Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 81: Newport, New Hampshire

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 81:  Newport, New Hampshire
September 21, 2010

            Very few things I have seen on my travels so far have been as impressive and breathtaking as my drive through Central New Hampshire.  The mountains are all around you and when it is combined with the oncoming fall foliage it makes for a dreamlike experience.
The Pier Bridge
The amazing view inside the Pier Bridge.
            Newport, New Hampshire, located just west of Mt. Sunapee, is the very definition of a mountain town.  The drive to get there, going through the very well known Sunapee area of New Hampshire, is worthy of an article all its own.  I found it very interesting that despite it being for a totally different reason Newport, New Hampshire was just as beautiful as Newport, Rhode Island.  Where Newport, Rhode Island is beautiful thanks to its mansions and scenic coastline Newport, New Hampshire is beautiful thanks to its covered bridges and scenic mountains.
            First settled in 1763 after a delay due to the hostilities of the French and Indian War, Newport became a very prosperous town thanks to its soil and the Sugar River.  A grist mill and cotton mill were established not too long after but it is a project which never got off the ground that I find most interesting.
South Congregational Church
            In 1817, inspired by the development of the Erie Canal in New York, businessmen suggested that a canal be created between the Connecticut and Merrimack Rivers.  This would have begun at the Sugar River in Newport and would have used Lake Sunapee as a reservoir.  For whatever reason, probably money, this proposed canal project was dropped before the first shovel was plunged into the dirt.  Ironically the Newport-based Sibley Scythe Company, established in 1842, supplied the scythes that were used to clear the jungle away from the site of the Panama Canal when construction began in 1903.    
            The first thing I wanted to see when I arrived in Newport was one of the three covered bridges located within its boundaries.  Even with a GPS these magnificent old relics of a forgotten time were very hard to find.  Luckily two of the bridges were located on the same road, Chandler’s Mill Road.      
            Located a mile down Chandler’s Mill Road is Pier Bridge.  The 216-foot long wooden truss bridge was built in 1907 and crosses over the Sugar River.  It was built to replace a wooden lattice bridge from 1871 which was used by the Sugar River Railroad.  The tracks are no longer there but there is a nice, wide dirt path which will lead to the second bridge, Wright Bridge, less than a mile walk away.
Newport's Town Hall & Court House
            For the Pier Bridge there is a small dirt area where I parked, it is an easy walk to the entrance of the bridge.  I have only seen one other covered bridge and that was in Vermont so standing inside this wooden masterpiece with only the sound of the birds and the soft trickling of the water below was something wonderful.  I truly felt like I was alone in the world during the time I was underneath the shelter of Pier Bridge.  The sunlight trickled in from all sides through the small spaces between boards.  It was something that words won’t do justice to, a photo will do much better.
            I did not choose to walk the .8 miles to the Wright Bridge.  Looking back I should have as my treasure hunt using my GPS led me way off track, I ended up at a point where there were no markings on the GPS screen, only white.  Needless to say after a few drives up and down Chandler’s Mill Road I gave up and headed to my next destination.  Still, I was so happy to get to stand underneath one of only eight covered railroad bridges in the entire country.
            The next stop during my time in Newport consisted of a walk down Main Street.  I parked at the historic South Congregational Church, built in 1823, which stands stoically over the surrounding homes and businesses.  The warm autumn day combined with the colorful leaves made this walk a pleasure, however, the places I got to see on Main Street were in a class of their own.
            There is a saying that the ‘whole is greater than the sum of its parts,’ that is sort of the case with Newport’s Main Street.  Yes there are many historic buildings but the entire scene as I walked along through the peaceful mountain town was something I wanted to capture and take with me when I had to leave.
            There is the beautifully sculpted Golden Eagle, a replica of the eagle crafted by Stephen Hasham of Charlestown, New Hampshire which once sat atop the Eagle Hotel.  It will definitely catch your eye as you pass by as it did for a small group of elementary school students who were out on a field trip on this day.  Sometimes that is how I feel as well.
The awe-inspiring Train Mural on Main Street.
            A few steps away is the mammoth brick Newport Town Hall & Court House built in 1886.  In fact there are several brick buildings, all from around the same time period, 1880’s and 1890’s which stand along Main Street.  The really neat thing about them, and this is the case in other towns I have visited, is that they each have names, usually on a smoky gray background.  I saw the Lewis Block, DeWolf, and Wheeler’s Block as I walked.  I can only assume they were named for those who put up the money to have them built.
            One amazing sight, off the beaten path, along the side of the Johnson Block building is ‘The Train Mural.’  It is an awe-inspiring hand painted depiction of the four seasons of New Hampshire along with some well known sites from the town of Newport.  This is a perfect way to get a taste of what this town is really all about if you do not have the time to walk.  I have been unable to find any information as to how old the Train Mural is, or who painted it, but they deserve great thanks for creating something so beautiful.
             Newport, New Hampshire is every bit as beautiful as its counterpart in Rhode Island.  From the covered railroad bridges to the trip to a simpler time that my walk on Main Street provided it is a town that I will not soon forget.  I hope everyone gets the chance at some point to visit this classic mountain town and to take in all of its beauty; it is worth any length of time to get here.  Have fun and happy traveling!  

     My first book, In My Footsteps: A Cape Cod Travel Guide, is now available at,, and, soon to be in stores everywhere!  Follow me on Twitter!

DirectionsPier Bridge:  From I-89 headed north take Exit 12 for Rt. 11.  Turn left at Rt. 11, follow it 11 miles, turn left at N. Main Street.  Take 3rd right onto Rt. 103, follow 3 miles, turn left at Chandler’s Mill Rd., bridge is 1 mile up on right.
            Main Street:  From I-89 headed north take Exit 12 for Rt. 11.  Turn left at Rt. 11, follow it 11 miles, turn left at N. Main Street, there is parking on the right side of street.   

            Newport, NH

Saturday, October 23, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 80: New London, New Hampshire

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 80:  New London, New Hampshire
September 21, 2010

            As my travel trips grew further and further from home I knew it was time to do my first overnight trip.  I found a perfect place to begin and a perfect place to stay as well.  New London, New Hampshire, a nearly three and a half hour drive for me from my home on Cape Cod was the setting for my first overnight stay ad it was amazing.  The drive up through the eastern fringe of the White Mountains as the sun began to set was something that I will never forget for the rest of my life.
The Lamplighter Motor Inn
            I chose to stay at the Lamplighter Inn on Main Street as it was recommended to me by a friend.  It ended up being the perfect place to stay.  Located just off of the main drag in New London the newly renovated Lamplighter is owned by Mr. Ernest Collier who took over the motel in March.  He has made some marked improvements which have made this spot a great landing place for any visitor to the area.  I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at the Lamplighter Inn and recommend it to anyone who travels to the New London area.
            To get a feel for what this small, near-mountain, town is all about I suggest taking a stroll along Main Street.  The small Colby-Sawyer College sits not far from where I stayed and there was a sprinkling of students along the street, though not as overwhelming as some college towns can be.  A sort of fun scavenger hunt for walkers on Main Street is to find all of the elaborately painted bull statues that reside along the sidewalks on either side.  They are beautiful although I cannot say for sure whether they are the result of the students at Colby-Sawyer for sure.
Looking across Sargent Common toward the Town Hall.
            I was lucky enough to plan my trip just as the foliage in central New Hampshire was getting into full gear.  The red, orange, and yellow leaves seemed to be springing up as I watched.  This added bonus made each and every photo I took even better.
            The very famous New London Inn stands out as an historic landmark on Main Street.  The land was first built upon in 1792 when 19-year-old Ezekiel Sargent built a farmhouse where the current Inn stands.  The Sargent family is intertwined with the history of the Inn as well as the town of New London.  In fact a short walk away from the New London Inn is a beautiful green area known as The Sargent Common.  Much of the original tract of land owned by Ezekiel Sargent ended up being part of the ‘Old Campus’ of Colby-Sawyer College though only the ‘Old Academy’ building still stands today.
Schytheville House at the Historical Society
According to the New London Inn’s website 1870 was when the farmhouse first became used as a hotel by a man named Herman J. Currier.  He bought the farmhouse and named it The Elms.  It is a very popular destination not only for overnight travelers looking for a room but for anybody who is a fan of history such as I am. 
               For a real taste of New London’s history though one only has to travel on Little Sunapee Road to the Historical Society.  It is more than one building, more like a small village of fourteen original or replica buildings.  The Scytheville House, built in 1835, is the face of the Historical Society as it is the first home you will see as you approach.  I was amazed at the peaceful tranquility of the location.  There was barely a peep from anything as I walked the grounds.  All around were the sights of the nearby White Mountains which were a constant reminder of just how far from home I was.  To make this scene complete were a pair of apple trees in full bloom by the road.  I enjoyed their shade for a moment before continuing on my way.
A view of Pleasant Lake.
            Further up the road is New London’s main public beach known as Bucklin Beach.  It is on the shores of Little Lake Sunapee.  Though it was a bit too cool to swim I still enjoyed the tremendous scenery that seemingly exists everywhere in New London.  This beach became a popular tourist destination in the late 19th Century and many of those vacationers eventually built summer homes along its shore.  There was even a small golf course built in the area way back then but it no longer exists.  I was also intrigued by a home built on a concrete breakwater sticking out close to a hundred feet into the water.  Not knowing if it was inhabited or not I enjoyed it from afar and went about my business.   
            What I took from my trip to New London though on top of everything was the incredible scenery.  There are so many places to stop and gaze off at the endless green hills which were dotted red and orange.  There are no bad spots to stop but I will give a couple of places that I thoroughly enjoyed. 
Some of the amazing New London scenery.
            Pleasant Lake was the first place I visited early in the morning and it gave me an entirely different perspective seeing the array of colors in the early morning sunlight.  There are several places to stop and look along Bunker Road.  There is also a sign which tells the story of the very first inhabitants of the area with artifacts that have been found in the area which date back thousands of years.  It is very easy to see why such a spot would be a popular settlement area.
            Another place with an amazing view is actually on Main Street, not really a designated area like Pleasant Lake.  I parked across the street from the historic Moses Trussell House, built in 1808, to take a few shots of the beautiful home on the hill.  On the other side of the street is an old barn which is now an antique shop.  There is a large tract of fenced in land which stretches out before you and then gives way to the rolling hills and mountains of Central New Hampshire.  My words will only do so much to describe it; you need to see it for yourself.
            My first overnight trip was a huge success thanks first to the great room at the Lamplighter Motor Inn and secondly because of the never-ending stream of awe-inspiring views.  A walk on Main Street will give you a feel of what this small college town is all about, and a drive to the Historical Society or along any of the smaller back roads will make sure that New London, New Hampshire seeps its way into your soul.  Have fun and happy traveling!   

DirectionsLamplighter Motor Inn:  From I-89 heading north take Exit 11 for King Hill Rd, turn right.  Turn left at Rt. 114.  Follow it just over 2 miles, turn left at fork in road for Newport Rd.  Lamplighter Inn is on right #34. 
            Pleasant Lake:  From I-89 heading north take Exit 11 for King Hill Rd, turn right.  Turn left at Rt. 114.  Turn right at Pleasant St., turn right at Bunker Rd.  Lake is on the left.
            Historical Society Village:  From I-89 heading north take Exit 11 for King Hill Rd, turn right.  Turn left at Rt. 114.  Follow it just over 2 miles, at fork stay right, becomes Little Sunapee Rd.  Historical Society is .3 miles up on left.  

ReferencesLamplighter Motor Inn
            New London Inn
            New London Historical

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 79: Swampscott, Massachusetts

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 79:  Swampscott, Massachusetts
September 8, 2010

Formerly a getaway for the rich Swampscott still is filled with a wealth of history and natural beauty.  It was originally known as M'squ'ompskut which means ‘Standing Red Rock’ by the Native Americans.  Though not as much of a destination for the wealthy as it was at the turn of the 20th century the town is one of the most affluent in the state.  One of the very first millionaires, Ebenezer Philips, made his fortune here in the late 18th century.  Philips learned the process of drying fish from the local Naumkeag Indians which led to greater shelf life for the fish.  Swampscott became world famous in 1808 when Ebenezer Thorndike invented the lobster pot which revolutionized lobster harvesting.
The view of Boston from Swampscott
First settled as a part of neighboring Lynn in 1629, Swampscott has an amazing view of the Boston skyline as it sits only twelve miles to the south across Nahant Bay and Broad Sound.  A great place to take in the Boston skyline is along Humphrey Street.  I found an area just passed Cap’n Jacks Waterfront Inn with parking on the road, railings and stairs down to the shore.  On a clear day it gives you an amazing view of Boston as well as a classic taste of the North Shore with the many rocks dotting the coastline.  There is a small green park within sight of this area which is close to the Swampscott Yacht Club.  Other beaches such as Preston Beach on Atlantic Avenue give you more great views of the many rock islands off of the coast of the North Shore. 
I particularly enjoyed Preston Beach which is right on the border with Marblehead.  Though the parking area is small there is a lot of stuff to see.  First off there is a really cool sundial with large rectangular stones around a center stone circle.  The longitude and latitude of the area is noted as well as lines where the seasons would change.  Upon closer inspection there were also words inscribed on the sides of the center stone including the words ‘Be Inspired By Love,’ which was a nice touch.
Elihu Thomson House
            An historic spot to visit is the Elihu Thomson House.  Built in 1889 this home is now the Swampscott Town Hall but it was originally built for the noted inventor and industrialist Thomson who founded the Thomson-Houston Electric Company in 1880.  This development was important as twelve years later, in 1892, Thomson’s company merged with Thomas Edison’s Edison General Electric Company to form General Electric.  In addition to the enormous achievement of being a cofounder of General Electric Elihu Thomson was a prolific inventor with more than 700 patents to his name.  He also served as president of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T) from 1920-1923 before his death in 1937.     
I enjoy checking out the various town and city halls as they normally are surrounded by items of historical significance such as war memorials.  Swampscott’s Town Hall is one of the most impressive, possibly because it was first a private residence.  Only the blue sign near the road gives away the fact that this building is used by the town.
Looking down Monument Avenue toward Nahant Bay.
As is the case with most other town and city halls the area surrounding the Elihu Thomson House was filled with other historic and beautiful spots.  The First Church in Swampscott, Congregational, established in 1845 is one such area just across the street from the Thomson House.  There is also a really nice rural rotary surrounded by flowers.  I enjoyed this spot because of the view you get looking down Monument Avenue toward Nahant Bay. 
John Humphrey House
Another historic home that needs to be seen is the John Humphrey House on Paradise Road.  With the oldest parts of the house having been built in 1637 it is a marvelous piece of early-American architecture.  It is said to have been built for John Humphrey who was the first Deputy Governor of the Massachusetts Colony under John Winthrop.  In addition to the fairly accurate depiction of period furnishings in the house there is also a secret room on the second floor.  This was built in case the family had to hide from an Indian attack, a sort of Colonial ‘panic room.’
Swampscott is yet another North Shore town that will enchant you with its views and historical sites.  The views of Boston from areas such as Preston Beach are amazing and will probably take up most of any visitor’s time.  However be sure to set aside a little time for the historic Elihu Thomson House and John Humphrey House.  They will not disappoint and neither will Swampscott.  Have fun and happy traveling! 

DirectionsPreston Beach: From Rt. 1 heading north, turn right at Essex St.  Continue onto Lincoln Ave. through the rotary.  Turn right at Ballard St.  Turn left onto Rt. 107, right onto Washington Street.  Left onto Rt. 1-A, right at Ocean St., left at Metropolitan Park St., continue onto Humphrey St., continue onto Atlantic Ave.  Drive 1 mile, beach is on right just before ‘Entering Marblehead’ sign.   
            Elihu Thomson House:  From Rt. 1A heading north take the 2nd exit at rotary to continue on Rt. 1A.  Turn left at Market Street, staying on 1A.  Turn right at Broad St., staying on 1A.  Turn right at Elmwood St.  Elihu Thomason House/Town Hall is #22.
            John Humphrey House:  From Rt. 1A heading north take the 2nd exit at rotary to continue on Rt. 1A.  Turn left at Market Street, staying on 1A.  Turn right at Broad St., staying on 1A.  Broad St. becomes Paradise Road, still stays Rt. 1A.  Humphrey House is #99.    


Saturday, October 16, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 78: Peabody, Massachusetts

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 78:  Peabody, Massachusetts
September 8, 2010

            Peabody is one North Shore town that I had ulterior motives for visiting besides my normal traveling.  I will admit that the lure of a Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant made this an easy trip to book.  Obviously that was only the tip of the iceberg as far as things to see, but for me it was like visiting an old friend when I used to dine at Chick-fil-A many a time while living in Southeastern Florida a few years back.
            Peabody is not only an amazing town to visit but according to Forbes Magazine in 2009 it ranked 14th as far as America’s Most Livable Cities, meaning Peabody is also a great place to build a life.  On this day I was just up for a visit and was very happy with all that I saw.
Peabody Historical Fire Museum
            The best place to start in Peabody is an area filled with historical sites.  The Felton-Smith Historic Site is simply amazing.  It began in the dirt parking area which was in between rows of apple trees.  The bright green apples under the warm sun gave me the feeling that this spot was going to be impressive.
            On the left, standing alone against the wide open land behind it, was the Peabody Historical Fire Museum.  This building looks more like an old church than a fire house built in 1875.  The building was known as the home of Peabody Engine Company No. 3 when it resided on Endicott Street.  It was moved to the Felton-Smith Historic Site in 1990 and contains some rare firefighting artifacts from Peabody and the North Shore. 
            The Smith Barn, part of the name of the Felton-Smith Historic Site, is located at the forefront of the property on Felton Street.  Built in 1903 by Joseph Smith for storing apples, grain, and farming machinery it sits overlooking 250 acres of orchards and conservation land.  It is frequently used for weddings and the Historical Society’s annual Craft Fair.  It can comfortably hold up to 240 people.     
Smith Barn
            The privately owned Orchard House is to the right of the Smith Barn and is not open to the public.  Across the street is a pair of historic homes owned by Nathanel Felton Sr. and Jr.  The home of Nathanel Felton Sr. is the oldest home in Peabody, built in 1644.  The Nathanel Felton Jr. house was built in 1683.  The Feltons were famous for defending their neighbor, John Proctor, during the Salem Witch Trials.  To clarify, I have used the spelling of the name ‘Nathanel’ which is as it appears on both of the signs in front of the historic homes.  It does seem a bit odd, but I do not believe that the historical society would have spelled it this way unless it was correct.  I thoroughly enjoyed being able to park and walk a short distance to all of these places.  If only all of my trips were so convenient.
            A short drive down the road is another amazing treat, Brooksby Farm.  Weighing in at 232 acres, 65 of them being orchards, this working farm is a great destination for adults and children alike.  Visitors can pick their own apples, strawberries, and raspberries, or buy fresh fruits and vegetables at the farm stand. 
Brooksby Farm leading to Fire Museum
There is also a nice collection of barnyard animals which I enjoyed.  There were sleeping pigs, snoring at that I might add, there was also a solitary chicken that had escaped its pen and was trying to get back in while the other chickens all clucked at it.  When I informed the nice people inside the farm stand they told me that chicken is a master escape artist.  The animals also included a llama and what I think was an emu, it would not come over to me.  The sheer size of the farmland was incredible, it extended all out as far as I could see.  The Fire Museum sat majestically on the other side of the hill with nothing in the way to obstruct my view. 
After enjoying the quiet of Brooksby Farm I ventured into the center of Peabody and its City Hall.  I liked their City Hall because the walkway leading up to the front doors was lined with many flags of foreign countries.  After snapping some nice shots of the various flags blowing in the wind it was time for my lunch at Chick-fil-A.  The one thing I did not realize was that the restaurant itself was located inside the Northshore Mall.
This was the first time during any of my trips that I actually had a mall as a destination.  I parked on the wrong side and had to walk the entire length of the mall which was packed on this day.  It was very much worth it though when I caught sight of the Chick-fil-A logo and got my order. 
George Peabody House and Museum
After enjoying my lunch by the Waters River Marina I was off to my final destination.  The George Peabody House and Museum is the birthplace of the man for whom the town is named.  Born in 1795, in what was then known as South Danvers, Peabody was a well known international merchant and philanthropist during the 19th century.  Before it became the current museum the yellow home was actually used by the American Glue Company.
There are many other historic homes in Peabody, many located on Washington Street, and they all house their own story.  I will take from my time in Peabody the memories at the Felton-Smith Historic Site, the Fire Museum, and Felton homes.  Everyone who visits Peabody needs to spend some time at Brooksby Farm either picking their own fruit or taking in the barnyard animals.  Peabody is yet another amazing town in a string of them on the North Shore.  Have fun and happy traveling!

DirectionsFelton-Smith Historic Site/Brooksby Farm:  From I-95 north take Exit 44B for Rt. 1.  Keep right at fork in road, continue 2 miles and keep right at another fork in road.  Take Lowell St. exit and keep right, turn left at Baldwin St., turn left to stay on Baldwin St.  Turn left at Felton St.  Historic Site is on left, Brooksby Farm is all the way at end of street.
            George Peabody House & Museum:  From I-95 north head toward Exit 44A, slight left at Rt. 128.  Take Exit 26 to merge onto Lowell St.  Turn right at Foster St., right at Washington St.  Peabody House is #205.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 77: Marblehead, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 77:  Marblehead, Massachusetts
September 8, 2010

            Marblehead is a one of a kind town in a one of a kind area known as the North Shore.  I have been through this town a few times and look forward to it more and more every time I visit.   The town was originally inhabited by the Naumkeag tribe of Native Americans but the people were devastated by what is believed to have been smallpox in the early 17th century.  The town got its name from early settlers who mistook the granite ledges along the shore for marble.
Marblehead Harbor
Marblehead, along with neighboring Beverly, has lay claim to being the birthplace of the United States Navy.  While both towns may have their own opinions there is no doubting the importance of Marblehead Harbor.  Beginning with the sailing of the Hannah in September, 1775, General George Washington gave orders for the first American vessels to engage the British during the American Revolution.  They were sailed and commanded by men of Marblehead and were the forerunners of the United States Navy.  Thus began the claim by the people of Marblehead that their town saw the birth of the Navy.
Crocker Park, located on the western side of the harbor includes a plaque proclaiming George Washington’s Navy to have been manned by Marbleheaders during the Revolution.  However, there is so much more to this spot than a plaque.  The view across the harbor toward Marblehead Light is amazing, especially during the summer when the harbor is filled with boats.  The park got its name from Uriel Crocker who donated the nearly three acres of land to the town in 1885.  It has the classic granite boulder clusters scattered in among the grass which gives the park a distinct North Shore feel.
I started this article by saying that Marblehead is a one of a kind town.  That being said one of the things that makes it unique can also be looked upon as a problem and that is the maze-like quality of its streets.  Don’t get me wrong, having to be very cautious and driving slowly along the twists and turns of Marblehead made it easier to see more of the historic homes which line those streets.  Still, without my trusty GPS I might have had a much more difficult time making it from Point A to Point B.
Fort Sewall
Not far from Crocker Park is the equally amazing Fort Sewall.  The fort was built in 1742 as a defense against French Cruisers and named for Samuel Sewall who was Chief Justice of Massachusetts in 1814.  It is an earthen fort much like Fort Revere in Hull and Fort Taber in New Bedford.  I enjoyed my walk around the ground for several reasons.  One was the fort itself which is built into the hill and has some furniture and other items inside the barred windows.  I cannot say for certain if those things are from the period when the fort was in use, but it was neat to see something other than empty walls.  I also enjoyed my walk around Fort Sewall thanks to a perfectly stationed set of binoculars.  These were set up in an area giving a great close up view of Marblehead Light and a more surprising view of Bakers Island Light located about five miles from Fort Sewall on the outskirts of Salem Harbor.
Abbot Hall
     Abbot Hall, which is now Marblehead Town Hall as well, is filled with historic artifacts from the area.  Located inside the brick 19th Century building sits, among other things, the original Spirit of ’76 painting by Archibald MacNeal Willard, the deed to Marblehead signed by the Naumkeag Indians in 1684, and a painting of Marbleheaders rowing George Washington across the Delaware River.  It is a beautiful building with its checkered clock tower, it is clearly visible from many places around the town and I found it a great backdrop for many photos of mine.
Marblehead Light
               As far as one of a kind sights in Marblehead there is one that stands above the others.  Standing majestically on the grounds of Chandler Hovey Park on the eastern side of the harbor is the incredible Marblehead Light, built in 1832.  Why is it so amazing?  It is the only lighthouse in New England with a skeletal structure as opposed to the classic cylindrical tower that is common.  The next lighthouse built similar to Marblehead Light is located at Coney Island in New York.  The lighthouse, which honestly looks like a disposable ink cartridge for a pen, stands tall on a cliff overlooking Marblehead Harbor, its green light visible for seven nautical miles.  It is my favorite lighthouse I have seen thus far and seem to not be able to control myself when snapping photos of it, almost like a paparazzo.
On my first trip to Marblehead Light I scaled down one of the rock faces into a sort of gully that runs down to the edge of the water and it was an incredible sight seeing Marblehead Light from down inside the rocks.  The constant crash of the waves on the rocky shore made it well worth any risk.  To enjoy this area you need not put life and limb at risk though, there are many benches and sheltered areas where one can simply sit and watch the boats entering the harbor, or just listen to the waves crashing on the rocks.  I did not attempt a repeat climb on my most recent trip, I was content just sitting on said benches and staring at the marvelous lighthouse.
A one of a kind town, Marblehead is quintessential North Shore.  It is one of my favorite places to visit for its historical significance and of course the amazing Marblehead Light.  Take your time navigating the streets but do not worry as it will only be more time spent enjoying all of the sights that this marvelous Massachusetts town has to offer.  Have fun and happy traveling!

My first book, In My Footsteps: A Cape Cod Travel Guide, is now available at,, and, soon to be in stores everywhere!  Follow me on Twitter!

DirectionsChandler Hovey Park/Marblehead Light: From Rt. 1 heading north, turn right at Essex St.  Continue onto Lincoln Ave. through the rotary.  Turn right at Ballard St.  Turn left onto Rt. 107, right onto Washington Street.  Left onto Rt. 1-A, right at Ocean St., left at Metropolitan Park St., continue onto Humphrey St., continue onto Atlantic Ave.  Turn right on Ocean Ave., left onto Harbor Ave., continue onto Ocean Ave., left at Follett St.
            Crocker Park:  From Rt. 1A north continue onto Lynnway, at rotary take 2nd exit for Lynn Shore Dr.  Continue onto Ocean St., continue onto Humphrey St., continue onto Atlantic Ave., turn left at Ocean Ave.  Turn right at Pleasant St., turn right at Washington St., turn right at Darling St.  Take quick left at Front St., right at Crocker Park Ln.
            Fort Sewall:  Follow Crocker Park directions.  Once on Front Street follow it half a mile, there is parking for the fort on the left, vehicles are not allowed near the fort grounds.

            Fort Sewall - Essex

Monday, October 11, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 76: Beverly, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 76:  Beverly, Massachusetts
September 8, 2010

            The North Shore of Massachusetts, for those of you who may not have read any of my previous articles, is one of my favorite places to visit.  I always enjoy my time there and love it even more when I find unexpected beauty in a place I visit.  This was the case when I paid another visit to the town of Beverly, also known as ‘The Garden City.’
John Cabot House c.1781
            Originally a part of Salem, and named for a town in Yorkshire, England, Beverly can lay claim to a very important moment in American history.  Beverly is the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution which began with the construction of the first cotton mill in 1787 or 1788.  To this day however, Beverly maintains that the first American vessel to engage the British in the Revolution, the Hannah, was built in, and first sailed from, Beverly.  They have so much faith in this that the Hannah is prominently featured on the police department’s patch.
John Hale House c.1694
The first spot I visited in Beverly was the John Cabot House on Cabot Street.  The house was the first brick house built in Beverly in 1781.  The house is only the beginning of the importance of the Cabot name in Beverly and before that in Boston.  The Cabot family lived in the Beacon Hill section of Boston and were one of the ‘Boston Brahmins’ or First Families of Boston.  The Cabot family’s first business in Boston upon their arrival from France was that of dory making, dory’s are small, shallow draft-boats.
Rear-view of Hospital Point Lighthouse
John Cabot who built the Cabot House I visited was one of the members of the family who made a fortune in privateering and banking.  In fact the house became the first office of the Beverly Bank in 1802 which is the tenth oldest bank in America.  John Cabot was one of its seven original directors.
There are many historic homes in Beverly, a lot of them have a very significant story to them like the Cabot House.  However, one that really caught my attention was the Rev. John Hale House on Hale Street.  Why is this house so important?  The Rev. John Hale was the pastor of the Church of Christ in Beverly during the Salem Witch Trials in 1692.  Hale was one of the most prominent figures associated with the Trails and is noted with having originally supported the Trials but then changing his mind.  He even wrote the book A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft in 1697 which challenged the legality and references to the Bible used in the Salem Witch Trials.  The house itself, in which Hale lived from 1694 until his death in 1700, is very unassuming but for its pale yellow exterior.  There are several large beech trees in the back of the house which are accompanied by an engraved stone explaining that they were planted in 1937 by the Beverly Improvement Society.
Rose Garden at Lynch Park
Another historic spot which is a little off the beaten path is Hospital Point Lighthouse.  Hard to find because it sits along side a private residence, this lighthouse takes its name from a smallpox hospital built on the spot in 1801.  The lighthouse itself is a rectangle which is different from the normal conic shape.  A watch house was built on the grounds all the way back in 1711.  The lighthouse looks out over Salem Sound and is clearly visible from the fence surrounding it.  However, it is on private land and thus cannot be seen any closer except on occasions when there are open houses.  The photos I took the first time I visited Beverly were from a stone wall at the end of Bayview Ave.  I would not recommend this to any traveler as there is a good forty-foot drop on the other side and a slip is always possible.  This more recent time I perched myself on a grassy knoll behind the house and got a few good shots while also respecting the private property.
My favorite spot that I saw while in Beverly actually came as a surprise to me.  I went to Lynch Park on Ober Street for the view of the shoreline that makes the North Shore famous.  However it was the rose garden located inside a sort of brick wall fortress that will be what stood out most for me as far as Beverly is concerned.
Rose Garden at Lynch Park
At one point there was a cottage which stood where the present day rose garden stands.  In the summers of 1909 and 1910 then-President William Howard Taft leased the cottage.  It was after the summer of 1910 that the Taft family was informed that the Evans family, which controlled the area then known as Burgess Point, planned to build an Italian rose garden on that spot.  The sunken rose garden with several brick steps leading down into the maze of flowers and beautifully manicured grass has been the sight of many weddings and other social gathering in its one hundred years of existence.  I was in awe of the sights and scents of the garden especially as the warm sun bathed the garden in bright light.
I cannot stress enough how impressive and beautiful this garden is.  Obviously it is best to be seen during the spring and summer when the flowers are in full bloom, I was lucky enough to stumble upon this place at the right time of the year.  Beverly adds yet another amazing town to my love affair with the North Shore of Massachusetts.  Make a list of the historic homes to visit and check out the great stories that go with each.  Don’t forget to take a drive by Hospital Point Light and absolutely make a lot of time to walk around the rose garden as well as the rest of the spectacular Lynch Park.  Have fun and happy traveling!

            For a short video of the rose garden at Lynch Park click here:  Lynch Park - Beverly, Ma. - YouTube

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DirectionsHospital Point Lighthouse: Take Rt. 128 off of I-95.  Take Exit 18, turn right onto Rt. 22.  Turn left at Corning St.  Continue onto Bayview Ave.  Hospital Point Light is on the left at the end.
            Lynch Park:  From Rt. 128 north take Exit 18 for Rt. 22.  Turn right at Rt. 22, turn left at Corning St.  Turn right at Oceanside Dr., park will be straight ahead at the end of the road. 
                Lynch Park - Beverly Recreation
            Essex National Heritage Area
            Beverly, Ma. - Official Town Site