Monday, July 3, 2017

(40) Plymouth Rock, The beginning.

Plymouth Rock, where it begins

"A Good Road from Plymouth Rock To Puget Sound"

Postcard Showing Plymouth Rock 1928 Portico

The Yellowstone Trail

We are returning west on the Yellowstone Trail. The Yellowstone Trail is also a named highway that dates from 1912. However, it did not begin as a transcontinental trail. I'm sure that the organizers were dreaming of a transcontinental road, but they decided to do it in segments rather than as a grand Highway spanning the continent. It began in South Dakota, the brainchild of Joe Parmley. It did not have the substantial backing of the automobile industry as did the Lincoln Highway. But it has an equally colorful, if difficult to find, history. The history of named highways is always interesting. In the case of the Yellowstone it makes for particularly fun reading.

The organizers of the Yellowstone Trail were not given to using superlatives. Surely if the Yellowstone Trail were organized today the motto would be far grander than simply "A Good Road from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound". At a minimum they would now say that it was "a grand road from Plymouth Rock to Puget Sound" perhaps "an excellent road". But in the early twentieth century individuals were not given to the overuse of superlatives as we are today. This was true particularly of Midwesterners. For them it was sufficient to have a "good Road". In addition, it must be remembered that this was the age of the "Good Roads Movement". The term "Good Road" was readily understood. In addition it suited Joe Parmley and the other organizers of the Yellowstone Trail. They were sober, hard-working farmers.

Plymouth Rock Portico
Plymouth Massachusetts

We began our Yellowstone Trail journey yesterday in Plymouth Massachusetts. We Traveled there to visit Plymouth Rock. Although my research prepared me for a little disappointment in terms of the size Plymouth Rock it was still surprised to see how small it is. I remember as a child watching a CBS show with my father called: "The Twentieth Century". The show sponsored by Prudential Insurance Company, whose logo featured the Rock of Gibraltar. One night I remember asking my dad if that big rock was Plymouth Rock. My dad chuckled and told me that it was not. In my mind, Plymouth Rock had to be at least as grand as the Rock of Gibraltar.

"Gee, it's much smaller than I thought it would be."

When I saw the first picture of Plymouth Rock I realized it was relatively small. When I saw it in person, I discovered that it is even smaller. Many people have larger landscaping stones in their gardens. None of this diminishes the importance of Plymouth Rock in our nation's history. Plymouth is the oldest continuously occupied English-speaking settlement in America. The Mayflower Compact is one of the oldest of written constitutions. The Rock was exciting to see, but like Linda's first engagement ring, its size belied its significance.

Statue of William Bradford

We also hiked around the old town Plymouth and visited many of the historic sites. These included Jenny Gristmill, the statue of Massasoit, and Memorial to the Pilgrim fathers died that first terrible winter. Some of the buildings we viewed are reconstructions, others are original.

In front of reconstruction of Jenney Gristmill

Remains of the decedents of that first winter.
"In 1620, please remember, the Pilgrims landed in December"
Memorial to Pilgrim Women

Taunton Mass.

Taunton Green
We returned to Taunton for some more sight seeing, and for a good night sleep. Taunton, until very recently was home to Reed and Barton Silversmiths. Sadly, Reed and Barton is bankrupt.

The Taunton Green is very picturesque and a pleasant place to pass the time.

Monument to Spanish American War, Taunton

In the morning, we also performed some needed maintenance on the Mustang and the trailer. Wheel bearings on the trailer were checked, grease was added and both the mechanic and I were satisfied that the 8 inch wheels are still spinning freely. Sadly one of the hubcaps on the trailer was a casualty of the first half our trip and the abysmal conditions of the highways in the  Northeast.

Cranberry Bog near Taunton Mass.

Tomorrow, July 4, we begin our journey west. That seems somehow fitting. We hope to get as far as Western Massachusetts and perhaps even Eastern New York State. I've been assured that the roads will not be as crowded and that they should be in better condition than what we have recently experienced. I hope you'll stay along for the ride.

Early Yellowstone Trail Marker


  1. Happy Independence Day, Bill and Linda.

    Yep, we're along for the ride. Looking forward to more history and humor.

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