On Cole's Hill, Plymouth, MA

Walking in the Footsteps of the Pilgrim Forefathers by Midge Frazel, Mayflower Descendant

Many visitors come to Plymouth to visit Plimoth Plantation without knowing that along the waterfront there are many important historical landmarks to see. Come with me (virtually, of course) to view and learn about some of these places. Let's begin with the most well-known landmark.

Plymouth Rock is the most often visited landmark on the waterfront.

photograph of Plymouth Rock by Midge Frazel, 2004

It is doubtful as to whether anyone who arrived on the Mayflower ever set foot on this hunk of granite. Deeply rooted in legend, it remains here today to serve as a memorial to those "First Comers" who bravely crossed the ocean. It is covered by a canopy and is the smallest state park in our Nation. The Rock is made of granite, uniquely found in this area of New England , and is about 1/3 of the size that it was in that time due to its many adventures. Jean Fritz, a noted children's author, has humorously and accurately told this story in her book, "Who's That Stepping on Plymouth Rock?" [This book is a great read for young and old.] The Rock is set deeply down under the canopy to protect it from vandals and yet keep it close to the ocean.


photograph of the Rock by Midge Frazel, 2004

The canopy is the second one to be protecting the Rock. The first canopy  was created by Hammett Billings. The cornerstone was laid in 1859 and completed in 1867.  The bones of the Pilgrims that washed down the hillside were placed in a box and put in the roof of the canopy overlooking the Rock (in 1867) until Dec 14, 1920 when they were removed because of the construction of the new canopy. [New York Times article] The bones, which washed down the hill in a great rainstorm in 1735 were gathered up and placed in a metallic box.

 In 1920, a new canopy was erected over the Rock. It was comissioned by the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America and remains today. The weather at the location of the Rock is harsh and over the years, the canopy has been in need of repair.  This canopy is called the Tercentenary canopy which means a celebration of three hundred years.

photograph of Plymouth Rock canopy by Midge Frazel, 2004 

Many poems, songs and pagents have imortalized this symbol. Many Native Americans protest the celebration of the landing of the Pilgrims and have their own monument to inform the public about their views. They feel that the coming of the Forefather's was the day that forever changed their way of life. This monument pictured here represents their National Day of Mourning and is located on Cole's Hill.

photograph of National Day of Mourning Monument by Midge Frazel, 2004

The street that runs along the waterfront is named Water Street and the hill directly opposite the Rock is called Cole's Hill.

photograph of Cole's Hill by Midge Frazel, 1999

 This steep hill is home to many monuments. At the top of the stone steps is the monument to James Cole.

photograph of James Cole's monumnet by Midge Frazel, 2004 

James Cole was an innkeeper who came to America in the 1630s. The inn was not located on this spot.  This is a memorial marker to him as he was a soldier in the Pequot War. It was erected by his descendants in his memory.

Visitor's can rest on this stone bench after climbing the staircase and look out over the water.  This bench was erected in 1927 in memory of the Pilgrim Fathers.

photograph of the stone bench by Midge Frazel, 2004

The Sarchophagus Monument erected to the memory of those who perished the first winter holds the remains gathered over the years either from the rainstorm or by excavation. Placed inside this sarcophagus in a plain pine box sealed inside a waterproof box are those remains. This monument was erected by the Genearl Society of Mayflower Descendants in 1920. Their names, a quote from the diary of Wm. Bradford and inscription about how the original bodies may have been buried marks this important and impressive monument.

Photo by Midge Frazel, 2004

The monument to Massasoit proudly looks out to sea near the Sarcophagus.




Map of Historic Plymouth Waterfront

That's Plymouth Rock?
...a Web presentation

That's Plymouth Rock?
...the Webquest

Giving Thanks
Curriculum Resources for Educators

Step Onto the Rock Activity Page
...a timeline and media literacy idea

Pilgrims: Photos by Midge Frazel
..freely useable for education

Pilgrim Monuments Around the World

Plymouth in the Words of Her Founders
by Dr. Paul Jehle

ISBN 0-97244173-4-6