Minute Man National Historical Park – Lincoln, Lexington & Concord, Massachusetts
Minute Man National Historical Park was the site of the first battle of the 1775 American Revolution. The first shot fired on this site that day by an unknown person was what later inspired Ralph Waldo Emerson to refer to the moment as the “shot heard round the world”. It was popularized throughout the years. This historic event, known as the “Battles of Lexington and Concord”, spread over 16 miles from Boston to Concord.
The park, established in September 21, 1959 was named after the American militia volunteers called the Minute Men. The park commemorates the beginning of the battle in the American War of Independence. It encompasses 970 acres, which preserve and protect significant historic sites associated with the battle and its landscape.
The park also supports a variety of habitats, home to many species of plants, birds, reptiles and other wild animals including white-tailed deer. So, you can enjoy the historic and natural parts of the park at the same time.
WHERE TO START?
Are you planning to explore the whole park or just parts of it? Depending on how much time you want to spend in the park is a matter of choice. There are two visitor centers in the park. The North Bridge Visitor Center is located along Liberty Street in Concord. The Minute Man Visitor Center is located near the eastern entrance of the park, along N. Great Road/2A in Lincoln. Inside is a multimedia theater program called “The Road to Revolution”. It runs every 30 minutes. It's advisable to start here, watch the program and get a brochure before exploring the park. If you are driving from Boston, the park is about a 30 minute-drive.
THE MINUTE MAN STATUE
If you begin at the North Bridge, standing adjacent to the bridge is the Minute Man statue. Every visitor probably stops to take pictures here. We did, as you can see on the picture below! The statue was created in 1874 by Daniel Chester French, an American sculptor. He won the contest for the battle's 100th anniversary in 1875. The statue was made out of bronze from melted civil war cannons. The statue does not represent a particular person but it represents a typical farmer who left his farm and picked up a musket to defend his land and liberty. It is said that these men were ready to "fight at a minute's notice" - hence the name.
This statue is used as the logo of the National Guard. It is also shown on the 2000 Massachusetts quarter, as well as on U.S. Savings Bonds and War Bonds during WWII.
THE NORTH BRIDGE
The famous North Bridge, also called the Old North Bridge, is where colonial commanders ordered militia men to fire back at the British troops on April 19, 1775. The site of the first battle. The current bridge, built in 1956 spanning the Concord River, is an approximate replica of the original bridge. It was the fifth bridge built since the original 1775 “battle bridge” which was taken down in 1788. The current bridge was extensively restored in 2005. As you walk on this bridge, imagine the British troops and militia men standing here. facing each other. Well, they actually do reenactments of the event here, so check the park's calendar of events to find when.
The Concord River flowing under the North Bridge is a 16.3 mile long tributary of the Merrimack River. Native Americans called it the Musketaquid or “grass grown” river because the sluggish water abounds with aquatic vegetation while the banks are covered with wild grasses and sedges.
THE OLD MANSE HOUSE
Nearby, on the banks of Concord River is the Old Manse House, built in 1770. It was built for patriot minister William Emerson. Later, it was home to some well-known literary persons such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, a 19th century American essayist and poet, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, an American novelist. Their resting places can be found at the Authors Ridge/Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord.
THE ROBBINS HOUSE
Check out the Robbins House before, or after, visiting the North Bridge; it is located near the parking lot. The Robbins House is a two-family home built in the 1800s by the children (son and daughter and their family) of slavery survivor and Revolutionary War veteran Caesar Robbins. His daughter, Susan Garrison, was a founding member of the Concord Female Antislavery Society. His grand daughter, Ellen Garrison, went on to become a social activist and teacher.
- HISTORIC TRAIL -
THE BATTLE ROAD TRAIL - 5 miles
So, taking the Battle Road Trail, you can choose at which end you want to start. One Battle Road trailhead is at Meriam’s Corner, along Lexington Road/N. Great Road (2A) in Concord. The eastern end of the park is at the corner of Old Massachusetts Ave. and Wood St. in Lexington. This trail connects various historic sites and buildings such as Farwell Jones House, Olive Stow House, Samuel Brooks House, Brooks Village, Job Brooks House, Hartwell Tavern, Samuel Hartwell House, Captain William Smith House, Paul Revere Capture Site and others. The Hartwell Tavern, a restored 18th century tavern, today a historic house museum, is staffed by park rangers wearing costumes of that era. If you visit in summer, the staff demonstrate a musket firing in the paddock.
The park is free to visit. The visitor centers are closed in winter.
While in Concord, don't forget to explore the beautiful historic town.