Sunday, October 6, 2013

Boston - Day 3: Minute Man National Historic Park

On Monday, September 30, we were running out of time to see national parks before the looming "government shutdown", so we took in Minute Man NHP while we had the chance.

We saw so many neat things in this park! As usual, we started at the visitor center and watched a multimedia theater program called "The Road to Revolution". It was so engaging, I wanted to watch it again!

We took off driving along the Battle Road Trail. There are numerous preserved original homes along this road which connects Lexington and Concord, but most of them were closed for the season. We did, however, stop at Hartwell Tavern where we met some costumed demonstrators (park rangers) who taught us many things about the history of the area. Hartwell Tavern was the halfway point between Lexington and Concord, and anyone traveling between the two towns back in the 1700's would have stopped at the tavern along the way.

Since it was a Monday morning and we were the only ones there, the kids received a lot of individual attention from the park rangers. Part of that attention was a private "muster drill" for the family. Each person received a wooden replica of a musket and were taught how the minute men would have drilled to be ready for battle. I'm not so sure what the older boys thought of that, but the younger two really enjoyed it! Afterwards, we were the only ones in attendance when one of the costumed park rangers demonstrated and actually shot his musket several times. We really enjoyed our time at Hartwell Tavern!

Our next stop along the Battle Road Trail was called Meriam's Corner. This was one of the many sites along the road where battle occurred as the British were retreating from Concord. There is a gravesite of an unnamed British soldier here.

Our next stop didn't have anything to do with the Revolutionary War, but rather with the area's unique heritage in American literature. The Wayside was the only owned home of Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of "The Scarlet Letter". Louisa May Alcott spent her childhood here, and it is the inspiration for scenes in  "Little Women". And Margaret Sidney also lived here, author of "Five Little Peppers".

Our final stop was in Concord at the famous North Bridge. It was here that the first shot of the Revolutionary War was fired. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, it was "the shot heard 'round the world." We walked across the bridge, saw another burial site of unnamed British soldiers, and listened to a costumed park volunteer give an account of what happened that fateful day.

At this point, we were pretty much finished exploring the National Park, but there was one other stop nearby that we wanted to see: the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. We really just wanted to go there to creep out the boys - they know the Legend of Sleepy Hollow! - but what we found there instead was a pleasant surprise for us all! We visited the gravesites of the area's famous authors: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and my favorite, Louisa May Alcott. It was an honor to pay homage to these literary giants.

Next, as we were driving away from the Battle Road Trail, we passed the site where Paul Revere was captured, but we didn't stop because we wanted to see the Lexington Battle Green before it got too late in the day. In Lexington, we walked around the Battle Green and learned that underneath the park are buried the casualties of the battle that occurred there on April 19, 1775.

We had another very interesting and educational day. The younger two boys earned their Junior Ranger badges, and the rest of us enjoyed the day.