Northeast U.S. National Park Unit Trip – Part 1

October 27, 2017

Northeast U.S. National Park Unit Trip – October 2017     Part 1

10/12 – Harriet Tubman NHP in Auburn NY; I visited Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in MD earlier this year – see April 2017. As is stated there, “She emancipated herself in 1849 at the age of 27 by escaping to PA (100 miles away), a non-slave state. She earned the nickname “Moses” for risking her life in guiding more than 70 of her family and friends to freedom. She also served as a nurse and spy for Union forces during the Civil War. Her knowledge of tidal stream areas helped her lead a raid in SC, the first woman to lead a U.S. army military assault. She eventually settled her family in Auburn NY, was active in the women’s suffrage movement, practiced her faith and founded a home for the elderly and disadvantaged.”

Our first stop was her grave in Fort Hill Cemetery (1822-1913)

She moved her family from Ontario Canada to Auburn NY in 1859. She continued to aid the poor and established a Home for the Aged on her farm in 1908.

She was very active in the Thompson African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church


Our next stop was Thomas Cole National Historic Site just south of Albany in the village of Catskill NY at the foot of the Catskill Mountains in the Hudson Valley

This is a NP affiliate site; you can tour the grounds but there is a fee to tour the Main House and Studios at Cedar Grove

1815 federal style Main House

Thomas Cole (1801 – 1848) founded the first major art movement in America – The Hudson River School. This is a view from the front porch of the Main House followed by two of Cole’s paintings of this view

Our guide and other Cole paintings

The 1839 Old Studio, he made his own paints, which may have contributed to his respiratory problems and early death


This was our biggest day traveling. We had already driven for 4.5 hours and now we had an additional 7 hours to our Fairfield Inn in Bangor ME


10/13 – Arrived at the new (2016) Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in ME at 9:30am. It is located on the east border of the huge Baxter State Park. We drove the 17-mile Katahdin Loop Road in the SE part of the monument.

This land was a gift to the NPS, however, it has been opposed by locals and the lumber industry. I believe mainly because of access issues related to roads, bridges and trees. President Trump directed the new Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review the last 27 national park units that were designated by the Obama administration. He sent a report to the President in August however few details were released. The speculation is that he recommended changes in management of this National Monument that would be favorable to the lumber industry.

It was 30 degrees when we started the day but warmed up to the 50s by the time we left at 12:30

The Fall colors were at their peak – BEAUTIFUL

We started by taking a short hike to Lynx Pond

Picnic with a view!

Mount Katahdin (5,267 ft), is the highpoint of ME and the start (or finish) of the Appalachian Trail (AT). Helen and I climbed it in 1972, I climbed it in 1974 and Kate and I climbed it in 1996, all by different routes.

We only saw three people during our visit, one of which was Anita Mueller who wrote the text and did some of the photography for the Loop Road Interpretive Map. We asked her to autograph our map! Our last hike (mile 12) was to the Katahdin Brook Lean-to. It is on the northern extension of the AT, which continues up to Canada.


It took 3 hours to drive to Saint Croix Island International Historic Site on the St. Croix River south of Calais ME

The Visitor Center is on the mainland and the island is in the river next to the U.S.-Canadian border. You can take a private boat there but the NPS discourages visits due to erosion and other possible damage to the island. There is a short trail that leads to a point overlooking the river and island.

In 1604, Pierre Dugua sailed from France with the directive to “establish the name, power, and authority of the King of France; to summon the natives to a knowledge of the Christian religion; to people, cultivate, and settle the said lands; to make explorations and especially to seek out mines of precious metals.” This is a bronze of the settlement designed by Samuel Champlain who was on the voyage. Champlain hoped to discover a “Northwest Passage” to the Orient.

There are a series of descriptive signs and bronze statues along the trail

Building the settlement

Exploring the coast

That winter the settlement on the island was trapped by ice and 35 men died, almost half their number

In the Spring of 1605, Dugua directed that the buildings be taken down and the settlement was moved across the Bay of Fundy to Port Royal, which is now Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia Canada.   It was the first permanent European settlement north of St Augustine FL.

Enjoyed a Lobster Sub before heading (6 hours) to our Fairfield Inn in Andover MA for the night



10/14 – Andover is just north of Boston and it took an hour to drive into the city to the Longfellow House/ Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site and then find parking.  It is located near the Harvard University campus in Cambridge.

The Georgian style mansion was built for Maj. John Vassall Jr in 1759 and his family occupied the house until 1774. He was a loyalist and the family sailed to England for safety that year and never returned. Gen. George Washington lived in the house and used it for his headquarters from 1775-1776 during the siege of Boston. Andrew Craigie bought the estate in 1791 and when he died in 1819 his wife Elizabeth started taking in boarders to make ends meet. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a young Harvard Professor, rented two rooms in the mansion from 1837 to 1843. That year he married Fanny Appleton. Her father was a wealthy textile manufacturer and presented the estate to the couple for their wedding present. Fanny burned to death in 1881 when her dress caught fire! Henry died the following year. The mansion is noted for its formal garden.

The parlor is the most elegant room in the house and was used as a drawing room by both Martha Washington and Fanny Longfellow.  Ranger Anne gave us an excellent tour of the mansion.

Longfellow was one of America’s most celebrated authors and poets. He wrote “Evangeline,” “The Song of Hiawatha,” and “Paul Revere’s Ride.” These pictures are from his spacious library where they held musical performances and had other social gatherings.

Alice’s Bedroom – the house and archives preserve over 750,000 individual items


John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site is located in Brookline a suburb of Boston. This was the first home of Joseph P. and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. They live here from 1914 to 1920.

Four of the Kennedy’s nine children were born here: Joseph in 1915, John in 1917, Rosemary in 1918 and Kathleen in 1920.

JFK was born in the bed closest to the front window, so there would be more light

Dining Room – note the second picture showing how the young children were always included in the meals. Rose was a strict mother and directly involved in the education of her children. She had many “home tasks” for them including asking their thoughts at the evening meal on an article she had posted that morning. Something I wish I had done with my own children.

Jack’s Bedroom – he was a sickly child and spent a lot of time here

Living Room – all children were required to take music lessons

Rose’s Desk – after JFK’s death, Rose bought the house and was directly involved in furnishing it to the 1914-1920 era. The Kennedy family donated the house to the NPS in 1969.


Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site is also located in Brookline, only 15 minutes from the JFK site

Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) is known as the first U.S. “Landscape Architect.” In 1883 he moved his home and office from NY to this farmhouse, which he called Fairsted. His sons continued the business until 1979. The NPS acquired Fairsted in 1980.

Olmsted and his firm designed parks, cemeteries, campuses, hospital grounds, railway stations, zoos, and private estates.

His notable designs include Central Park NY, Chicago’s World’s Fair (EXPO 1893), the U.S. Capital grounds, Rock Creek Park in DC, Vanderbilt’s NC Biltmore estate, Boston Park System, Chicago suburb of Riverside, etc.

He saw cities as places where people “look closely upon one another without sympathy” and quarters of crime and misery. He believed his parks would replace “debasing pursuits and brutalizing pleasure” with “rational enjoyment.” He saw his designs as promoting “communicativeness” and a healthy participation in civic life. Here are some pictures from our tour:


Drove into Boston and parked at the Boston Commons Underground Garage. A great starting point for touring downtown. We had done a complete tour/walk, “Freedom Trail,” of Boston National Historical Park with our mothers in 1970.  Forty seven years later, we couldn’t believe it – when we walked in this bar on Beacon St, everyone knew our names!

On this trip we wanted to visit the Boston African American National Historic Site and do the “Black Heritage Trail” (1.6 miles). This bronze relief sculpture titled the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial by Saint-Gaudens is located at the NE corner of Boston Commons. It depicts the first Black Civil War Regiment, the 54th Massachusetts (1863).

The Abiel Smith School (on corner) and the African Meeting House behind it are other stops on the Black Heritage Trail.

These sites represent and interpret Boston’s free African American community on the north slope of Beacon Hill in the 1800s. The Museum of African American History is now located in the African Meeting House, which was built by free black laborers in 1806.

The museum had a special exhibit on Frederick Douglass. He has his own National Historic Site in Washington DC

Douglass’s first wife Anna Murray died in 1882. In 1884, he married Helen Potts (right). Her sister Eva is in the center of the photo.

Political cartoon related to the marriage

The George Middleton House (1787). Colonel Middleton was the leader of a black militia company called Bucks of America during the Revolutionary War.

An additional half mile walk took us to Faneuil Hall (background), which is the Visitor Center for the Boston NHP and a central stop on the Freedom Trail (2.5 miles). Faneuil Hall is referred to as the Cradle of Liberty because of the meetings and debates that took place here before and after the American Revolution.

It was Saturday evening and there was a large Farmers Market taking place on adjacent streets. Terrific prices on fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, etc. We ate a box of raspberries as an appetizer and then found a nearby restaurant called North 26 where we sated ourselves with 1 1/4 lb lobster dinners, including clam chowder, ear of corn and potatoes for $20! The following are a few sites on our walk back to Boston Commons. First the Old State House (1713). This was the site of the Boston Massacre in 1770.

Old South Meeting House (1729) – it was a Puritan house of worship and the largest building in colonial Boston. At an overflow meeting here on December 16, 1773, Samuel Adams launched the Boston Tea Party.

Boston’s Old City Hall – seat of government 1865 – 1969.

Massachusetts State House (1795) – hats off to our veterans!


10/15 – Lowell National Historical Park, just NW of Boston. Lowell was built as a factory city along the Merrimack River 1821-22. A dam at Pawtucket Falls harnessed the power of the river and directed it via canals through the city. This was the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in America, changing the country from agrarian to primarily industrial. Cotton textiles fostered not only working-class labor in the mills but also supported slave labor on the cotton plantations in the South. The Visitor Center is located in Market Mills, formerly known as Lowell Mills.


We walked about two miles along the canal way walking paths stopping at locks, mill buildings, parks, and various displays.

Model of the Mills in their heyday


In many ways, the divide in our country today has its roots in “The Great Debate”

Lower Locks connecting the Pawtucket Canal to the Concord River

The Massachusetts Mills have been turned into apartments

It was Sunday and, unfortunately, the diner was closed. It looked like our kind of place!

A free trolley runs from the Visitor Center to the Boott Cotton Mills, but we found it faster to walk than to wait on their schedule. However, if I come back again, I would enjoy taking the ranger trolley tour. There is also a ranger canal boat tour, but it was closed for the season.

The NPS has done an outstanding job on the Boott Cotton Mills Museum

Mill floor with working machines, they gave us ear plugs to protect our ears!

Making cloth

Locomotives in Lowell

The end or an era

It was an hour drive to the Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site

Iron Works House 1680s


Tactile Site Map

1930 – 300th year anniversary!

View from near house

Blast furnace

View from blast furnace

Casting House – notice large bellows for producing sow bars

The Forge – sow bars were converted to wrought iron bars, the Saugus works’ major product. Most, 7 of 8, were shipped to Boston and other New England settlements for working into products

Rolling and Slitting Mill – 1 in 8 iron bars were made into 8 to 10-foot rods of various widths and thicknesses. An outside waterwheel turned a cog wheel inside the mill. In turn, the teeth of the cog wheel meshed with a lantern wheel whose shaft turned rollers and slitters. Some of the rolled pieces were shipped to farmers who could turn them into iron tires for wagon wheels and other items.

Blacksmith Shop – the Saugus blacksmith cut some of the thin rods into nails for local use and forged bars into items like hinges, hoes, shovels, kettle hooks, andirons, latches, and tongs.

View back from blacksmith shop

River Basin Terminus – for shipment of products

One day per year the NPS does an iron casting demonstration on site and we were there on that day!

End products, NPS emblems


An additional hour drive took us to Salem MA and the Salem Maritime National Historic Site. In the 1630s Salem was a fishing and boat building site. In the 1640s it started exporting its products to the West Indies, England and the Mediterranean. By the mid-1700s Salem merchants felt that the British were imposing unfair trade regulations and furthermore were not protecting their ships from the French and Spanish. They became strong supporters of independence and the American Revolution. Salem was the only major American port that never fell to the British during the war. It was also an active base for “Privateers.”

Until the 1860s, governments licensed privately owned vessels to target enemy nations shipping. These “Privateers” operated under strict rules. Captured vessels or “Prizes” would be auctioned off and taxed, providing major funding for the revolution! One Salem “Prize” brought over two million dollars in today’s currency. During the Revolution, nearly 200 Salem privateers captured about 500 British vessels. Again, during the War of 1812, 40 Salem privateers captured about 300 British vessels.

We arrived at the Visitor Center at exactly 3pm, which allowed us to see the last showing of “Salem Witch Hunt.” The Essex National Heritage Area charges a fee for this film ($3 for seniors). We then toured the site and at 4pm saw the movie “Where Past is Present” – free.

When we arrived in Salem it was extremely difficult to find a parking place. There are more tourists in October than at any other time of the year. The main attractions are related to the Salem Witch Trials and Halloween. Of course, the Fall colors are also an attraction. Hundreds of tourists in costume crowded the street. The annual Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Motorcycle “Witch Ride” from Revere MA to Salem arrived at the same time we did! Lots of noise!

The Old Burying Point Cemetery is Salem is a big hit with tourists. Tours emphasize the Witch Trials of 1692.

Yes, there were male witches!

A relative?

The main sites related to the national historical site are at the waterfront

Custom House and Public Stores – Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter begins in the records of the Custom House.

Unfortunately, the replica of the 1797 sailing ship the Friendship of Salem was in dry dock for restoration.  Two of the masts can be seen behind the Sailing Loft.

We made the last tour at the House of the Seven Gables, which is a private enterprise created by Caroline Emmerton in the early 20th century (seniors $14). Hawthorne’s novel, by the same name, is set in this house (his cousins). His ancestors played a part in the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s birthplace (1750). He was born in this house on July 4, 1804. The house was moved from Union St in Salem to the grounds here in 1958.

We hiked a half mile out to the still active 1871 Light Station – note the ghosts we found out there! We then shared a delicious Seafood Fra Diavolo dinner at Brothers Taverna.


10/16 – Adams National Historical Park is located in Quincy MA just south of Boston. You can get free parking at the downtown garage by presenting your ticket to a ranger at the Visitor Center next door. We arrived at 9:15am and immediately got our ticket (free) for the first tour of the day at 9:15! A guided shuttle trolley transports you to the house where John Adams was born in 1735, for a ranger tour. The house (front part) was built in 1681 and purchased by Deacon John Adams, John’s father, in 1720. The back part was added on later. Upon his father’s death in 1761, John’s brother Peter Boylston Adams inherited the original homestead. The adjacent house (75 feet away), which Deacon John purchased in 1744, was bequeathed to John. The future second president eventually bought his birthplace from his brother in 1774. John and Abigail Adams lived next door and rented out this house during the Revolutionary War. No photos are permitted in any of the houses on the tour due to thefts that were thought to be related to tourists taking pictures to identify items.

The houses are in their original locations on Franklin Street which formerly was part of the “Old Coast Road ” that went from Boston to Plymouth.  They are called “saltboxes” because of their resemblance to slant-lid boxes found in colonial kitchens that held salt. John Quincy Adams, our 6th President, was born in this house on July 11, 1767. John Adams was a successful lawyer and able to upgrade his home, including the paint you see on the outside.

Some history – for me to keep this in order! One of John’s clients was the wealthy and prominent John Hancock. Adams was a delegate to both the First and Second Continental Congresses. He proposed George Washington as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, and argued forcefully for and helped his friend Thomas Jefferson draft the Declaration of Independence. He was diplomat to France, taking his oldest son John Quincy Adams on his diplomatic mission, “in order to give the boy international experience and provide for a second generation of enlightened leadership in U.S. foreign relations.” He returned home in 1778.

A year later he was called upon to return to Paris to negotiate treaties of peace and commerce with Great Britain. This time, John Quincy and his brother Charles accompanied their father on the long voyage across the Atlantic. In 1783, he achieved his crowning diplomatic achievement when he negotiated and signed the Treaty of Paris, securing recognition of the United States’ independence from Great Britain.

Adams remained in Europe until 1788, strengthening U.S. foreign relations by securing loans from Holland, concluding treaties with several European nations, and serving as the first U.S. minister to Great Britain. John took advantage of the opportunity that peace provided to reunite his family. Abigail and daughter Nabby sailed to Europe in 1784.

In 1788, the family returned to MA and moved into their newly purchased home. However, John was again gone in 1789 when he became our nation’s first Vice President. He held this post with President George Washington until 1797 when he was elected the second President of the United States. He had to deal with the war between France and England and alienated France when he did not come to their aid. He founded the Department of the Navy, and the U.S.S. Constitution and several other ships were launched. While this maritime defense deterred further French aggression, Adams signed into law a series of measures to restore domestic tranquility and preserve the Union. This legislation, which came to be known as the Alien and Sedition Acts, was pushed through Congress by the Federalist Party in order to tighten control over immigrants and those who criticized the government. Adams played no part in the formation of these acts nor did he take steps to enforce them, but he was held responsible for these unpopular measures in the public mind.

Thomas Jefferson and his friend James Madison opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts. They supported a “states’ rights” interpretation of the Constitution. In 1800, John and Abigail Adams became the first occupants of the Executive Mansion in Washington DC, later to become known as the White House. Meanwhile, their son John Quincy Adams was distinguishing himself abroad as U.S. minister to Prussia.

At the end of 1800, Thomas Jefferson defeated Adams and became the third President of the United States. Adams thought the union the Founding Fathers had worked so hard to establish would quickly be dismantled by those politicians who sought to give more authority to the individual states. The once close friendship between these two patriots decayed to the point that Adams did not attend his successor’s inauguration.

John and Abigail returned to the estate that they had purchased in 1788 in Quincy. John called it “Peace field” to commemorate the Peace he assisted in making in 1783. Four generations lived in the house until 1927 – it became known as the “Old House.”

In 1812 Dr. Benjamin Rush, a mutual friend of Jefferson and Adams, wrote to the former presidents and suggested that they should start a correspondence with each other. In this correspondence these two men, who represented the north and south poles of the American Revolution, put forth their different visions of America’s future. Both men passed away on July 4, 1826, the 50th anniversary of American independence!

Here are a few pictures of “Peace field” also referred to by the children as the “Old House.”  As stated earlier, no pictures are permitted in the mansion.  However, Helen did email the curator and obtained a picture of a sampler that was in the house that was made by Lisa Adams when she was nine years old.  Helen hopes to make the same sampler.

John Quincy Adams (1767 – 1848) served as a diplomat, United States Senator, member of the House of Representatives, and the 6th President of the U.S (1825 – 1829).  John Q. shaped U.S. foreign policy. As a diplomat, Adams played an important role in negotiating key treaties, most notably the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812.  As Secretary of State, he negotiated with Britain over the United States’ northern border with Canada, negotiated with Spain the annexation of Florida, and drafted the Monroe Doctrine. Historians generally agree that he was one of the greatest diplomats and secretaries of state in American history.

After serving as President, he was elected as U.S. Representative from MA in 1830, serving for the last 17 years of his life. John Q. was a leading opponent of slavery. He predicted the Union’s dissolution over slavery, and in such a case, felt the president could abolish slavery by using his war powers.

The “Peace field” estate was donated to the NPS in 1946. The “Old House” has over 78,000 artifacts from the Adams family. The Stone Library, seen in this picture, was built in 1870. It was built to house the family’s books and papers belonging to John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Charles Francis Adams, and Henry and Brooks Adams. Henry Adams wrote his famous nine volume history of the United States there. The John Adams “Presidential Library” is housed within the Boston Public Library. The second pic is a picture of a picture of the inside of the Stone Library.

Formal gardens and Stone Library

After returning to the Visitor Center by shuttle trolley, we walked to the United First Parish Church. It was built in 1828 and partially financed by John Adams. It is the final resting place of TWO U.S. Presidents and their wives.

Adams family pew



Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area includes 34 islands and peninsulas. I would have liked to go to a few of the islands, however, the ferry system was closed for the season. So, I settled for a nice hike at what is called “Worlds End,” a peninsula about eight miles east of Adams Historical Park. Martin’s Lane provides road access to the peninsula.

This area is administered by The Trustees of Reservations and they charge an access fee ($6)

I started at the entrance near Martin’s Cove (more relatives?!) and did several trails on this map covering about 3 miles

It was a cold and dreary day. Nevertheless, hiking increased my metabolism and spirits!

View of Boston from Planters Hill. Note some of the Boston Harbor Islands.

The tide was on its way out. Trails were not marked and at one point I wasn’t sure where I was and had to use the GPS on my smartphone to get oriented.







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