Note: This story is from the July-August, 2013 issue of the Gypsy Journal.
Besides Plymouth Rock, the Mayflower II, Pilgrim Hall Museum, and plenty of other attractions, Plymouth, Massachusetts is also home to the largest free standing granite monument in the world. But you have to make an effort to find it.
The National Monument To The Forefathers is dedicated to the Pilgrims who first settled New England. Completed in 1889, the beautiful 81 foot tall monument features a 36 foot tall central figure representing Faith, with her right hand pointing toward heaven and her left hand clutching the Bible.
Four seated statues around the base represent Law, Morality, Liberty, and Education. Each was carved from a solid block of granite. Smaller bas-relief figures carved into the base represent other virtues such as Youth, Justice, and Peace.
Panels on the side of the monument are engraved with the names of those who came to America on the Mayflower.
Other panels have bas-relief depictions of important events in the Pilgrims’ experience.
The monument was a long time coming. First conceived about 1820 by the newly founded Pilgrim Society, the monument was designed by Boston sculptor and architect Hammatt Billings. The cornerstone was laid on August 2, 1859 by the Grand Lodge of Masons in Massachusetts, and after Billings’ death in 1874, his brother Joseph took over the project.
It’s hard to visualize the true size and beauty of the monument until you actually stand below it. The attention to detail in all of the sculptures is amazing.
The monument is located on a hill a mile from Plymouth Harbor, and back when it was built it was an impressive landmark that could be seen from almost anywhere in Plymouth and from out to sea. In fact, an early streetcar line ran along the base of the hill and tourists from around the country snapped pictures as they passed by.
However, over time huge trees have grown up around the area and these days you have to be almost at the foot of the hill to see the monument. And we were surprised to discover that the first three local residents either did not know the monument existed at all, or if they did, they could not tell us where it was!
Finally, after a couple of false starts, we found the monument in a mostly residential area on Allerton Street near Cushman Street. Though tour buses navigate the narrow and busy streets of Plymouth, it’s not something I would consider in our motorhome. We left our Winnebago at a campground and drove our Ford Explorer to explore Plymouth.
It may take a little work to find the National Monument To The Forefathers, but I’m glad we made the effort. It’s definitely one of the most impressive monuments we’ve found anywhere in the country. Visit it yourself and I think you’ll agree!
It’s time to kick off a new Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an audiobook of Blood Honor, the debut novel in my friend Russell Blake’s The Day After Never post-apocalyptic trilogy. To enter, all you have to do is click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn Sunday evening.
Thought For The Day – You should never have to think twice about who your true friends are. If you do, they aren’t true.