Saturday, October 9, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 75: Kingston, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 75:  Kingston, Massachusetts
August 26, 2010

            Kingston is a very difficult town to get a hold of.  For me it took me three trips to find all of the places I was looking for.  Perhaps it was just the fact that I was not looking hard enough.  I will tell you that once I was able to get my bearings I found Kingston to be much more than just the town where the Independence Mall is located.
The Jones River
            Although it was incorporated as a separated town thanks to a dispute between residents of north and south Plymouth Kingston had long been the home of the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans.  There are several Native American burial grounds inside the borders of Kingston which also housed some of the bloodiest battles of King Philip’s War in the 17th century.
            Another interesting story is that of Kingston’s Silver Lake.  The large lake on the western side of town was formerly known as Jones River Pond.  It was used to harvest ice during the cold winters which would then be shipped all over the world.  Kingston was very successful in the business of ice harvesting and renamed Jones River Pond Silver Lake in the early 1800’s for marketing purposes at the height of the ice harvesting exportation.  The ice harvesting on Silver Lake ended around 1870 but the lake retains its name to this day.
Major John Bradford Homestead
            I believe another source of confusion for me as I searched through Kingston was the fact that my GPS brought me to the old Town Hall which was used from 1841 until 2003 when a new one was built.  The New Town Hall on Evergreen Street overlooks the Evergreen Cemetery.  When I first visited Kingston and the Old Town Hall I knew something was amiss when there were no cars and the building was rather run down.  It does still have a nice gazebo on the green as well as a Civil War monument but the building itself is a hollowed out shell.
            The Jones River which passes through Kingston is a big part of the town and its history.  I found a great spot to view the river was the Jones River Landing on Landing Road.  There was a small rocky parking area and a few docks nearby, I was able to get a great vantage point looking north and south.  There are other places I am sure to check out the Jones River but this one caught my eye due to the fact that there were several other historic sites within walking distance.
Gray's Beach Park
            Directly across from where I parked is the small Jones River Park which came complete with an interesting marker.  Located in the middle of the park the marker identifies the spot near where Kingston’s large shipbuilding industry once stood.  Between 1726 and 1898, 276 vessels built near that spot were launched at the Jones River Landing where I had parked.
            Next to the Jones River Park is the home of Major John Bradford built in 1714.  Bradford was the grandson of the original Plymouth County Governor William Bradford.  John Bradford was a First Deputy to the Plymouth Courts and eventually became a Selectman and a Representative to the General Assembly in Boston.  The house served as the Bradford’s homestead for sixty-two years and was lived in continuously until it was purchased by the Jones River Village Club, predecessor to the current historical society, in 1921.
Unique home located near Gray's Beach
            The final spot I visited during my time in Kingston was Gray’s Beach in the village of Rocky Nook.  I arrived later in the afternoon so the lowering sun gave the beach an orange-yellow hue that added to the beauty of it.  The Myles Standish Monument can be seen stretching above Captain’s Hill in neighboring Duxbury.  The view across Kingston and Duxbury Bay out to the Gurnet and Clark’s Island is awesome.  The shadows of the trees of Gray’s Beach Park stretched out nearly to the water and I enjoyed just standing and watching the families splashing in the water.
            In the summer there is a small snack shack open to the right of the beach and is a perfect way to allow yourself to spend the entire day at the beach.  One really neat spot at Gray’s Beach is actually located on the nearby Wharf Road but is visible from the sand.  Though I tried to look up its exact identity there is a house sitting a few hundred feet out from the shore on a private gated driveway.  It is a very unique sight as there is no yard and although it is smoothly paved the house seems to be built on a sort of breakwater for the beach.
            Though it was difficult for me to find all that I was looking for during my initial trip through Kingston it ended up being worth the wait.  There is the great historic area around the Jones River Landing and any day would not be complete without taking in Gray’s Beach Park.  Of course if you wish there is always the Independence Mall which is a whole day of fun on its own.  Have fun and happy traveling!

DirectionsJones River Landing:  From Rt. 3 take Exit 9, turn right at Rt. 3A.  Take slight right at Landing Rd.  Jones River Landing is on right just before Rt. 3 underpass.
            Gray’s Beach Park:  From Rt. 3 take Exit 6, turn right for Rt. 44, turn left at Rt. 3A.  Turn right at Howlands Ln., take 1st right onto Gray’s Beach Road.

                Kingston, Ma. - Official Town Site

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