Friday, January 21, 2011

In My Footsteps: Trip 97: Dartmouth, Massachusetts

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund

Trip 97:  Dartmouth, Mass.
December 2, 2010

Demarest Lloyd State Park
            One part seaside village and one part college town, Dartmouth has the best of both of those worlds and much more. Dartmouth is primarily known as the home of one of  the University of Massachusetts campuses.  However, the ‘college town’ part of Dartmouth is only a small piece of what makes up this seaside town.  It was first settled in 1652, purchased from the Wampanoag chiefs Massasoit and Wamsutta by Plymouth Colony.  It was subsequently sold to the Quakers because they wanted a place to live outside of the strict Puritan laws of Plymouth Colony.  There are several Quaker Meeting House’s located in Dartmouth’s borders that remind citizens and visitors alike of the town’s roots.
            The first place I stopped at was Demarest Lloyd State Park along Dartmouth’s southern coast on Barney’s Joy Road.  In the offseason the gate is closed and so I had to walk down to the beach which faces Buzzards Bay.  The walk was nice though as the road is paved and the weather was not too cold.  There is a picnic area on the right as you head toward the beach.  Although there aren’t any places to park next to the picnic area they would really only be used when it is warm so that should not stop anybody from partaking in the beautiful picnic area scenery.
Oxford Creamery at the Bucket
            The beach is small and filled with small rocks but it has spectacular views.  To the east there is Mishaum Point and the Slocums River empties into Buzzards Bay here.  To the west the land slopes out toward Horseneck Beach in neighboring Westport.  The river may empty here but there is a much better place to enjoy the sights of Slocums River.  Russell Mills Landing on Horseneck Road was where I stopped to get a good view of the river passing through.  There is a playground for the children and I got to see a huge flock of ducks meandering around in the water.  While I can’t promise you the ducks the scenery at Russells Mills Landing is worth a look.  The name Russells Mills will appear again later in this article.
            Apponagansett Park on Gulf Road is another place filled with great maritime scenery.  The name Apponagansett is also the name of one of the previously mentioned Quaker Meeting House’s located in Dartmouth.  The park is rather small, facing Apponagansett Bay, and connected to South Dartmouth by a long drawbridge.  There were still some boats in the water as well despite it being well past the end of the season.  However despite the boats, a gazebo, and drawbridge, there was something else that caught my eye here above all else.
Looking across Apponagansett Bay to S. Dartmouth.
            It was a twenty-foot tall brown ice cream bucket that fascinated me the moment I pulled into Apponagansett Park.  Oxford Creamery at the Bucket, also known as Gulf Hill Dairy Ice Cream is a unique ice cream shack that must be extremely busy during the summer.  I imagine that there must be lots of people who come from miles away just to see this one of a kind landmark in addition to partaking in the delicious treats it serves.  It was during my time at places like this where I had to remind myself that this was a college town you’d be hard pressed to find evidence of that fact once you get out of sight of the UMass campus.
            The Apponagansett Friends Meeting House, located on Russell Mills Road was originally built in 1689 with the current structure having been erected in 1790.  As I previously said it is one of several Quaker Meeting Houses in Dartmouth and this one sits stoically on a hill overlooking the road and hiding an old cemetery behind it.  I am not one for wandering through cemeteries but it felt like I was taking a walk through the history of the town as I did.  Granted it is not for everyone, but those who don’t get creeped out easily might enjoy it.
            The village of Russells Mills is a large part of the history of Dartmouth.  I have already mentioned it when speaking of the landing which sits next to Solcums River.  However, there is an historic district in the western part of the town that houses some neat old buildings.
Russells Mills Schoolhouse-Library c. 1871
            I stopped at the Russells Mills Library-Schoolhouse built in 1871.  Doubling as both in the past it is now used solely as a library.  Try as I might I have had trouble finding out the importance of the Russells Mills name so much of the history of this area is unknown to me.  There was a donkey hitched up behind the building which was a bit surprising to me and was one of the little moments I tend to run into which make each trip unique.  I hope that maybe someone reading this might have some much needed information about the Russells Mills name for me.
            Dartmouth is definitely a mixture of many places.  One part college town and one part seaside village it is all together a great spot to visit.  I would imagine that it would be even more fun to visit Demarest Lloyd State Park and Oxford Creamery at the Bucket at Appongansett Park during the summer.  Still I enjoyed my time in Dartmouth and think any potential traveler will as well.  Have fun and happy traveling!

For more In My Footsteps items follow my Twitter Feed, view more photos at the In My Footsteps fan page on Facebook, or visit my homepage at   Thanks for reading! 

Directions:  Demarest Lloyd State Park:  From I-195 take Exit 12, turn right at Faunce Corner Dr., continue onto Old Westport Rd.  Turn left at Chase Rd., follow it 3.5 miles, turn right at Russells Mills Rd.  Continue onto Horseneck Rd., continue onto Barney’s Joy Rd.  Park entrance is 1 mile up on left.
            Apponagansett Park:  From I-195 take Exit 12, turn right at Faunce Corner Dr., turn left at State Rd., turn right at Tucker Rd.  Follow it 3 miles, continue onto Russells Mills Rd.  Continue onto Bakerville Rd.  Turn left at Gulf Rd., Park is on left 1.3 miles.


No comments: