Friday, November 27, 2009

Plymouth, Massachusetts

During the first half of our recent trip to New England, we visited the Plymouth, Massachusetts area.  Plymouth is best known for being the site of the colony established by the Pilgrims, passengers of the Mayflower. Plymouth has a very interesting history.  It was founded in 1620 and is the oldest municipality in New England and one of the oldest in the United States.  It also is the oldest continually inhabited English settlement in the modern United States. The town has served as the location of several prominent events, the most notable being the First Thanksgiving feast.  Plymouth served as the capital of Plymouth Colony from its founding in 1620 until the colony's dissolution in 1691.  Prior to the arrival of the Pilgrims, the location of Plymouth was a village of 2,000 Wampanoag Native Americans called Patuxet.  This region that would become Plymouth was visited twice by European explorers prior to the establishment of Plymouth Colony. In 1605, Samuel de Champlain sailed to Plymouth Harbor, calling it Port St. Louis.  In 1614, Captain John Smith, a leader of the Jamestown settlement, explored parts of Cape Cod Bay; he is credited with naming the region which would become the future Plymouth Colony as "New Plimouth."

The town of Plymouth is a typical New England town with an interesting collection of homes, shops, restaurants, and museums.  The main attractions of the town, of course, are Plymouth Rock and the Mayflower II, which both lie along Plymouth Harbor

Traditionally, Plymouth Rock is said to be the disembarkation site of the Pilgrims. However, there is no historical evidence to support this theory. The first identification of Plymouth Rock as the actual landing site was made in 1741 by 94-year-old Thomas Faunce, whose father had arrived in Plymouth in 1623, three years after the arrival of the Mayflower.  The rock is located roughly 650 feet from where the initial settlement was thought to be built.  When the townspeople of Plymouth decided to move the rock in 1774, the rock was split into two halves, and it was decided to leave the bottom portion behind at the wharf and the top half was relocated to the town's meeting-house.  During the Rock's many journeys throughout the town of Plymouth numerous pieces of the Rock were taken, bought and sold. Today approximately one-third of the top portion remains. 

The Mayflower II is a full-size replica of the Mayflower, the ship which brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth in 1620. It is located at the State Pier in Plymouth Center. The ship is open as a museum about the Pilgrims' historic voyage from Plymouth, England, and is considered a faithful replica of the original Mayflower.  It is officially a part of Plimoth Plantation.  The ship was built in Brixham, England in 1956, and sailed to Plymouth across the Atlantic Ocean in 1957 by famous mariner Alan Villiers.  The ship is still seaworthy, and routinely takes voyages around Plymouth Harbor.  When you're on the ship, it's hard to imagine about 120 people living there for the voyage across the ocean.  There are also a few very realistic-looking sailors in character to answer any questions.

Plimoth Plantation sits about three miles outside the town of Plymouth and is a living museum that reconstructs the original settlement of the Plymouth Colony established in the 17th century by English colonists, some of whom later became known as Pilgrims.  The 1627 English Village is a speculative re-creation of the settlement as it would have appeared about 1627, seven years after the arrival of the Mayflower.  No one knows exactly what Plymouth Colony looked like in 1627.  The original colonists lived where the modern town of Plymouth is now. The 1627 English Village re-creation is about one-third the size of the original colony and gives the visitor a picture of the homes, gardens, fields, work areas, animals, and people in 1627.  The town is populated by “interpreters” who stay in character to answer questions, discuss their lives and viewpoints and participate in tasks such as cooking, planting, blacksmithing and animal husbandry.

Another part of the Plimoth Plantation experience is a recreation of a Wampanoag Homesite alongside the 1627 English Village.  The homesite is a re-created home and garden of a single 17th-century Wampanoag family where you can interact with modern Native American People from a variety of nations who explain and demonstrate how the Wampanoag's ancestors lived and interacted with the settlers.  Unlike the 1627 English Village, there are no "characters" here.  The staff is dressed in traditional deerskin clothing and answer questions from a 21st-century viewpoint about the experiences of the Wampanoag.

During our three night stay in the Plymouth area, we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn just outside town.  We’ve stayed at a number of HGI’s over the last few years in various locations.  If you don’t want to pay for something overly fancy but still want something very nice, you always know what to expect with the Hilton Garden Inns because they’re all exactly the same.  The room rate that includes the buffet breakfast is usually a good deal since the breakfast includes cooked-to-order hot dishes (eggs, omelets, pancakes, waffles, etc.).

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  1. Lou, There are some absolutely gorgeous pictures here. I'll come back and look around more when I have a little time. Patrick is still home and we are working on a game together, so I have to get back to that now. Just wanted to pop in and say Hi.

    Ceci Riehl

  2. Thanks, Ceci. Great to hear from you. I hope everyone is doing well.