighthouses. The site bears significance as the last light station established under colonial rule (in 1771) and the first station in the United States to mark a navigational hazard rather than a harbor entrance. The area was indeed hazardous. Looking to the southeast from the towers you may see an iron pole jutting out from the water, which marks an area called the “Londoner” because the reef just below the surface claimed hundreds of vessels mostly bound to Boston from London in the early 1700s. The original wooden lighthouses were replaced with identical granite lights in 1861. At 124 feet, they’re the tallest lighthouses in the state. The island is open to visitors from June to September and is accessible via small boat, kayak or the island’s launch service.

A Poet and a Patriot

By Linda Tancs

In the 19th century, it certainly wasn’t an everyday occurrence for a Revolutionary War general to stay in a poet’s house. But for renowned poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow it occurred when George Washington stayed at his house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, during the Siege of Boston beginning in 1775. As a result, the Longfellow House is a National Historic Site. He lived in the house for 45 years; visits are by guided tour only from May to October.

Monument to the Forefathers

By Linda Tancs

Today is Forefathers’ Day in Plymouth, Massachusetts. Celebrated each year on December 22, it commemorates the arrival of the Mayflower pilgrims ashore on December 21, 1620. Sounds like the perfect day to visit the National Monument to the Forefathers. Located on Allerton Street, it’s thought to be the largest solid granite monument in the country at 81 feet. The allegorical figures around its base depict the attributes of faith, morality, education, law and liberty.


To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The Paper House

By Linda Tancs

You may be familiar with the expression about building a house on sand. But what about building one out of paper? The Paper House in Rockport, Massachusetts, is just that—a house made from paper. Built out of newspaper by mechanical engineer Elis Stenman, the unusual abode also contains a paper-based piano as well as a desk and chair. The house is open for tours every day from spring through autumn.

America’s Ship of State

By Linda Tancs

USS Constitution is America’s ship of state and the world’s oldest commissioned warship afloat. Open free of charge to visitors throughout the year, it’s located inside Boston National Historical Park as part of the Charlestown Navy Yard in Charlestown, Massachusetts, and forms part of Boston’s Freedom Trail. It earned the nickname “Old Ironsides” when it routed British forces in a War of 1812 battle in the North Atlantic Ocean. During this historic battle, cannonballs fired at USS Constitution appeared to bounce off, causing one of her crew to remark that her sides were made of iron. It is, in fact, composed of a three-layer wooden sandwich of live oak and white oak from all across America, and its copper fastenings were constructed by Paul Revere. Visitors to this historic ship launched in 1797 are able to speak with active duty U.S. Navy sailors who are stationed at the ship as interpretative historians to help bring the frigate’s storied past to life. To round out the experience, visit the nearby USS Constitution Museum.

A Big Drop in Massachusetts

By Linda Tancs

The highest single-drop waterfall in Massachusetts, Bash Bish Falls in Mount Washington is arguably the most photographed waterfall in the state. The final cascade splits into twin falls by a jutting rock, dropping in an 80-foot “V” pattern over boulders into a pool below. Enjoy the quick hike along the falls, starting at the Upper Falls parking lot for a steep climb down along the falls or alternatively from the lower trails. Go before the crush of summer crowds kicks in.


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