Posts Tagged ‘ American History ’

Chepachet Village – Glocester

 

Chepachet is a quintessential New England village that has transcended from a crossroads of yesteryear to a bustling living history museum. Settled in the early 1700’s, Chepachet Village became the center of the newly founded town of Glocester. Chepachet would become a mill village in the 1800’s using the river as a source of power. Chepachet also became a major crossroad west of Providence as several highways and pikes intersected here. The village also has some interesting history. This is where the Dorr Rebellion originated from and also where a traveling show was attacked resulting in the death of the elephant known as “Betty”. We started this walk from town hall and headed north along the westerly side of Putnam Pike. When we reached the fire station we turned left and followed an old dirt lane. The lane turns to a path and narrows substantially at its end as it overlooks the Chepachet River at Mill Pond and the remains of a dam. Retracing our steps back out to the bustling village when then turned left (northerly), and crossed the bridge over the river. Near the end of the bridge is a plaque commemorating the incident on May 25, 1826 in which Betty the elephant was killed. Just beyond here is the first of several shops, an antique shop called the Old Post Office. After a brief visit, we continued up the street and crossed at the crosswalk. We then proceeded north and turned right onto Old Mill Lane. This quiet road offers a few homes from yesteryear including the 1790 tenement house. The road turns to the right and becomes Elbow Street. This short road was once home to a large cotton and wool mill. Along the edge of the road you can catch a glimpse of some of the remaining foundations. It is all that is left of the mill that burnt down in 1897. The road then turn to the right once again and becomes Tannery Road. There are several very old and well preserved homes along this stretch. The last building on the right is the home of the Glocester Heritage Society. It was built in 1814 as the Job Armstrong Store. In the rear, the URI Master Gardeners maintain the walking path and flower gardens. Turning left onto Putnam Pike, we first stopped by the Brown and Hopkins Country Store. Built in 1799 by Timothy Wilmarth, it has been the country store since 1809. The store has a great variety of “penny” candies and candles to name just a few. Up next was the Town Trader, said to be built in the 1690’s and is the oldest building in the village. The architecture of this building is amazing, let alone the selection of antique gadgets including doorknobs and lanterns. Crossing the river once again, we next came upon the Old Stone Mill. This impressive stone building, built in 1814, was one of the first mills built in Chepachet. The next stop, the reportedly haunted Stage Coach Tavern. A working restaurant (Tavern on Main), this building, built in 1800, once served as a hotel and tavern for passerby’s. It was also William Dorr’s headquarters during the Dorr Rebellion of 1842. Today you can sit with the ghost and have a steak or seafood dinner. From here return to town hall, but first take a peek behind the building. There are two more buildings of interest. The one room Evans School House and the home of the Glocester Light Infantry.

 

Map can be found at: Chepachet Village.

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An Old Home in Chepachet Village.

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Newport Mansions – Newport

  • Newport Mansions Walk
  • Ochre Point Avenue, Newport, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°28’9.80″N, 71°17’58.48″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 16, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.9 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

The city by the sea has a long history, from the American Revolution to the America’s Cup. Newport’s most famous attractions though are the mansions built by some of America’s wealthiest people. This walk visits most of the mansions and includes a section of the famed Cliff Walk. The walk itself takes about two and a half hours at a very leisurely pace (not including visits to the mansions). Starting from the parking lot for The Breakers at the corner of Ochre Point Avenue and Victoria Avenue, head south on Ochre Point Avenue and the left onto Ruggles Avenue toward the sea. Along the way you will be following the tall wrought iron fence with limestone pillars that borders of one of the most famed mansions. When you reach the end of the road turn left onto the Cliff Walk. To your right is the ocean and on your left is the large lawn and back of The Breakers. This mansion, built in 1895, was owned by Cornelius Vanderbilt II, and today is the most visited site in Rhode Island. Continuing along the Cliff Walk you soon come upon Salve Regina University. Here is another large mansion, being Ochre Court. This is the second largest mansion in Newport (after the Breakers) and was built in 1892. Continuing to Narragansett Avenue you will come to the famed Forty Steps. Here you get a unique opportunity to make your way below the Cliff Walk to the rocky shoreline below. The steps and rocks tend to be wet so be sure to exercise extreme caution here. After climbing up the steps you will then leave the Cliff Walk and head west on Narragansett Avenue to the famed Bellevue Avenue. There are several private residences along this stretch that are quite impressive. Along the way and on the right is Chepstow. This mansion was built in 1860 and set back off of Narragansett Avenue. The mansion is actually quite difficult to see from the road as its gardens and trees hide it from view. In mid July the hydrangeas are quite impressive. Ahead on the left at the intersection of Bellevue Avenue is a large stone house. This is the Osgood-Pell House, built in 1887, and is home to the Preservation Society of Newport County. Continuing, turn right onto Bellevue Avenue, you will next pass the White Lodge Condominiums on the right before coming to The Elms on the left. This mansion, built in 1901, is quite close to the street and has large wrought iron gates. Behind the mansion is a large lawn and gardens. There are a couple more smaller mansions to the north along Bellevue Avenue, most notably Kingscote and the Isaac Bell House. For this walk, however, reverse your direction and start heading south on Bellevue Avenue passing Narragansett Avenue. In a few blocks you will come to the Chateau-sur-Mer. This mansion, built in 1852 of Fall River granite, ushered in Newport’s gilded age. Continuing along Bellevue Avenue you will pass Vernon Court, the Illustration Museum and its clock before coming to Rosecliff. This mansion, built in 1902, is set back off the road and has a large sprawling lawn in front of it. In the right light you can see through the large windows of the mansion and see the ocean behind it. The ballroom at Rosecliff has been featured in several films including The Great Gatsby, True Lies, and Amistad. Continuing south you will pass the (formally Astors) Beechwood Mansion, currently being renovated, before coming to the Marble House. Built in 1892, and resembling the White House in Washington D.C., this was another of the Vanderbilt mansions. Behind the mansion (and viewed best from the Cliff Walk) is the famed Chinese Tea House. From the Marble House turn around and follow Bellevue Avenue to the north retracing your steps for a few blocks. You will be looking for a one way sign at Marine Avenue. There is no actual street sign for this street so be sure not to miss it. The street looks like a driveway. Turn here and follow the street to the east as it narrows to almost just a cart path. Ahead and beyond the gate is the Cliff Walk once again. Take a look to your right and notice the Tea House in the distance. For this walk turn left and follow the Cliff Walk over the “sea wall” and then around the bend at Anglesea. A ramp then brings you up to the end of Ruggles Avenue. Turn left, then right onto Ochre Point Avenue to the parking lot for the Breakers. This walk could take almost literally all day if you choose to actually tour the mansions.

 

Trail map can be found at: Newport Mansions.

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The Breakers From The Cliff Walk

Jenks Park – Central Falls

 

The largest park in the city of Central Falls offers a little less than a half mile of walking paths and a playground. The park adjacent to City Hall also has significant history and a tower that offers views of the surrounding area. The property is where Native Americans, up upon Dexter’s Ledge, first spotted a company of colonist soldiers during the King Phillips War in 1676. An ensuing battle took place nearby on the banks of the Blackstone River. During the battle a group of soldiers were taken prisoner and killed at Nine Men’s Misery in nearby Cumberland. The land that the park currently sits on was donated in 1890 and in 1904 Cogswell Tower was built upon Dexter’s Ledge. The tower is 70 feet tall and is the highest point in Central Falls. From the tower you see west to the Lincoln Highlands and south to Downtown Providence. Inside the tower is a winding wooden stairway that brings you to a platform just under the clock. Below the tower is one of Rhode Islands best kept secrets. In a vaulted chamber there is a grotto that sits under the tower. The walls are the sides of Dexter’s Ledge and the brick ceiling serves as the base of the tower. Tours are offered occasionally by the City of Central Falls.

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Cogswell Tower at Jenks Park

Seekonk River – Providence

  • Seekonk River – Blackstone Valley Bike Path
  • Pitman Street, Providence, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°49’36.39″N, 71°23’0.49″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 13, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.2 miles
  • Easy.

 

The newest section of the Blackstone River Bike Path is just about ready to be opened. With that being said, I ventured out to take a sneak peak at it. The short section of bike path, six tenths of a mile one way, runs from Pitman Street opposite Witherby Park southerly to Gano Street by the end of the exit ramp from Interstate 195. This section of the bike path takes bicyclists off of the very busy Gano and Pitman Streets and puts them along the shore of the Seekonk River. Starting adjacent to the Salvation Army property the bike path winds very gently up and over a couple small hills passing behind the Wingate Residences and the Eastside Marketplace at Cold Spring Point. Soon you will get your first glimpse of the 1908 Crook Point Bascule Bridge. This structure was in operation and used by trains until the mid 1970’s. The bridge was then put into its famous upright position and abandoned. Some consider it an eyesore, others think of it as historic. Nonetheless, it is one of Providences most recognizable sights. The bike path then passes along Gano Park and its ball fields. There is an informational board along this stretch that explains the history of the park and nearby area. After being forced from his original settlement across the river, this is (actually nearby at Slate Rock) is where Roger Williams, the founder of Providence and Rhode Island, first step foot onto the shore in 1636. You can actually see the monument from this point by looking over the soccer field towards Gano Street. Looking out towards the river you can see the Washington Bridge that carries Interstate 195 over the Seekonk River. Across the river is the East Providence waterfront. You will also see two small islands, aptly named Twin Islands. Locals call them Cupcake Island and Pancake Island which they resemble respectively. The river is usually busy with canoes, kayaks, boats, and the Brown University crew teams. The bike path then passes the Gano Street boat ramp before turning to the right and ending at Gano Street. From here you can return back to Pitman Street for the 1.2 mile walk or you can follow the sharrows to India Point Park. With the grand opening soon, this bike path serves as a vital link to connect the waterfront of Providence from Blackstone Park to India Point and ultimately into downtown at Waterplace Park.

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Crook Point Bascule Bridge from the Bike Path.

Millville Lock/Triad Bridge – Millville

 

This walk follows the old railroad bed of the Boston and Hartford Railroad easterly to the Blackstone River from the parking area on the corner of Central and Hope Streets. Just recently this stretch has been paved and is now part of the newly opened Blackstone Greenway Bike Path. The old rail bed is flanked by trees and shrubs as it passes a residential neighborhood. At the sitting bench just beyond the mid way point of this walk is a set of wooden stairs that leads to the trail that winds down to the former Blackstone Canal along the river. Just to the left is a small footbridge that crosses Angelique Brook to the lock. The large stones that make the lock were put in place in the late 1820’s when the Blackstone Canal was being built. The lock served as a point where water levels could be controlled for the passage of barges along the canal. The Millville Lock is the most preserved along the stretch of the Blackstone River. Continuing back to the bike path and turning left you will soon come to a bridge that crosses the Blackstone River. After crossing the bridge turn around and take a good look around. To the left and slightly above is a towering concrete support of a bridge that was never built. That support, along with one behind your right shoulder and below in the river to your left were built to carry the Grand Trunk Rail over the Blackstone River. The president of that company died on the RMS Titanic in April of 1912. Though construction continued for several more years, plans for the railroad were scraped and the bridge was never built. Ahead, the bridge you just crossed, was the rail bridge that served as Boston and Hartford Railroads Southern New England Trunkline. Today it is used partly as the Blackstone River Greenway and also as a trail that runs from the state line at Thompson, Connecticut and runs easterly to Franklin. And finally, below and to the right you will see the Providence and Worcester Railroad bridge that crosses the river. That bridge is still in active use by trains. At one time in the early 20th century it was intended that three railroad bridges would cross the Blackstone River at the same spot, hence earning its name, Triad Bridge. At this point you are approximately a mile from the parking lot. For this walk return along the bike path back to your car, or you can add several more miles of walking by continuing east. The bike path continues about another mile and a half to its easterly terminus in Blackstone.

 

Trail map can be found at: Millville Lock

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Panoramic of the Triad Bridge

King Phillips Chair – Bristol

  • King Phillips Chair/Miery Swamp
  • Bristol, RI
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: April 29, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: Less than 1 mile on two separate walks.
  • Fairly easy.

 

A notable site more so for its history than its hiking, King Phillips Chair is well worth the visit if you are in the area. There are some restrictions though as the “chair” and nearby spring in Miery Swamp are not publicly open unless you receive permission. Both the “chair” and the spring are on property owned by Brown University on Mount Hope. This area in the 1600’s was part of the Wampanoag/Pokanoket tribes lands known as Sowams. The “chair”, at the base of the largest outcrop of white granite in Rhode Island served as the seat of Metacom (known by the English colonists as King Phillip). It is said that Metacom held meetings here and the top of the rock served as a lookout. From 1675 to 1678 a war between the Native Americans and English colonists was fought in this area. The King Phillips War was by far the bloodiest war in American History (per population) as nearly 10 percent of the population were killed on both sides. Some of the fiercest fighting occurred in the nearby towns. King Phillip met his end in Miery Swamp a mere half mile southwest of King Phillips Chair on August 12, 1676. A monument, placed by the Rhode Island Historical Society in 1877, now stands by the spring on the site of his death. Nearby Mount Hope Farm abuts the woods and to gain access to King Phillips Chair and Miery Swamp you must contact the office at 401-254-1745 for permits and parking passes. Groups of more than 10 will require insurance (per Brown University) to visit the site.

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The Base of the Large Outcrop Served as King Phillips Chair

Little Neck – East Providence

  • Little Neck Cemetery
  • Cozzens Avenue, East Providence, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°46’3.58″N, 71°21’15.80″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 1, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.5 miles
  • Easy.

 

Sitting on a peninsula where the Ox Brook and the Mosskettuash Brook converge to form Bullocks Cove lies one of the oldest cemeteries in the United States. The narrow roads that wind through this historic cemetery offer about a half mile of walking. The cemetery, being established in 1655, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The oldest grave here is from 1662, that being the grave of John Brown, Jr. who was a Commissioner to the United Colonies. At the highest point of the peninsula is the oldest part of the cemetery. Some other notable graves here are that of Thomas Willett who was the first mayor of New York City and Elizabeth Tilley Howland who in 1620 came to the New World on the Mayflower. There are also 106 veterans buried here including the Civil War Medal of Honor recipient George Reed.

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The Graves of Elizabeth Howland and Thomas Willett