Pilgrims in Plymouth, MA

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Today was all about Pilgrims. I’ll start off with the Mayflower II ship we visited, a replica of the actual Mayflower used by the Pilgrims, build in England.  Mayflower II is a reproduction of the original Mayflower, built in England around 1955, in a collaboration between Englishman Warwick Charlton and Plimoth Patuxet (the guy behind Plimoth Plantation, the museum associated with this town). Mayflower II was sailed from England in 1957 to NYC, recreating the original voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. After various visits and extensive repairs, the Mayflower II was taken to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 2013.

The Mayflower II boat, much like the actual Mayflower that brought the Pilgrims to America.

These old boats were so small. The sailors did not like the Pilgrims and made them all stay below deck. There were 102 passengers sharing a space about 58 foot by 24 foot.  Click here more more about the Mayflower II.

This was the Tween Deck, about half the space they had to stay in, along with the livestock.

They say the Pilgrims actually landed on Cape Cod first, but moved to the Plymouth area because it was more favorable with water and cleared land.  They took over abandoned Indian villages, abandoned because disease wiped out many of the Indians a few years earlier.

This is the impressive structure used to protect Plymouth Rock.

The actual Plymouth Rock is rather unimpressive. They do have an impressive structure surrounding it, but the rock at my campsite is much bigger than this one in Plymouth.  It was said that many years ago, there used to be a hammer and chisel on-site so that tourists could chip off a piece of Plymouth Rock to keep as a souvenir.

Plymouth Rock, inscribed with 1620, the year they landed.  Also, you can see a crack in the rock and repair efforts.

We visited Plimoth Patuxet Museum. Apparently in early documents, before spelling was standardized, Plymouth was spelled Plimoth.

This was quite an impressive museum with a large endowment, lots of land and helpful staff and many interpretive actors. On the walk to the Plymouth villiage re-creation, you pass through an Indian settlement. The Wampanoag were the Natives who used to live here and called the area Patuxet. However the village was empty when the Pilgrims arrived because a few years earlier a plague wiped out most of the inhabitants of this village. They used to live in these domed structures which were covered by bark in the winter, like this one is, and animal hides in the summer.

Historic Patuxet homesite.

They moved about in canoes hollowed out of trees.

The settlement was built to depict life at around 1627, seven years after the Pilgrims arrived, because there wasn’t much when they first got there. By this time, the settlement was surrounded by a fence, and defended by a fort because Indians were already attacking the village. The fort had cannons and guns, but they also used the downstairs for meetings and church.

The view up the street to the fort at the early English settlement.
The view from the fort down the main street of the English settlement. That is the ocean beyond, and if you squint real hard, you can see Gurnet Lighthouse in the distance.

They build their houses much like England did – with lumber and thatched roofs.

Most of the houses were just one room with a thatched roof, no windows, dirt floors, and a fence surrounding the gardens.

Most of the houses had a fire pit right on the dirt floor with a big open chimney in the roof.  I was surprised that they quickly built fences sectioning off their yard from everyone else, given all the land that was surrounding them.

The fire pit is on the floor to the right and the smoke rose to an open chimney in the roof.

Around the village, there were several role players.  Here are a few…

That’s Belinda from our group helping harvest patty-pan squash in the garden.
These guys were recruiting a militia, because not all early settlers were Pilgrims.  Some were Separatists from England.

We had our lunch at the Plimoth Patuxet Museum and it was a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, squash, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Yum!

And one final part of the Plimoth Patuxet series of museums was the Plimoth Grist Mill. This building came later, around 1636. They still grind corn at this mill on Saturdays.

Plimoth Grist Mill, still in operation.

The final stop with the Forefathers statue.

The bottom half of the Forefathers statue. Lighting wasn’t right that time of the day for a good photo of the whole statue.

Today I had a free day. I stayed at the campground to do laundry and catch up with things. This campground (Normandy Farms) is the largest campground I’ve ever seen. It has over 300 campsites. There is an indoor pool, 3 outdoor pools, 18 hole disc golf, golf carts, basketball, baseball diamonds, soccer, tennis, volleyball, horseshoes, bocce, shuffleboard, a fishing pond, bike course, and a dog park the size of a football field. I walked the perimeter and it was over 2 miles.  As well as the campsites, you can rent cabins, shelters, yurts and this interesting tent with a front and back porch. I’m impressed.

One of the tents available at Normandy Farms Family Campground, with a front and back porch.

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