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A "Revolutionary" Place to Visit: The Old North Bridge in Concord, MA

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Article and photo by Eric H. 

Old North Bridge, Concord, MA

(CONCORD, MA, New England USA) -- The scenic and serene grounds at the Old North Bridge contrast with its violent past where local Minutemen experienced its first American Revolutionary War victory by forcing the British to retreat back to Boston on April 19, 1775.

The Old North Bridge location, famous for the "shot heard around the world," today seems more like a peaceful walker's oasis with the placid Concord River, a quiet country path leading to "secret gardens" and the stately visitor center known as the Buttrick Mansion. As part of the U.S. National Park Service's Minute Man National Historical Park network of historical attractions around Concord and Lexington, the Old North Bridge makes for a special visit -- full of rural personality and historical significance. We consider this location one of New England's finest attractions, in part due to something that can't ever be written into words. You just have to be there to catch the incredible feeling of this famed area.

The quarter mile walk starts with a path leading to the reconstructed Old North Bridge, which seems infinitely more stable and safe than its rickety-old predecessor, "The Bridge." Before crossing the bridge, we encourage you to note the grave of two British Soldiers who died during the North Bridge fight, with a passage from James Russell Lowell's 1849 poem, Lines:

They  came three thousand miles and died,

To keep the past upon its throne.

Unheard beyond the ocean tide,

Their English mother made her moan

The famous 1836 Monument, commemorating the Battle here in 1775, majestically resides before the bridge. Crossing the bridge (affording beautiful views of the Concord River) is Daniel Chester French's Minuteman Statue that includes a stanza from Ralph Waldo Emerson's legendary Concord Hymn:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard 'round the world.

The neat gravel path --with some old, dignified beech trees along the way -- leads to the Buttrick Estate "Secret Gardens." This intricately laid our network of paved stones and steps offers beautifully terraced gardens and more views of the Concord River, making it the perfect retreat after a busy day. The Gardens don't seem to be cared for as much as in the past, but you'll still catch enough of the irises, peonies, columbine and rhododendron that highlight this special place.

Beyond the gardens is the Buttrick Mansion, which was built in 1991 by descendants of Maj. John Buttrick, who first told his Soldiers to fire upon the British. The estate is an elegant brick mansion that houses a book store and exhibits as well as offering a short video about the fight at the North Bridge.

The Old North Bridge is close to the 1769 Old Manse, best known as the residence of Nathaniel Hawthorne (yes, they rented). A 10-minute walk leads to colorful downtown Concord, which includes historic Monument Square, many fine local shops and restaurants and a remarkable concentration of well-maintained Colonial era buildings and homes. You can't get any more "New England" than this.

Read more about Concord, MA, and find lodging in the area

More information on Minute Man National Historical Park at the National Park Service Web Site

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