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18 SURPRISING MASSACHUSETTS NATIONAL PARKS (+ Photos)

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Massachusetts national parks
Massachusetts National Parks

Massachusetts National Parks

So much history. So many incredible historic sites. We’ve got Massachusetts National Parks! In this article, we feature all of the incredible park sites in the great state of Massachusetts. We’ve got 18 national park sites for you to see on your next visit to the Cradle of Liberty.

These Massachusetts National Parks include amazing historic sites, incredible monuments, beautiful parks, legendary trails, and so much more.

While Massachusetts has many national park sites, I should note that it doesn’t actually have any congressionally designated “National Parks”. Nonetheless, there are a whole host of amazing Massachusetts National Park Service sites to visit.

We’ll give you 18 reasons why you’ll want to make Massachusetts your next vacation destination.

Massachusetts National Parks Table Of Contents

  1. Adams National Historical Park
  2. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
  3. Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
  4. Boston National Historical Park
  5. Boston African-American National Historic Site
  6. Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
  7. Cape Cod National Seashore
  8. Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site
  9. John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
  10. Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site
  11. Lowell National Historical Park
  12. Minute Man National Historical Park
  13. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
  14. New England National Scenic Trail
  15. Salem Maritime National Historic Site
  16. Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
  17. Springfield Armory National Historic Site
  18. Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail

Adams National Historical Park | Massachusetts National Parks
Adams National Historical Park | Massachusetts National Parks (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

1. Adams National Historical Park

As a retired history teacher I like nothing better than to pack up my car and head off in search of America’s past. And nowhere does history play a more prominent role than in the state which became the center of activity leading up to the American Revolution.

When it comes to American history, no family has played a more prominent role over four generations than the Adams Family. Adams National Historical Park tells the story of these four generations of Adams (from 1720 to 1927).

The park has two main sites: the Birthplaces of the 2nd U.S. President John Adams and the 6th U.S. President John Quincy Adams, and Peacefield including the “Old House,” home to four generations of the Adams family, and the Stone Library which contains more than 14,000 historic volumes.

Things To Do & See At The Adams National Historical Park

Garden at Peace Field | Massachusetts National Parks
The formal garden at Peace field | Courtesy of the National Park Service

If you haven’t visited before then I recommend beginning your adventure at the Visitor Center. There’s a wonderful bookstore at the center. You can also see the 26-minute park orientation film, “Enduring Legacy: Four Generations of the Adams Family.”

The Birthplaces of John Adams and John Quincy Adams are located at 133 Franklin St. The homes are currently closed, but visitors can walk these historic grounds.

You can also explore the United First Parish Church, 1306 Hancock St. across the street from the Visitor Center. Tours include the history and architecture of the building and the Adams Family crypt; the final resting place of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, and First Ladies Abigail and Louisa Catherine Adams.


The Appalachian Trail | Massachusetts National Parks
View of the Appalachian Trail at the top of Peter’s Mountain on the border of Virginia and West Virginia | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

2. Appalachian National Scenic Trail

It’s the longest hiking trail in the world. And, it begins or ends (depending on your perspective) in Georgia or Maine. Either way, it’s quite an adventure even if you only hike a part of it.

The Appalachian National Scenic Trail is a marked hiking trail that runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Just how long a hike is that? Approximately 2,200 miles.

The original concept for the Appalachian Trail was the brainchild of Benton MacKaye. MacKaye was a forester, planner and social reformer who wrote a 1921 article in the Journal of the American Institute of Architects first proposing it.

Benton MacKaye

Benton MacKaye envisioned the Appalachian Trail | Georgia National Parks
The longest trail in the world was the brainchild of forester, planner and social reformer Benton MacKaye | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In MacKaye’s original vision, the Appalachian Trail would put back together the various parts of American life that were rapidly coming undone in the early 20th century.

It would fuse leisure and industry, environment and labor, community development and wilderness preservation into an interrelated project.

“Let us assume the existence of a giant standing high on the skyline along these mountain ridges, his head just scraping the floating clouds. What would he see from this skyline as he strode along its length from north to south?”

-Benton MacKaye

Giving City Dwellers An Escape

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Benton MacKay wanted to give city dwellers an escape

MacKaye wanted to give city dwellers an escape from their humdrum urban existences. His bold proposal was nothing less than a wholesale reinvention of social life, economic organization, and land use.

The trail was built by private citizens and completed in 1937. It is managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, numerous state agencies and thousands of volunteers.

It’s a truly magnificent hiking trail traversing the scenic, wooded, pastoral and wild lands of the Appalachian Mountains.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Harvey-Sutton-Appalachin-Trail-Courtesy-of-Josh-Sutton.webp
In July of 2021, five year-old Harvey Sutton became the youngest ever to hike the complete Appalachian Trail | Courtesy of Josh Sutton

3. Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park | Massachusetts National Parks

Visitors walking past the Sylvanus Brown House | Massachusetts National Parks
Visitors walking past the Sylvanus Brown House at the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park | Courtesy of NPS

Massachusetts National Parks offers different historical snapshots of America’s past. At the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park, visitors can learn about how the Age of Industry shaped America’s development as a nation.

The Blackstone River Valley of Massachusetts and Rhode Island is the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. It’s the place where America made the transformation from Farm to Factory.

In 1790 the forces of capital, ingenuity, mechanical know-how and skilled labor came together at Pawtucket, Rhode Island where the Blackstone River provided the power that kicked off America’s drive to industrialization. (Source: NPS)

Things To See At Blackstone River

Map of Slatersville Mills, 1894
Drawing of Slatersville Mills, 1894 | Courtesy of NPS

At Blackstone River there are three wonderful self-guided walking tours. They include:

  1. Hopewell Walking Tour: Founded in 1841 as a small communal association of Practical Christians who advocated temperance, abolition, women’s rights, Christian socialism, and non-violence, Hopedale evolved into a paternalistic model company town.
  2. Slatersville Walking Tour: Slatersville is America’s first planned industrial village.
  3. Whitinsville Walking Tour: Whitinsville presents a remarkably complete picture of one of the distinctive by-products of the Industrial Revolution in New England: the company town. Maintained and controlled by the Whitin family for over 100 years, Whitinsville today reveals its evolution from agrarian settlement to industrial giant, and offers a fascinating glimpse of the powerful family behind it all. (Source: NPS)

RELATED: Acadia National Park


Bronze sidewalk marker medallion with words The Freedom Trail Boston. Weathervane bas relief is in center.
The Freedom Trail | Massachusetts Historical Parks (Courtesy of NPS)

4. Boston National Historical Park

Boston was considered the Cradle of Liberty and the heartbeat of the American Revolution. It’s one city that’s chock full of fascinating places to go and exciting things to see beginning with the Freedom Trail.

The Freedom Trail is an iconic symbol of Boston. Its red brick line snakes through some of the oldest parts of the City, navigating visitors to some of the most significant historic sites in the Downtown, North End, and Charlestown neighborhoods of Boston. 

Points of interest along the freedom trail include: Old Corner Bookstore, USS Constitution, USS Constitution Museum, Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial, Bunker Hill Monument, Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, Boston Common, Boston Massacre Site, USS Cassin Young, Old State House, Park Street Church, King’s Chapel Burying Ground, Faneuil Hall, Old North Church, Paul Revere House, Granary Burying Ground, Massachusetts State House and much much more.


Boston African-American National Historic Site | Massachusetts National Parks
Six men in blue wool uniforms stand beneath a bronze monument of a man on a horse, with soldiers surrounding him.
Boston African American National Historic Site: Men dressed as Union soldiers pose by the Shaw Memorial in Boston. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

5. Boston African-American National Historic Site | Massachusetts National Parks

The struggle against racial injustice has been a long one. The African American community of 19th century Boston led the both the city and the nation in this fight against slavery and racial injustice.

These remarkable men and women, together with their allies, were leaders in the Abolition Movement, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, and the early struggle for equal rights and education.

The Boston African-American National Historic Site celebrates their bravery and heroism. This story features the Black Freedom Trail which is an approximately 1.5 mile long trail linking sites that explore the trials of the free black community which inhabited the North Slope of Beacon Hill from the late 18th century through the 19th century. 

I recommend visiting the Museum of African American History. It’s located in the former Abiel Smith School. Visitors come away with a better understanding of and appreciation for the struggles and sacrifices made by African Americans to bring about a more perfect union.

“Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S.; let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on the earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States.”

– Frederick Douglass, “Address for the Promotion of Colored Enlistments, delivered at a mass meeting in Philadelphia, July 6, 1863.”

Gravel trail leading towards visitor center and dock.
Spectacle Island which is part of the Boston Islands National Recreation Area | Courtesy of the National Park Service

6. Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

With 34 islands and peninsulas, Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park offers experiences for all to enjoy.

At Georges Island, you’ll have the opportunity to step back in time by visiting Fort Warren, a Civil-War era fort and National Historic Landmark.

At Spectacle Island, you can walk the drumlins and enjoy spectacular views of the city and other islands from the highest point in the harbor.


7. Cape Cod National Seashore | Massachusetts National Parks

Cape Cod National Seashore | Massachusetts National Parks
Cape Cod National Seashore | Courtesy of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Remember that wonderful song from Sweeney Todd? It was called “By The Sea.” The lyrics go like this:

By the sea, Mr. Todd, that’s the life I covet
By the sea, Mr. Todd, oh, I know you’d love it
You and me, Mr. T, we could be alone
In a house what we’d almost own
Down by the sea
Anything you say
Wouldn’t that be smashing?

In the case of Massachusetts National Parks, it’s not only about the history. You can go by the sea as well.

And there’s no sea prettier to go by than the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Things To Do At Cape Cod

Log stairs rise up next to a split rail fence and a large tree.
In addition to beautiful beaches, there are 11 miles of hiking trails at Cape Cod | Massachusetts National Parks (Photo courtesy of the NPS)

As the National Park Service notes, “Forty miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds, and uplands support diverse species. Lighthouses, cultural landscapes, and wild cranberry bogs offer a glimpse of Cape Cod’s past and continuing ways of life. Swimming beaches and walking and biking trails beckon today’s visitors.”

There’s so much to see and do. History is there if you want it. There are historic lighthouses and other landmarks of a time gone by.

Of course, if you’re like most people than the beach is calling you. Or should I say the beaches? There are six beautiful beaches to choose from–Coast Guard, Nauset Light, Marconi, Head of the Meadow, Race Point and Herring Cove.

Beach wheelchairs are available to borrow during the summer at Coast Guard and Herring Cove beaches, which are the two seashore beaches where parking is generally at beach level. The other beaches involve stairs (Marconi) or paths over dunes. (Source: NPS)

RELATED: 6 (EPIC) Maine National Parks For Your Next Visit To The Pine Tree State


House and landscape at Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site | Massachusetts National Parks
Fairsted, the home and office of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted | Courtesy of the NPS

8. Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site | Massachusetts National Parks

As Justin Martin notes in his masterful biography titled, Genius Of Place, “Olmstead is best remembered as the pioneer of landscape architecture in the United States. He created New York City’s Central Park and a number of green spaces, often in collaboration with his sometime partner Calvert Vaux.”

Frederick Law Olmstead designed the grounds of scores of private estates, Stanford and assorted college campuses, several mental institutions, and a pair of cemeteries. For these achievements alone, he would have achieved a measure of lasting fame.

Olmstead, however, accomplished much more than this. He was a dedicated environmentalist who played an important role in the efforts to preserve Yosemite and Niagara Falls.

He also designed Boston’s Back Bay Fens as both a park and as America’s first wetlands restoration.

“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation,” said Aristotle.

“Olmstead’s talents were many and various. He’d been a sailor, farmer, journalist, and abolitionist–and that’s just a partial list.

As for what the world needed, it was parks, more parks. Olmstead and Vaux now found themselves inundated with requests from various cities around the United States.”

-Justin Martin, Genius Of Place

Things To Do At The Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site

Frederick Law Olmstead | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

At the Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site visitors can take a tour through the country’s first full-scale landscape architecture office.

A guided tour will take you through the Historic Design Office where ideas were expressed through the creation of plans, drawings, photographs and other materials which were then used to build landscapes across the nation.

After the tour, you can explore the self-guided exhibits and learn more about the wide spectrum of work and happenings of the Olmsted office.


9. John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site | Massachusetts National Parks

John F. Kennedy NHS preserves the birthplace of America’s 35th president. In 1967, the president’s mother returned here, where Kennedy spent his boyhood, and restored the house to her recollection of its 1917 appearance. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

America’s 35th President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, was responsible for some extraordinary accomplishments. The most important, and most famous, was his adept management of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, widely considered the most perilous moment since World War II.

Kennedy’s skillful handling of this crisis averted a nuclear conflict between the superpowers. In the end, a peaceful agreement was reached. 

He also proposed a voting-rights bill and federal programs to provide health care to the elderly and the poor.

Kennedy was the youngest man ever elected to the presidency and arguably the most charismatic.

Through his stirring inaugural message to “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” he challenged young Americans to embrace public service and leave the world a better place than they found it.

Kennedy Began The Bipartisan Era Of Environmental Activism

John F. Kennedy would be the first of five presidents to embrace environmental activism | Bipartisan Environmental Activism
John F. Kennedy meets the press after the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

As a consequence of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking work titled, Silent Spring, people began to understand the risks associated with chemical pesticides.

Given these risks, public demanded accountability and action. And, as a consequence, our leaders began to act in a bipartisan way to provide long-term solutions.

We live in a scientific age, yet we assume that knowledge of science is the prerogative of only a small number of human beings, isolated and priest-like in their laboratories.

This is not true. The materials of science are the materials of life itself. Science is part of the reality of living; it is the what, the how, and the why of everything in our experience.

It is impossible to understand man without understanding his environment and the forces that have molded him physically and mentally.

-Rachel Carson

President Kennedy was asked whether the government needed to take a closer look at this issue. “Yes, of course, and since Miss Carson’s book, they are examining the issue.”

RELATED: This Woman Started The Modern Environmental Movement

An Important First Step

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Airplane Spraying Chemical Pesticides (Courtesy Of Wikimedia Commons)

President Kennedy appointed a committee to look into the problem. This led to the development of regulations on DDT and other dangerous chemicals.

Ultimately, DDT was banned in the United States.

Kennedy’s decision to put DDT under investigation was an important first step.

Government began considering the consequences of human actions on our environment. It was time to start taking meaningful actions to protect the public.

Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.

Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.

-President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Youth Conservation Corps

John F. Kennedy challenged a generation of Americans to get involved | Bipartisan Environmental Activism
It was President Kennedy who said, “The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet.” He preached the nobility of public service, encouraged young people to get involved, and set in motion a 20-year period of presidential activism on the environment. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

To respond to the growing environmental threat, President Kennedy proposed creation of the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC).

Kennedy saw public service as a way to make the world a better place.

According to the National Park Service who now oversees the program, The YCC engages young people in meaningful work experiences on national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and fish hatcheries while developing an ethic of environmental stewardship and civic responsibility.”

RELATED: Is It Time For Another Bipartisan Era Of Environmental Activism In America?

Things To Do At The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site

The front of 83 Beals St. The house is dappled with shadows from the trees.
83 Beals Street is the birthplace of John F. Kennedy | Massachusetts National Parks (Courtesy of the NPS)

The John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site can be explored in person or online.  Visitors to the site can explore the birthplace of America’s 35th president.

In 1967, the president’s mother returned here, where Kennedy spent his boyhood, and restored the house to her recollection of its 1917 appearance.


10. Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site

Longfellow National Historic Site | Massachusetts National Parks
Longfellow National Historic Site preserves the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the world’s foremost 19th century poets. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Longfellow National Historic Site preserves the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of the world’s foremost 19th century poets. His works included: Paul Revere’s Ride and The Song of Hiawatha.

During the Revolutionary War, the house also served as headquarters for General George Washington. It served as Washington’s Headquarters during the Siege of Boston, July 1775 – April 1776.

The site offers its visitors unique opportunities to explore the themes of 19th century literature and the arts.


11. Lowell National Historical Park

Lowell National Historic Park Headquarters | Massachusetts National Parks
Lowell National Historic Park Headquarters, Lowell, Massachusetts | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Industrial Revolution transformed economies that had been based on agriculture and handicrafts into economies based on large-scale industry, mechanized manufacturing, and the factory system. New machines, new power sources, and new ways of organizing work made existing industries more productive and efficient.

Ground Zero for this revolution in America were the water-powered textile mills at Lowell, Massachusetts. The Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center is a great place to learn about all of this while visiting some fascinating historical sites.

At the Visitor Center you can explore the history of the Spindle City through various exhibits. From the early industrial city to the modern local community, the Visitor Center highlights the stories of the people who lived and worked in Lowell.

Author and writer Jack Kerouac was a citizen of Lowell and his story is featured there as well.


12. Minute Man National Historical Park | Massachusetts National Parks

A Revolution begins – A Nation is born. At Minute Man National Historical Park the opening battle of the Revolution is brought to life as visitors explore the battlefields and witness the American revolutionary spirit through the writings of the Concord authors. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

As a lifelong history buff and former history teacher, I can’t resist a good lesson. I promise you that I’ll keep it short, however, and there’s no homework.

Militia were men in arms formed to protect their towns from foreign invasion and the ravages of war. Minutemen were a small hand-picked elite force which were required to be highly mobile and to able to assemble quickly in the event of a crisis.

These Minutemen were selected from militia muster rolls by their commanding officers. Typically 25 years of age or younger, they were chosen for their enthusiasm, reliability, and physical strength.

By the time of the American Revolution, Minutemen had been a well-trained force for six generations in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. As author and historian Hackett Fisher notes, “The muster of the Minutemen in 1775 was the product of many years of institutional development…it was also the result of careful planning and collective effort.”

Things To Do At Minute Man National Historical Park

Minute Man National Historical Park, Concord, Massachusetts | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

As the National Park Service notes, “Minute Man National Historical Park in Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord, Massachusetts, preserves and interpretes the sites, structures, and landscapes that became the field of battle during the first armed conflict of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775.”

The Minute Man Visitor Center includes a forty-foot mural that portrays the fighting between Colonists and British Regulars and artifacts from the Parker’s Revenge Archaeological investigation. Park Rangers are on duty to answer questions. 

While at the visitor center, you can get a map, schedule of programs and events and, for the children, a junior ranger booklet.

You can also explore exhibits about the beginning of the American Revolution, watch a multimedia theater presentation, and browse the museum store run by Eastern National.

Hike The Battle Road Trail

Minute Man Visitor Center lobby
The Minute Man Visitor Center | Courtesy of NPS

The park also offers a variety of guided programs to the public.

While you’re there, you can hike the Battle Road Trail.  It’s a five mile trail connecting historic sites from Meriam’s Corner in Concord to the eastern boundary of the park in Lexington.

RELATED: 2 (EPIC) New Hampshire National Parks For Your Visit To The Granite State


13. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park

New Bedford Whaling Museum & Harbor | Massachusetts National Parks
New Bedford Whaling Museum & Harbor | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In the mid-1700s, New Bedford, Massachusetts was developed as a port for whalers. These were the ships that went off to harpoon the whales from whom oil was used to light much of America. New Bedford’s whaling industry influenced its shoreside industry, fashion, architecture, and culture. 

Today visitors can experience this whaling tradition. Points of interest include:

  1. Charles W. Morgan: After its whaling days ended in 1921, the Morgan was preserved by Whaling Enshrined, Inc. and exhibited at Colonel Edward H.R. Green’s estate at Round Hill in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, until 1941. In November 1941, the Morgan sailed to Mystic Seaport where it has since been docked. The whaleship was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966.
  2. The U.S. Custom House: The U.S. Custom House in New Bedford is the oldest continually operating custom house in the country. Whaling masters of the past registered their ships and cargo in this building, while today’s commercial ships continue to log duties and tariffs here.
  3. Lewis Temple: Working as a blacksmith, African-American Lewis Temple created a tool that revolutionized the whaling industry. A monument honoring Temple stands in front of the New Bedford Free Public Library on Pleasant Street in New Bedford.

New England Province
Map of the New England National Scenic Trail | Courtesy of the National Park Service

14. New England National Scenic Trail | Massachusetts National Parks

The New England National Scenic Trail (NET) is a 215-mile hiking trail route that has been in existence for over half a century.  It extends from Long Island Sound across long ridges to scenic mountain summits in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

The trail offers panoramic vistas and close-ups of New England’s natural and cultural landscape: traprock ridges, historic village centers, farmlands, unfragmented forests, quiet streams, steep river valleys and waterfalls. (Source NPS)

RELATED: 3 (EPIC) Vermont National Parks For Your Visit To The Green Mountain State


15. The Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Salem Maritime National Historic Site | Massachusetts National Parks (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

Salem was once one of the most important ports in the nation. The historic buildings, wharves, and reconstructed tall ship at Salem Maritime National Historic Site tell the stories of the sailors, Revolutionary War privateers, and merchants who brought the riches of the Far East to America.

Established on March 17, 1938 as the first National Historic Site in the United States, this historic site consists of nine acres of land and twelve historic structures along the Salem waterfront, as well as a downtown visitor center.

The park preserves and interprets over 600 years of New England’s maritime history and global connections. (Source: NPS)

While you’re there, I recommend visiting the Salem Visitor Center, located on New Liberty Street in downtown Salem, which was originally the Salem Armory. It was the headquarters and training facility for the Second Corps of Cadets which traces its history back to the late eighteenth century.

And, if you’re on the hunt for souvenirs of your visit then you may want to check out the Waite & Peirce Park Store which offers a selection of products that are related to Salem’s place in the history of global trade.


16. Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site | Massachusetts National Parks

Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In our modern society, iron is the most important of all metals. It’s used to craft different types of steel which is used in a diverse array of applications. Imagine a world without it! Trust me, you wouldn’t want to.

Saugus Iron Works is a twelve-acre National Historic Site that includes working waterwheels, forges, mills, a historic 17th century home, and a lush river basin. It’s a place where European iron workers brought their skills to the New World.

Saugus includes a visitor center located within the Iron Works House annex and a Museum a short walk away. The site also includes the reconstructed blast furnace, forge, slitting mill, and warehouse, together with the original slag pile and several post-Hammersmith era structures.

While you’re there you can explore exhibits, watch the park film, and shop at a traditional park store


Weapons exhibit from the Springfield Armory National Historic Site | Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

17. Springfield Armory National Historic Site | Massachusetts National Parks

The Springfield Armory was a place where firearms were produced for the U.S. military for almost two centuries.

The Springfield Armory National Historic Site commemorates the critical role of the nation’s first armory by preserving and interpreting the world’s largest historic US military small arms collection, along with historic archives, buildings, and landscapes.

Points Of Interest At The Springfield Armory

The Main Arsenal Clocktower, with a flag high atop waving in the wind.
The Main Arsenal in September 1948 before the loading dock was added. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service.

The armory includes the following places of interest:

  1. Commanding Officers Quarters: The Commanding Officer’s Quarters housed the Superintendents and Commandants of Springfield Armory, beginning with Major James Ripley and ending with Lt. Colt C.B. Zumwalt when the Armory closed in April 1968.
  2. The Junior Officers Quarters: These quarters were listed in the Massachusetts Most Endangered Historic Resources. In 2017, the building underwent major restoration including rebuilding portions of the foundation and historic chimneys, as well as repointing the brickwork. 
  3. The Main Arsenal:  The place where arms could be stored and produced.
  4. Building 19:  It had multiple purposes including stabling horses and housing an x-ray lab and cryptography unit for sending and receiving coded messages, but its main purpose was storage of lumber.
  5. The Watershops: They were used to harness the dependable current of the Mill River, trip hammers, grindstones, and polishing discs shaped iron and steel. 
  6. Building 104: This was where the famed M1 rifle was mass produced as America prepared for its entry into the Second World War.

18. Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail

A statue of General Rochambeau on top of a pedestal. He is pointing into the distance. Another bronze statue is below him.
General Rochambeau Statue | Courtesy of the NPS

Washington’s ultimate success against the British was made possible through an alliance with France. On July 11, 1780, 55-year-old General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau arrived with an army of 450 officers and 5,300 men in Narragansett Bay off Newport, Rhode Island.

This marked the beginning of a most successful military cooperation that culminated 15 months later in the victory at Yorktown and the surrender of Lord Cornwallis and his troops.

From New Hampshire to Virginia, the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail connects major metropolitan areas, state and national parks, historic and scenic trails, and countless other historic sites.

The rout is a 680-mile series of roads used in 1781 by the Continental Army under the command of George Washington and the forces under the command of Admiral Rochambeau during their 14-week march from Newport, Rhode Island, to Yorktown, Virginia.  

Take A Deeper Dive

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Harvard University

To learn more about the Cradle of Liberty and its famous sons, I recommend reading the following books:

  1. John Adams by David McCullough.
  2. John Quincy Adams: American Visionary by Fred Kaplan.
  3. From Dream to Reality: History of the Appalachian Trail by Thomas Johnson.
  4. GREATER THAN A TOURIST- MINUTE MAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK MASSACHUSETTS USA: 50 Travel Tips from a Local by Kevin Vincent.
  5. Where Death and Glory Meet: Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and the 54th Massachusetts Infantry by Russell Duncan.
  6. Cape Cod Companion: The History and Mystery of Old Cape Cod by Jim Coogan.
  7. Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted by Justin Martin.
  8. An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917 – 1963 by Robert Dallek.
  9. A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House by Arthur Schlesinger.
  10. Minutemen and Their World by Robert A. Gross.
  11. Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route and the Franco-American Alliance by Donna Passmore and Jan Smulcer.

Map Of Massachusetts National Park Sites

Massachusetts National Park Sites

  1. Adams National Historical Park
  2. Appalachian National Scenic Trail
  3. Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park
  4. Boston National Historical Park
  5. Boston African-American National Historic Site
  6. Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
  7. Cape Cod National Seashore
  8. Frederick Law Olmstead National Historic Site
  9. John Fitzgerald Kennedy National Historic Site
  10. Longfellow House-Washington’s Headquarters National Historic Site
  11. Lowell National Historical Park
  12. Minute Man National Historical Park
  13. New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park
  14. New England National Scenic Trail
  15. Salem Maritime National Historic Site
  16. Saugus Iron Works National Historic Site
  17. Springfield Armory National Historic Site
  18. Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail

Tony Pattiz

Tony Pattiz is a retired history teacher currently researching and writing articles for More Than Just Parks.

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