As in any Compass & Canvas endeavor, we sought the primitive, the historical and the abandoned to raise awareness for preservation, protection or potential renewal.
The trip started with a stop in Boston. Its rich colonial history is well preserved and well known, needing little introduction. One could easily spend a weekend in Boston walking the Freedom Trail, but we found ourselves drawn to the Boston Harbor Islands. The National Recreation Area surprises in its feeling of remoteness considering its proximity to Boston.
We envisioned overcrowded islands serving as an extension of the Boston Waterfront, Georges Island serves this purpose, but from there a free ferry transfer can take you to more remote islands. We caught a ferry from Long Wharf North along the Boston Waterfront, it is only $17.00 dollars to board a ferry or $12.00 if you have a student ID and then transfers are free.
Besides providing transfers to the other islands, the Civil War era Fort Warren stands on Georges Island and it has been maintained to the point that the park service allows visitors to basically have free-range in exploring.
We chose to catch a transfer to Lovells Island, one of the outermost islands. With limited ferries, Lovells provides a secluded opportunity for exploration. The island also houses a few man-made structures used by the Army up until World War II.
Just make sure you don’t miss the last ferry home!
When visiting preserved history in Boston one can’t forget to catch a baseball game. It provides a look into the sports fan experience of the early 20th century, particularly the narrow halls that seem to hold in the heat and steam from the concession stands and the thousands of people moving through them.
Much different from the open concourses that wrap around modern stadiums.
After leaving Boston we continued north to Maine. Maine’s coastline is a tribute to preserved natural beauty enhanced by picturesque structures whether they be forts, light houses or coastal towns. Acadia National Park was our final destination with a few stops along the way. The Portland Head Light in Fort Williams Park and the coastal town of Wiscasset, ME, with its famous Lobstah Rolls at Red’s Eats, are two such examples.
Acadia is a compilation of donated land that became the first National Park on the east-coast. If you want to move freely throughout the Park make sure you arrive early. Like way before sunrise early! You should also bring a map because network coverage is very spotty. The park also surrounds plenty of harbor towns if you need a break from exploring.
After a few days in the park we decided to drive away from the coast and farther north into the Maine wilderness. In most cases such a massive swathe of undeveloped land would be very difficult and time consuming to access, but a well-maintained private logging road that runs from Millinocket, Maine to Quebec known as the “Golden Road” provides a path into this remote region.
On our way home from Maine we decided to make a pit-stop in Salem, Massachusetts as it offers the opportunity to walk through some of the oldest houses in America with the added allure of the evils of the Salem Witch Trials.
Salem is a strange struggle between wanting to down-play the evil that happened there, and also relying on it to generate tourist revenue. This divide can be very clearly seen by the two different emphasizes in two of the city’s oldest original houses. The House of the Seven Gables provides a look into the more affluent lifestyle of those who lived between 200-300 years ago; and the Witch House provides a look into the home of Judge Jonathan Corwin, one of the men who presided over the trials.
Plus earlier this year a study used primary documents from the time of the Salem Witch Trials to pin-point the location of the hangings. They estimate the location to be on an overgrown hill behind a Walgreens, so naturally we had to investigate.
Tune in for the next leg of our epic Eastern tour of America - West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee!