Posts Tagged ‘ Rhode Island 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.

TWRI-Chepachet

An Old Home in Chepachet Village.

Advertisements

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.

TWRI-NMW02

The Breakers From The Cliff Walk

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.

TWRI-KPC1

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.

twri-lneck

The Graves of Elizabeth Howland and Thomas Willett

Casey Farm – North Kingstown

  • Casey Farm
  • Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°30’43.45″N, 71°25’23.07″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 24, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

Most locals know Casey Farm for its farmer markets (one of the best in the state). Others know the farm for being a historical site. What a lot of people are not aware of is that Casey Farm offers miles of trails. For this hike, I joined a small group attending a Rhode Island Land Trust Days event. The hike was led by the very knowledgeable Dr. Bob Kenney of the University of Rhode Island. Mr. Kenney, (a walking encyclopedia of birds, mushrooms, and plants) volunteers quite often for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Audubon Society. In fact this is not the first of his hikes I have been on. In 1659, several colonists bought the land on Boston Neck for a mere 18 cents per acre from the Narragansetts. One of these families were the Richardsons. By 1702 half of that property belonged to the family that founded Casey Farm. The farm stretched from Narragansett Bay to the Narrow River as it still does today. The property, a working farm, is protected and owned by Historic New England. Atop the hill along Boston Neck Road is where the farm is located. It consists of several fields and structures including a large barn as well as old New England style stone walls. The first part of the hike took us into the eastern part of the property down to Casey Point. The old cart path passes through areas of wildflowers including wild snapdragon, black swallowwort milkweed, and heart leaved aster. There is also an abundance of ferns, mushrooms, and an invasive shrub known as devils walking stick. This area is also a haven for birds as we saw and heard catbirds, woodpeckers, and red tailed hawks. When we reached the point we had sweeping views of the west passage of Narragansett Bay. Across the bay is Jamestown and the large open field is part of Watson Farm (another Historic New England property). Beyond Jamestown you will see the Newport Bridge. To the north is the Jamestown Bridge and Plum Point Lighthouse. To the south you can see Beavertail Light and Dutch Island Light. After spending a little time on the point we retraced our steps back to the farm. From here we then followed another stone walled flanked cart path toward the heavily wooded western end of the property. We briefly entered the neighboring King Preserve, the newest Nature Conservancy property in Rhode Island. This preserve is a work in progress still. Most of the major trails are complete and open, however, there are a section of trails yet to be built. The trails are soft and there are boardwalks that cross wet areas and streams. There is plenty of ferns in this area among the birch trees and sassafras. We nearly reached the Narrow River at the bottom of the hill before making our way back uphill along old cart paths and dirt roads winding through the Casey Farm property. This stretch of the hike also offer sounds and sights of nuthatches, tufted titmouses, and eastern towhees. We then returned to the farm to conclude the hike. Casey Farm is open from June 1st to October 15th on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. There are also tours of the farm available. For more information please call 401-295-1030.

A note from the folks at Casey Farm:  Casey Farm is open to the public during daylight hours for hiking trails at Casey Point or those adjacent to King Preserve. Please note dogs must be on leashes, clean up of course, and respect the young people and farm animals by keeping dogs away from the farmyard and fields. Access Casey’s woodland trails via the King Preserve. Camp Grosvenor is not open to the public for hiking. Access Casey Point on Narragansett Bay via the gate on Boston Neck Road. We are working on getting better signage. Feel free to contact me with any questions: Jane Hennedy, site manager, 401-295-1030 ext. 5, jhennedy@historicnewengland.org.

twri-casey04

Casey Point with The Newport Bridge in the distance.

twri-casey06

Flanked by Wildflowers

Hanton City – Smithfield

  • Hanton City
  • Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: September 17, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.3 miles
  • Fairly easy, slight elevation.

 

Yesteryear there existed a cluster of buildings in the woods of what is now Smithfield. This town was in an extremely remote area miles from any other towns or villages. The town was eventually abandoned and all that remains are several cellar holes, wells, and stone walls. It is known as Hanton City and there are several theories of why the town existed in the first place. Some believe that maybe the occupants were loyalists to the British throne during the American Revolution, others believe that maybe these occupants were diseased and forced to live away from the general public. Regardless, they had a small but fully functioning village in the remote woods of Northern Rhode Island. The properties in the area are owned by several different groups. Some of it is privately owned, some owned by nearby Fidelity. The rest is owned by the Audubon Society and the Smithfield Land Trust. The area is not open to the public and access is available occasionally when the Smithfield Land Trust leads guided group tours of the property.

twri-hanton04

Cellar Hole With Shelves

 

East Bay Bike Path South – Barrington/Warren/Bristol

  • East Bay Bike Path South
  • Metropolitan Park Drive, Barrington, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°45’12.02″N, 71°20’54.74″W
  • Last Time Hiked: August 23, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 8.4 miles
  • Easy to moderate due to distance.

After walking the northern end of the East Bay Bike Path, I decided to finish what I started. The southern end of the oldest bike path in the state winds along the former Providence, Warren, and Bristol Railroad through Barrington, Warren, and Bristol. Along the way there are several points of interest as the paved path passes through the East Bay neighborhoods. Starting at Haines Park, one of the oldest State Parks, I started making my way south. Almost immediately I could hear the sounds of the dog park just beyond the trails and woods to the left. Soon the bike path crosses the lower end of the Annawomscutt Brook just before it dumps into Allins Cove. Immediately after that the bike path makes its first of several road crossings in Barrington at Bay Spring Avenue. To the right is a large brick building that was once a mill. It is now a condominium building. This section of Barrington was its industrial center will mills producing leather and lace products. This building is the only surviving building of that era. Also at this road crossing is a memorial to residents of West Barrington that have lost their lives in wars. Next the bike path crosses Alfred Drowne Road in the neighborhood that was once known as Drownville where one of several railroad depots were located in Barrington. The neighborhood was known for its oyster operations and the land was mostly owned by the Drowne family and later the Blount family known locally for their current clam shacks and seafood products. After crossing Washington Road the bike path enters a half mile stretch of trees and residential neighborhoods before coming to Little Echo Pond. Here, and the surrounding ponds, there was once an icing operation, but the icehouse that sat on the opposite side of the pond is long gone. On each side of the bike path there are small Barrington Land Conservation Trust properties with short trail systems. Both Lombardi Park and Andreozzi Nature Preserve are marked with signs at their trailheads. Just before South Lake Drive on the right was the location of the Nayatt Depot, the next railroad stop in Barrington. After crossing South Lake Drive you will notice the greens of the Rhode Island Country Club to the right. This golf course is one of the most prominent ones in the state hosting the CVS Charity Classic each year. The next road crossing is Middle Highway, after crossing it the bike path passes several trails on the right. These trails are part of Veterans Park which surrounds Brickyard Pond. Today the pond is used for mostly fishing. In years past, there were mills in the area that made bricks. Clay pits in the area supplied the material to make the bricks. Workers would dig these massive pits and in time the pits would fill with water. After the operations ceased in the area and the pumps shut down, the pits filled with water. Hence, the creation of Brickyard Pond. Many buildings on the East Side of Providence were built with the bricks made in Barrington. The bike path also passes the Bayside YMCA before approaching County Road. Just before the main road there is a plaza on the right that offers several shops for a break. There was also a train depot here. On the left is the Daily Scoop, a local ice cream shop. After crossing Route 114, the bike path then passes through a tunnel of trees, then passes Police Cove Park, before emerging out to the Barrington River. Here is the first of two bridges in Eastern Barrington that connect the southern end of New Meadow Neck to Barrington and Warren respectively. The first bridge, crossing the Barrington River offers view of the river northerly toward Hundred Acre Cove. The view to the south is that of is similar of that of the second bridge that crosses the Palmer River. They both look toward the bridges that carry Route 114 over the water crossings and the marinas beyond them. The two rivers come together just about a half mile south to form the Warren River. After crossing the second bridge you are in Warren. You will notice the large brick building to the south that once was the home to American Tourister, a maker of travel luggage. To the north is Grinnel Point with its windswept grass. The bike path then starts to turn to the south and into the heart of Warren. Houses and side streets become very frequent in this stretch. To the left you first pass Belcher Cove and its wooded shoreline. At the Brown Street crossing and to the left you will notice the remains of an old brick wall by the fenced in area owned by National Grid. This wall was once part of the old power station that was used by the railroad. Soon you will start to see the steeples of the nearby churches through the cluster of homes. The bike path then crosses Market Street and Child Street, passing a Dels Lemonade, before coming to a large parking area behind Town Hall, Fire Station, and Police Station. It is in this area that a spur line to Fall River split from the main track and headed east. The East Bay Bike Path follows the former line to Bristol from here. (The Warren Bike Path to the east follows a section of the spur trail). After passing a well-placed bicycle shop and Franklin Street the bike path comes out to Main Street. There is a traffic light with a crosswalk here. It is a very busy intersection, do not attempt to cross without using the crosswalk and light. After crossing the street the bike path continues south and soon passes Burrs Hill Park. The park offers basketball courts, tennis courts, and a ball field. There are also free concerts here. Through the park you can see the water and Warren Town Beach. The bike path continues through residential neighborhoods after passing under Bridge Street through a tunnel that replaced a former railroad bridge. The bike path is also flanked by post and rail fence for quite a while. Soon the bike path passes an area known as Jacobs Point to the right. The large salt marsh, abundant with cattails and wildflowers, offers a single trail to the beach. Just after Jacob’s Point the bike path enters Bristol and soon comes to the McIntosh Wildlife Refuge. This Audubon property spans from Route 114 to the Warren River on both sides of the bike path. To the left is access to the trails through the fields by the Educational Center. To the right is the long boardwalk that reaches out to the river. The bike path then continues through more residential areas with several road crossings before coming to Colt State Park. Along this stretch you can catch glimpses of Narragansett Bay including the Conimicut Lighthouse. After crossing the entrance road to Colt State Park the bike path passes Mill Pond to the right where you are likely to catch glimpses of cormorants and egrets. After passing Poppasquash Road the bike path follows the upper reaches of Bristol Harbor before ending at Independence Park and the edge of Downtown Bristol. Here along the Bristol waterfront you will see several boats docked and the old brick buildings in the distance. If you still have a little walk left in you, the waterfront and downtown offers a great walk on its own

Trail maps can be found at: East Bay Bike Path South

TWRI-EBBPS-19

The Bike Path By Bristol Harbor