MASSACHUSETTS, the Pilgrim State

What to see

Salem The Salem Witches
Plymouth The Plimoth Plantation - the Mayflower II
Cape Cod touristic island
Articles the Salem Witches | Thanksgiving
Other pages other states | articles


cover new england

This is an extract of the main sights in this state, with small photos. You will find the full description and full-sized photos in my e-book View America: New England

In the travel series View America, this book describes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Each state is described with its own brief historical background and its main sights, points of interest and tourist attractions.

It is not a traditional travel story, but a non-commercial and more or less objective chronicle of an in-depth exploration of these states. My book does not describe lodgings, restaurants or entertainment, except where these may interact with the narrative. It is illustrated with more than 100 full-sized photos.



MASSACHUSETTS is also called the Pilgrim State, the Puritan State and the Bay State, after Massachusetts Bay, where the original Puritan colony was established. The name Massachusetts probably comes from an Algonquin town. It is one of the thirteen original colonies, with a remarkable history. In 1788 Massachusetts joined the US as the sixth state. The capital and largest city is Boston.

The surface is approximately 24,000 km2. At the time of the colonization, Massachusetts was almost completely forested. By 1840, only about 20% of these forests remained, but thanks to an intensive replanting policy they increased to 60%. There are approximately six million inhabitants, with a density of 314 per km2, which is the third highest density after New Jersey and Rhode Island. Eighty-four percent of the population lives in cities.

Massachusetts has always been a forerunner. In 1889, the first electric tram ran from Boston to Cambridge. In 1897, the first subway was built in Boston, and they also had the first telegraph and the first telephone by Alexander Graham Bell, and the Morse Code.

Plymouth is the site of the first colony, and it sports a reconstruction of the original Mayflower and the first village in the Plimoth Plantation. Lake Chaubunagungamaug near Webster is usually called Lake Webster, because the original Algonquin name is so difficult to pronounce. This is probably the longest place name in North America!



Salem : the Salem Witches

In Salem, the main attraction is the Salem Witch museum, where a detailed if rather static representation of the trial can be attended. The background of this tragedy is that the Salem Village congregation had always been rather quarrelsome, and that for years there were many disputes between neighbors. There had been rumors of witchcraft in neighboring villages, and in January 1692, the daughter and the niece of Reverend Parris became ill. The girls screamed, threw things about, uttered strange sounds, and crawled all over the place.

Doctor William Griggs was unable to discover the cause of the illness, and after other girls showed similar symptoms, he suggested a diagnosis of possession and witchcraft... This extraordinary conclusion, coupled with the "standing" of the Reverend and the doctor, was enough to develop the situation into a sad string of events, whereby nineteen people were hanged, one man was crushed, and seven others died in prison ! Hundreds of others saw their lives completely upset or destroyed.

The fanatical Puritans strongly believed in the existence of the devil and witchcraft. Since their leaders had both clerical and administrative power, they brought the matter directly to court. Soon, more than hundred and fifty people from surrounding villages were accused by the girls. These were immediately imprisoned for witchcraft, in anticipation of a "fair" trial. Read the story of the Salem Witches.

the Salem Witch museum 1 the Salem Witch museum 2
Salem the Salem Witch trial

Plymouth: the Mayflower II

The Mayflower II is docked at the Plymouth quays. This ship is a true reconstruction of the original Mayflower, that landed in 1620. The craft was completely reconstructed in 1955, according to historical data. In 1957 it actually made the very same trip over the ocean !

The ship is thirty meters long, and was literally stuffed with one hundred and two colonists and crew. They remained at sea for more than sixty days, packed like herrings in a barrel !... Eating, sleeping and ventilation happened in shifts, and as to the sanitary facilities, we might as well not venture too deeply into those...

the Mayflower II - 1 the Mayflower