Category Archives: Massachusetts

Springfield Armory National Historic Site

Overview

The arsenal at Springfield, Massachusetts began manufacturing guns during the American Revolution and became the first National Armory in 1794.  For nearly 200 years it served its purpose before being donated by the military for the creation of Springfield Technical Community College in 1967.  The National Park Service (NPS) maintains a museum and former officer’s quarters on 55 acres at the back of the gated campus.

Highlights

Museum, film, Organ of Muskets

Must-Do Activity

Start your visit with the 14-minute film, then peruse the two halves of the museum, one side dedicated to weaponry and the other to industry.  Watch the scale model of the Blanchard Eccentric Lathe as it demonstrates the shaping of wood to match a metal template.  This technology was first introduced here and is commonly used today to create keys, furniture, and baseball bats. 

Best Trail

There are no trails, but you can walk the sidewalks around the brick buildings that once housed the armory and are now the campus of Springfield Technical Community College.

Instagram-worthy Photo

The “Organ of Muskets” inspired the 1845 anti-war poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a Harvard professor with his own NPS site. 

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/spar/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None

Road Conditions

Follow street signs from Interstate 91 exits to the main gate for Springfield Technical Community College then back to the free parking lot by the NPS museum.

Camping

Granville State Forest is located 20 miles west of Springfield, Massachusetts on Highway 57.

Related Sites

Longfellow House – Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site (Massachusetts)

Minute Man National Historical Park (Massachusetts)

Coltsville National Historical Park (Connecticut, authorized in 2014 but remains unfunded)

Explore More – Who was the Springfield Armory employee who invented the M 1 rifle used throughout World War II?

Minute Man National Historical Park

Overview

The events that occurred at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts on April 19, 1775 were immortalized by Ralph Waldo Emerson as “the shot heard round the world.”  First of all, a “Minute Man” was a colonial militiaman who was always ready to fight at a minute’s notice.  Secondly, when the colonial militia fired upon British troops at North Bridge, it was considered an act of treason against the Crown and truly started the Revolutionary War at a time when the majority of colonists did not want independence. 

Highlights

Films, Hartwell Tavern, North Bridge, the Wayside, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Must-Do Activity

If your memory on what exactly happened here is a bit foggy, start with the multimedia presentation at either of two National Park Service (NPS) visitor centers, located in the suburbs west of Boston.  At Lexington, you will learn the true story of how Paul Revere’s ride ended early when he was captured by British soldiers and that he did not mention redcoats, instead yelling “the Regulars are coming out!”  At Concord, you will learn about “the shot heard round the world.” 

Best Trail

Battle Road Trail stretches 5 miles between Fiske Hill in Lexington to Meriam’s Corner in Concord, and is open to bicycles.  It passes many historic sites, including Hartwell Tavern.

Instagram-worthy Photo

We recommend a walk up Author’s Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.  The graves of famous local writers, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, are located here.

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

Hours for the many historic buildings vary and most are not open every day of the week.

https://www.nps.gov/mima/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None, except at some historic buildings (like the Wayside) which require guided tours.

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Harold Parker State Forest (28 miles northeast) has campsites with running water. There is no camping at Walden Pond State Reservation.

Explore More – Which famous authors once resided at the Wayside in Concord, Massachusetts?

Lowell National Historical Park 

Overview

Built in the 1820s, Lowell, Massachusetts took the idea of a mill town and scaled it up to a factory city.  Utilizing the power of the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, its textile mills grew until its population reached 33,000 by 1850.  The workers were primarily immigrants and predominantly women, many of whom were single and lived in boarding houses like the one you can tour today in Lowell National Historical Park.

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Highlights

Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit, Boot Cotton Mills Museum, canal boat tours, Lower Locks, Jack Kerouac Commemorative Park

Must-Do Activity

It is worth the entry fee to go inside Boott Cotton Mills Museum to hear, feel, and see early-1900s machines still running and learn more about the manufacturing process, living conditions, and labor unrest.

Best Trail

Not a traditional trail, but it is a short walk along the historic canals from the NPS Visitor Center to Boott Cotton Mills Museum, the Lower Locks, and the Commemorative Park to author Jack Kerouac.

Instagram-worthy Photo

Hand dug canals from the Concord and Merrimack Rivers powered the Lower Locks in downtown Lowell.

A dam on the canal system in Lowell

Peak Season

Summer

Hours

https://www.nps.gov/lowe/planyourvisit/hours.htm

Fees

None for most sites and NPS Visitor Center (free parking there), but Boott Cotton Mills Museum charges $6 per adult for admission (discount with America the Beautiful pass).

Road Conditions

All roads paved

Camping

Harold Parker State Forest has a campground open in summer 13 miles east of Lowell.

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A mill at Lowell

Mill reflections

Tiff in the room with all the looms - she was loving it
Feel the power of these loud machines in action inside Boott Cotton Mills Museum.

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The detail on the model was quite extraordinary

Kerowac's typewriter
There are a few artifacts from the life of hometown hero Jack Kerouac whose books inspired the Beat Generation.

Explore More – How did the “kiss of death” slowly kill many textile workers?

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WONDON WAS HERE

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