Last Leg of the Henry Knox Trail

Hi. I hope everyone had a fun Thanksgiving. Lucky me, I got to be with all three of my grandsons and their families. Meanwhile, I was able to finish this video compilation of my trip in September 2018 through southern Massachusetts following the Henry Knox Trail (West Springfield to Cambridge). I also visited some amazing libraries. I sorta screwed up on my video labeling. This is Part 2 of following the trail but actually, Part 4 of my series on being in New England doing Henry Knox related things.

As I noted in the comments section on YouTube:

For a copy of my sing-along children’s history book about the trail, Henry’s Big Kaboom, go to the Fort Ticonderoga Museum Store at http://www.fortticonderoga.org and click the ‘shop’ tab. You can also order it on Amazon. You can view the animated video (same title – Henry’s Big Kaboom) on YouTube.

To view my video about following the first part of the Henry Knox Trail go to https://youtu.be/aD9fu4BeTzI.

For a written guide (pdf) to following the Henry Knox Trail, check out the Hudson River Valley Foundation website at http://www.hudsonrivervalley.org/themes/knoxtrail.html. They updated the guide a year ago.

That’s it for now. Keep on Rambling.

Brookfield to Shrewsbury

Today we have a tie for The Charming Old Library Award. Check out Brookfield’s Merrick Library and its neighbor, Spencer’s Richard Sugden Library, both built in the late 1800s when it was cool to be a philanthropist. The librarians were excited to get a copy of Henry and well aware of the history.

Merrick Library in Brookfield.

Merrick Library from upstairs looking down.

Merrick Library at the south end of Brookfield Common.

Richard Sugden Library in Spencer.

Richard Sugden Library interior.

Brenda Mettterville, who has been the librarian at Merrick for over 20 yrs, showed me some old photos of the celebration in 1927 in Brookfield for the placement of the Henry Knox Trail monuments as part of the 150th anniversary of the Revolution. Monument No. 13 for the trail is at the other end of Brookfield’s Common. It overlooks Route 9, once the Boston Post Road, that connects all the towns I visited today.

In fact, if you are only looking for monuments (and not libraries, too), all you need to do is stay on that road. Monument No.14 is right around the corner from Spencer’s Richard Sugden Library. It also looks out over Route 9, like a little soldier.

The next town is Leicester. Monument No.15 is right out in front of the Leicester Public Library. The library is closed for construction so I will send them their book when I get home. Meanwhile, the monument is neglected and surrounded by weeds.

Next was Worcester, a big city. By noon, it was 94 degrees out. It was hard to find cool places to park the van so I could leave Annie in it long enough to run into the libraries and take photos of stones. Monument No. 16 is part of the front walkway of the courthouse and gets the Hardest To Find Award for today. Main Street splits in that area with a tunnel in between the split. One-way streets make the area even harder to navigate.

The modern Worcester Public Library is relatively easy to find. It is gigantic and so is the parking lot. I worried about how hot the van would get by the time I walked the length of the lot to the library, paid for parking, and found Cynthia Bermudez, the Coordinator of Youth Services, whom I’d been communicating with. When I learned she was busy, I let the assistant librarian have the book, told her that the information and links to the videos were on the HenrysBigKaboom.com website and fled to get back to Annie.

From there (2:30pm) I drove to Whole Foods Market in Shrewsbury to buy a healthy salad for lunch. Shrewsbury is the next town over from Worcester and home of Monument No.17, which stands across the street from the Shrewsbury Public Library. I pulled down all the shades in the van and turned the fan on high. Then I dashed to the monument, took my photos, dashed across to the library, easily found the Youth Services Director, Sonia, nearly threw the book at her and made it back to the van before it got too hot. Actually, I had a nice, though quick, chat with Sonia.

Pooped and sweaty, I headed to the nearest camping place, Sutton Falls, about a 30-minute drive. The trip through the countryside was calming after my tangle with the city of Worcester. As you can see from the pix, the campground is nice and friendly. Annie and I are still trying to chill.

Tomorrow, starting at 9:30am, I bring out the ukulele for the children of Northborough. Tomorrow is borough day. I also visit Marlborough, and Southborough as well as Framingham and Wayland. Wayland has two monuments.

As I’ve mentioned, I visited the monuments in New York, and the first 7 monuments in Massachusetts last June. Here is the map for this trip.

Massachusett Monuments for the Henry Knox Trail from West Springfield to Cambridge.

Massachusett Monuments for the Henry Knox Trail from West Springfield to Cambridge.

Made It to Vermont

15 days from departing Pasadena, California, I drove into gorgeous, Vermont, where my niece is getting married on Sunday. It’s Labor Day weekend. She and her betrothed are here at her parents from their own home in Thailand. The family is gathering from all over.

USA Swing Statistics So Far

I traveled through 16 states to get here.

I toured 8 National Parks, 4 National Historic Parks, 4 National Monuments (5, if you count Scott’s Bluff, which I saw from a distance), 1 National River and Recreation Area, 1 National Historic Site, 1 National Heritage Corridor, and crossed over 1 National Historic Trail. My National Parks Passport has all sorts of cancellation stamps in it.

I spent 4 nights in RV parks, 5 nights in state parks, 1 free night in a rest area, 1 free night boondocking on public land, and 3 nights parked in front of relative’s homes.

I stopped for gas 29 times. The most I spent for gas was $3.49/gal in Bryce Canyon NP, and the least was $2.69/gal in Minnesota.

My favorite campground was Fort Robinson in Nebraska, and my favorite food was the beef with barley soup I bought take-out from their restaurant.

Best of all, I’ve made 4 new fellow-RVer friends!

Since my last post, and before leaving Buffalo, I stopped briefly in the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site. It was the home of Ansley and Mary (Grace) Wilcox on September 14, 1901, where Teddy Roosevelt was staying when he learned that President William McKinley had died. McKinley had been shot by an assassin in Buffalo eight days earlier on September 6. Teddy was sworn in as the new president in the library of the house (now part of HIS National Parks) four hours after McKinley’s death.

Annie was waiting in the car, so I took a quick look around, collected the brochure, and stamped my passport.

About an hour and a half hour northeast, I reached the Women’s Rights National Historic Park in Seneca Falls, which is also along the route of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

As it states on the placard, this is the only National Park dedicated to a movement. I was allowed to take Annie with me on the walk around Elizabeth Candy Stanton’s home.

We peeked in the windows.

And we walked to the Seneca River below, which was, in Stanton’s day, part of the canal system.

The Visitor’s Center is across the river in the old industrial town of Senaca Falls, named after the Senaca Indians who once lived there. But, as you can see from my dashboard , it was 98 degrees out. (You can also see that Ramsey passed his 20,000 mile mark.)

Dogs are not allowed in the National Parks Visitor Centers, so with the car still running and air conditioner blasting, I dashed into the center to stamp my passport, collect the National Park brochure, and snap this photo of a tour going on that I had to miss. You can barely see the ranger guide behind the suffragettes.

I drove through the next town over from Senaca Falls, Waterloo, to see (through the van window) the homes of Mary Ann M’Clintock and Jane Hunt. Annie wasn’t welcome in the Waterloo Memorial Day Museum either, so we skipped that in favor of a chocolate mint ice cream cone.

Then traveling I-90, which follows the Erie Canal as it heads to Albany from Buffalo, we headed to Fort Stanwix National Monument. The fort used to guard the stretch of land between Lake Ontario and the Hudson River, waterways important from the earliest fur trading days, and even before by the American Indians. Traders used to carry their canoes and other boats from the lake to the river, hence the land was considered a portage. Eventually the city of Rome, New York, grew around and over the fort. Like its namesake, all roads led to Rome, and it was the center of the Empire (State).

110 miles due east, I arrived at Saratoga National Historic Park on the corridor of the Hudson River. I had driven past it last June when I followed the Henry Knox Trail. Henry’s Train of Artillery passed by Bevis Heights, where the park is, in December 1776. The Battle of Saratoga, during which Benedict Arnold took a lead role, occurred in September 1777. The park consists of the visitor center and the battlefields. The road through the latter was closed for repair. Missed that. But it was cool enough to leave Annie in the van so I could watch the movie about the battles and see the exhibits in the visitor center.

A five-year-old boy overheard me ask one of the rangers if many visitors to the park were also following the Henry Knox Trail. The boy ran to his parents who then informed me that the lad was a huge fan of Henry Knox. The family was indeed in the middle of following the Henry Knox Trail (even using the same guide I used in June from the Hudson Valley Foundation), had visited the Henry Knox Museum in Thomaston Maine, and bought my book. The young boy has been driving his parents crazy with the Kaboom chorus just as my four-year-old grandson has been driving his parents crazy.

How fun to have a fan!

I gave a copy of Henry’s Big Kaboom to Saratoga NHP. Who knows? Maybe they will add it to their bookstore.

Here is the view of the battlefield. Beyond that is the Hudson River, and beyond that are the Green Mountains.

I made it to my brother’s in Vermont in time to interrupt dinner with the in-laws-to-be. I parked Ramsey across the street on the lawn of an abandoned house, made myself a bean and cheese quesadilla, and opened my last Corona. What a great trip it has been had so far.

The Henry Knox Trail 3-Part Video Series

Haven Younger and Mary Mitchell singing the chorus of Henry's Big Kaboom

Haven Younger and Mary Mitchell singing the chorus of Henry’s Big Kaboom

Hi. I find many of you prefer to watch videos than to read through blogs, so I’ve put together a three-part series about my trip to New England I hope you will enjoy.

Part I is my visit to Fort Ticonderoga in New York and a snippet of my performance of Henry’s Big Kaboom for the children.

Part II starts with finding New York Marker No. 1 of the Henry Knox Trail in Ticonderoga and following the rest of the markers through Albany, over the border into Massachusetts, and on to Westfield. That took three days. I then had to dash to Thomaston, Maine for the ‘Boom’ event. I will finish the trail from Westfield to Cambridge in September when I return to New England for my niece Megan’s wedding.

Part III shows my visit to the Henry Knox Museum aka Montpelier. Imagine what it’s like to view a place that, even though a replica of the original, is where your ancestors lived for three generations. As evidenced by the streets named after my 5x-great-grandparents (Knox St, Thatcher St, & Flucker St), they also established the town. I performed my Henry ballad a second time and met third cousins Amy MacDonald and Charles Fletcher (fellow Knox descendants) I’d never met before. Thrilling. After working hard to update our family tree and connect with my family, it was also very emotional.

Part I

Part II