Historic Walks - Plymouth Heritage Tour
Plymouth Heritage Trail
The New Hampshire Heritage Trail is a 230-mile, walking trail that stretches across New Hampshire, from its border with Massachusetts to its border with Canada. Originally authorized by the New Hampshire State Legislature in 1988 (RSA #216-A:7), the Heritage Trail has been established and maintained by the communities that use it. Following the main stems of the Merrimack, Pemigewasset, and Connecticut Rivers, the trail showcases the historic and scenic communities along their banks and links those communities together. The trail is a great recreational resource, offering areas for walking, jogging, biking, or cross-country skiing for people of all ages and abilities.
The New Hampshire Heritage Trail also provides environmental benefits to the participating communities by protecting the rivers, preserving the wildlife habitat, and maintaining the beauty of the natural landscape. The tourists who take advantage of the recreational resources offered by the trail are also adding to the economic vitality of the participating communities. Plymouth’s portion of the Heritage Trail, a 5.6 mile long walking loop with sixteen points of interest, was completed through a coordinated effort between the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, the Plymouth Regional Senior Center, Plymouth State College, and Town of Plymouth and Plymouth Parks & Recreation Department. For more information about the Trail, contact the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce at 536-1001.
Our town, Plymouth, has a rich historical and cultural heritage. Lawrence Thompson in his book Robert Frost: The Early Years, writes: “The natives of Plymouth were proud of its history.” And this pride is justified. Nathaniel Hawthorne, Daniel Webster, Robert Frost, and the Pemigewasset Indians have all played their part in the history of Plymouth. The Plymouth Heritage Trail has been established to give us all a sense of the past and an appreciation of our town’s history.
Starting your walking tour…
Suggested Trail hours are sunrise to sunset. Public parking is available at the Plymouth Regional Senior Center located on Green Street, behind Main Street. The trail begins north of the Senior Center on Green Street, past the new District Courthouse. Follow the brown Heritage Trail directional signs. Please use caution when walking the Trail. Due to its length, you may want to consider walking only a portion of the trail at one time.
Below is a guide detailing the distance between points of interest. Points of Interest on Plymouth’s Heritage Trail:
1. Plymouth Regional Senior Center/Railroad Depot: This building, originally constructed in 1909, was once a depot for the Boston and Maine Railroad. The railroad brought many vacationers from the Boston area to enjoy the skiing and the mountains of Northern New Hampshire. The old depot has undergone extensive remodeling and renovation and now serves as the community’s Senior Citizen Center. A tourist train now runs seasonally from Lincoln to Weirs Beach with stops in Plymouth.
2. D&M Building: This former Draper-Maynard Co. building, currently owned by Plymouth State University, is located on Main Street. Jason F. Draper and John F. Maynard built their original factory for manufacturing sporting goods in December 1900. That factory was destroyed by fire in 1910, and the current brick building was built in 1911. The Draper-Maynard Sporting Goods company was most famous for their baseball gloves. The Red Sox team visited the factory in 1916, which was memorialized by a now-classic photo of Babe Ruth sewing a cover on a baseball. Ruth endorsed and used D&M equipment throughout his career. The company went out of business in 1937 after over sixty years of manufacturing.
3. Asquamchumaukee Rock: Located on Route 3, the rock is in front of the Plymouth National Guard Armory. This area was home to the Pemigewasset Indians. A plaque on a low granite rock at this site explains: Asquamchumaukee was the name of the Baker River in the language of the Pemigewasset Indians (meaning “crooked water from high places”). Here was the site of their Indian village. On these meadows they cultivated corn. In the sandy banks of the river they stored their furs. In March, 1712, Lieutenant Thomas Baker and thirty scouts destroyed the village and killed many Indians including the chief, Watermummus.
4. Ward Hill: In 1764, this area was the home of Rev. Nathan Ward, the first religious and legal advisor in the township of Plymouth. Pioneer preferred West Plymouth for their settlement due to its immense hardwood trees and rich soil. Legend holds that the poet Robert Frost often walked Ward Hill during the evening hours. His poem, Good Hours, written in Plymouth in 1912, grew out of one of these evening walks. I had for my winter evening walk No one at all with whom to talk But I had the cottages in a row Up to their shining eyes in snow.
5. Frost Cottage: Robert Frost taught education and psychology from 1911 to 1912 in Rounds Hall on the campus of Plymouth Normal School, now known as Plymouth State University. While at Plymouth, Frost wrote many poems. According to local legend, an encounter in a Plymouth woods gave him the inspiration for “The Road Not Taken.” The cottage is located on the corner of School Street and a campus walkway (formerly Highland Avenue).
6. Round’s Hall: Built in 1891 as the home of the Plymouth Normal School. The bell in the tower was cast by William Blake and Co., an apprentice of Paul Revere. Round’s Hall is now the visual symbol of Plymouth State University.
7. Plymouth Historical Society: This building, one of the oldest in Plymouth (1774), has been relocated three times during its long history. Originally this building was the Grafton County Courthouse and the place where statesman Daniel Webster earned his first lawyer fees in 1806. In 1876, Senator Henry W. Blair restored this building and had it relocated to its present site. Presented to the Young Ladies Library Association, this building served as the library for Plymouth for 125 years.
8. Holme’s Rock: This rock marks the site of Holmes Plymouth Academy, established in 1808. It was named in honor of Colonel Samuel Holmes of Campton, NH, a Revolutionary soldier who gave $50 toward the Academy’s foundation. In 1837, the Academy became the first training school for teachers in New Hampshire. In 1871, the Academy buildings were presented to the state and Plymouth Normal School opened. Plymouth Teachers’ College was established in1939. In 1963 the school became Plymouth State College of the University System of NH and in 2004, Plymouth State University.
9. Silver Cultural Arts Center: This site was formerly a stop on the underground railroad for movement of escaped slaves to Canada. Today the Center houses PSC’s Department of Music & Theatre and is the region’s performing art showcase.
10. Plymouth Town Hall: Constructed in 1889, this building served as the Grafton County Courthouse and the former district court for many years. Now it houses the town’s public offices. The cannon in front of the Town Hall is believed to have been used by the British in the Battle of Bennington on August 16, 1777 and was captured by General John Stark.
11. Plymouth Congregational Church: On April 16, 1764, 62 men from Hollis, NH Congregational Church traveled north to accept the Charter for the Grant of Plymouth. The granters were obliged to set up a grist mill, a saw mill, build roads, bridges, a meetinghouse and provide a salary for a minister. In 1769, the original log meetinghouse was built on Ward Hill in1788. In 1819, the Plymouth Congregational Church was incorporated and built on this site in 1836. The current building was erected in 1985 following a fire, which destroyed the 145-year-old church.
12. Plymouth Common: See three points of interest: • the kneeling Boy Scout is a 1933 sculpture by George Borst and is believed to be one of only two Boy Scout statues in the United States. • The plaque embedded in the granite rock pays tribute to Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), the American romantic writer, who gained inspiration from this community. • The Bandstand: Built in 1903, the bandstand is based upon a design by the grandson of New England’s first architect, Charles Bulfinch (Faneuil Hall).
13. Pease Public Library: On this site was the Pease House where Captain Harl Pease, Jr. lived. Captain Pease, a World War II aviator for whom Pease Air Force Base was named, was killed in action. He was awarded the highest honor, the Congressional medal, posthumously. The present library opened its door on February 13, 1991.
14. Fox Pond Park: This park was named for developer Plummer Fox, who built the dam and constructed the ice houses. The water of Hazeltine Brook was considered to be very pure, and the ice was purchased by the Boston and Maine Railroad to cool the drinking water of its passengers. After electric refrigerators eliminated demand for ice, the park was purchased by the town to be used for recreation.
For more information contact the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce at 603-536-1001. www.plymouthnh.org