Most American school children know the sweet, heartwarming story of the Pilgrims landing on Plymouth Rock. How they set sail in search of religious freedom and arrived directly at
When I used to hear the tale, I thought of a fairly decent sized rock – more a boulder. Something impressive.
Have you seen Plymouth Rock? It’s closer to a pebble than a boulder, and wasn’t noted (identified? claimed?) as the rock until over a hundred years after the Pilgrims landed. It’s rather a let down.
There is, however, a larger, more impressive rock that entered Pilgrim history before any rock in
When the Pilgrims, on the Mayflower, entered the area, they made a couple of stops along
The long boat set out, and the weather turned very bad. With the boat in a bit of trouble, the scouting group made it into the harbor area, but couldn’t make it to the actual shore. They landed, after dark in a storm in December, on a small island.
In the morning, the group went to a high spot on the island – a large glacial boulder – at which they held a vote among themselves whether to go to shore in this harbor and make a home or go back to the Mayflower and work their way further down the coast. After the election (in favor of the region, I might add), since it was a Sunday, they held a religious service. It was December 20, 1620.
Thus this large, glacial boulder is called “Election Rock” or “Pulpit Rock.”
Every year, the local rural and historical society hosts a picnic on the island. They arrange for a few launches from the harbor, but otherwise it’s an “if you can get there on your own” affair. They also arrange from brief remarks from a local clergy person.
We managed to get seats on one of the society’s launches this year and I took the kids out for the picnic. We were some of the first out there – and so I took them directly to the rock to climb and play. It’s a lovely walk from the temporary dock to the rock.
And truly – you can climb it.
The day was lovely. The remarks by the minister were appropriate and brief (in the mid-day sun), speaking of the efforts made to get to this place and holy ground. The inscription on the rock reads, “On the Sabboth Day wee rested 20 December 1620”.
We were invited to wander the island. People do still live out there in the summer, and the picnic happens with their cooperation. The historical society owns the island (bequeathed to the society in 1969 by a descendant of the original owners), but certain homes on the island have been used/leased/something by some families for generations. Their descendants have continued residency privileges, but I’m not sure what the legal status is for their structures. There is a small cemetery on the island, too. The gravestones are 200 years old.
It’s a beautiful island. Quiet, too, even with several dozen people wandering about.
Our day ended in a downpour when thunderstorms came rumbling through the area. We were soaked to the bone by the time we made it in to the harbor.
A sign next to the Plymouth Rock says something to the effect of, “It matters not where they landed, but that they did land and stayed.” I suppose that’s true.
But I’ll take Election Rock over Plymouth Rock any day.