This book was finished quite some time ago and the dates and times have probably changed. You can use the internet to get the most recent information.
This unique travel/history book, ten years in the making, complements an earlier book Discovering the Mid-Atlantic: Historical Tours. Similar to that volume this day-tripping book uses chronological order, instead of geographical area, as an organizing device. The book can be read from cover to cover as one would read a history book, but this is history in its broadest sense, including art, literature, technology, politics, transportation, and many other subjects. The advantage of this approach is that it allows the traveler to view sites in their historical context, and thus more fully appreciate them. Visiting these sites, you will have a fuller, richer understanding of American life as lived in the region. The sites run a gamut from early English settlements to houses belonging to Presidents John F. Kennedy and George Herbert Walker Bush.
Although the book focuses on sites from a given historical period, it also provides geographic perspective through its maps, and a geographic cross-reference that locates all the sites existing within a given area. At the end of each chapter there are additional cross-references to other places to visit in the locale. You can either make separate day trips to a particular geographic area or stay several days (or weeks) and see many (or all) of the sites at one time.
Although the book covers American history as revealed in the region, area sites do not exist for every important trend or event in American history. Therefore, not all of the nation's history is available for viewing in the area. Also, the historical attractions that do exist unevenly cover different periods of time. For instance, there are proportionally more sites dealing with the Revolutionary War in general, and George Washington in particular, because Americans have saved more of the buildings associated with Washington and the Revolution. In contrast, there are very few Civil War sites with no battlefields at all.
In addition, the preservation of America's past by the various historical associations is not consistent or representative of all groups and all periods. The book has made allowances for this by finding places representative of most of the major historical periods--sites that you might otherwise overlook because of their out-of-the-way location or lack of sponsorship by a good historical association.
In preparing this book I used many sources. In addition to actually visiting the sites and recording my impressions, I gathered pamphlets, purchased the local area or site histories, made constant trips to book stores, and did extensive library research. Especially useful were biographies (to add interesting detail), specialty books covering such subjects as architecture, furniture, art, railroads, and ironmaking, and general histories.
One of the aspects of the book, about which I am most proud, is its organization. Just by reading the table of contents one gets a quick overall perspective on how the various sites fit into a larger context. Then each chapter tells an expanded story--a story which will interest readers and at the same time, effectively integrate the sites with the lives of the people or trends associated with them. This story telling quality makes the book readable from end to end. If this book helps the traveler position the sites within an historical context, and fosters an appreciation of our American heritage, my labors will be rewarded.
How to Use the Book
Travelers often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information presented to them at travel sites. I started writing this book when I got tired of being confused. To prevent similar feelings, you should read and reflect upon the appropriate chapter(s) before starting your journey. This helps build anticipation and excitement. It also gives you extra time by providing the needed information to set up your trip and to understand the historical meaning and significance of the sites. For instance, you will already know a great deal about canals, so you can more readily understand the exhibits at canal parks.
The book is especially helpful for parents. It gives them the necessary information to help their children get more involved in the region around them. Hopefully, you will use the information to, for instance, bring a battlefield to life. Too many people see battlefields as uninteresting places simply because they do not know anything of the battle's actual events. There is the added benefit that your children will think you're real smart! How else could you know all those interesting details?
If you are just beginning to tour the area, start chronologically and gradually and systematically increase your knowledge of history, technology, architecture, and furniture. Try to visit at least two sites per section. If you are going to stay in one particular location for awhile, use the geographic cross-reference to locate all the sites in that area. You can also use the "Other Sites to Visit" section at the end of each chapter.
A good recommendation is to purchase detailed maps of the areas you visit. Even though the book gives directions, there is no substitute for a highly detailed map.
Especially in these days of budget cuts, the opening and closing times for the various sites are always changing. Moreover, new sites become available for viewing through such activities as restoration or reconstruction. For lesser known sites, it is always a good idea to telephone ahead. Current state travel guides, available free of charge from the state travel bureaus, are invaluable. The state travel agencies will also send listings of planned events for the different seasons. Here are the addresses:
Connecticut Tourism Office
99 Kings Highway
Hartford, Connecticut 19903
Toll free: (800) 441-8846
Division of Travel and Tourism
State of Massachusetts
20 West State Street
Boston, MA 08625
Toll free: (800)
The information in the book is correct to the best of my ability and to the time of publication. No one, of course, can trace such large-scale trends and not make mistakes.
I would like to thank my wife Rosemary for her support and her interest in photography. I would also like to thank Neil Soderstrom for his editorial advice and encouragement. And another big thank-you to the workers and volunteers at the various historical sites that help preserve the region's and the nation's heritage.
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