Travelrific® Travel Journal

Picture postcards in prose.™ Check out the blogroll on the front page for official merchandise and other resources!

Archive for massachusetts

A Little Cottage in the Berkshires

By Linda Tancs

A home with 44 rooms might not sound like much of a “cottage,” but that’s the way the owners of Naumkeag liked to think of it. It once was the family home of Joseph Choate, a prominent New York attorney and U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain, and his family. Located in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the 48-acre bucolic estate boasts 8 acres of formal gardens for your strolling pleasure. Depending on when you visit, part of the house may be open. The estate’s name is derived from the Algonkian word for “fish,” owing to its roots as a fishing settlement.

A Big Tree in a Small Town

By Linda Tancs

Egremont, Massachusetts, is a small town in the Berkshires, the kind of out-of-the-way place you’d expect a celebrated writer to hunker down in while writing the next great American novel. But the most celebrated thing there is a tree. Not just any tree, mind you, but a colossal twin-trunked elm about 150 years old lovingly named Elma. It resides alone on Baldwin Hill in the middle of a cornfield, its isolation credited for its survival against that elm-felling, beetle-borne fungus known as Dutch elm disease. It strikes quite the pose against the rural landscape (which includes the Housatonic River Valley and some of the Berkshire Hills), making it perhaps the most photographed tree in western Massachusetts.

To the Heights in Massachusetts

By Linda Tancs

At 3,491 feet, Mount Greylock is the highest point in Massachusetts. On a clear day, you can see as far as 90 miles away. Nowadays, Mount Greylock State Reservation is bursting with spring color. Shortly, you’ll also be able to take the high road (literally) to the peak via Rockwell Road, which is open seasonally. The crowning attraction is the Veterans War Memorial Tower, a 92-foot-tall granite tower dedicated to those who served the U.S. during World War I.

A Little Lamb in Massachusetts

By Linda Tancs

For fans of nursery rhymes, you’ll find a nod to “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in Sterling, Massachusetts. The story goes that Mary Sawyer was followed to school there in the 1800s by her pet lamb, prompting a town visitor to write a poem about it. To commemorate the event, a statue of a lamb was later erected to boast of the locale as the birthplace for the nursery rhyme beloved by many. You’ll find the statue at the corner of Main Street and Meetinghouse Hill Road.

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.

%d bloggers like this: