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Favorite Camping Trips — Old Sturbridge Village and Wells State Park, Massachusetts

October 11, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 


Old Sturbridge Village is the largest outdoor living history museum in the Northeast. It’s located on Route 20 in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. It portrays New England Village life from 1790 to 1830. Friendly and knowledgeable costumed characters, known as history interpreters, play the roles of Sturbridge villagers. They can be seen each day carrying out their private lives and trades. They’ll answer whatever questions modern day visitors’ might have to turn a day’s visit into an educational and pleasant experience for the whole family. It’s time travel at its best.

As stated in their website, “Old Sturbridge Village’s purpose is to provide modern Americans with a deepened understanding of their own times through a personal encounter with New England’s past.”

Wander along a country road and stop to chat with a farmer plowing his field or with women baking bread in a fireplace oven. Listen to the clanging of the blacksmith’s hammer as it strikes the red-hot hot iron just pulled from his forge, or the laughter of children at play, or the lowing of cattle in the field, or the busy buzzing of the honey bees; all playing their role in the picturesque tableau of another day in the life of colonial Sturbridge village.

You’ll feel like you’ve been transported back in time to a much simpler world closer to nature and God. With over 40 original buildings, all carefully researched, chosen and transported from elsewhere in New England and brought to the 200 acre museum site, there is always something to experience. Original buildings include homes, meetinghouses, a district school, a country store, a bank, a law office, a printing office, a carding mill, a sawmill, a gristmill, a pottery shop, a blacksmith shop, a shoe shop, and a cooper shop. Come during the Spring planting or Fall harvest season, or during one of the holiday festivals, you’ll never fail to feel refreshed and proud of the foundation of hard work and faith that this country’s founders relied on to create what most of us take so much for granted today.

A person’s value in those days was based on their trustworthiness, self-discipline, compassion, work, perseverance, loyalty and faith; not on fast talk and empty promises.

Those of you who are familiar with the more urban Colonial Williamsburg will be struck by the contrasts between Williamsburg, a one-time colonial capital city, and the more rural Sturbridge, where the pace of life was much slower and farming was the mainstay of peoples’ lives. If the residents where not farmers, then they practiced trades that supported farming; like that of the blacksmith, the cooper, the weaver, the potter the miller and other trades that worked together to form the backbone of an agrarian society of the early 19th century. Visitors can experience, in a real and personal way, the daily lives of New England families who helped make our country the better part of what it is today; not the present day’s self-centered society, but instead a society centered on one’s value to the community.

Developing a familiarity with the roots of American life; from its earliest beginnings in the Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts or in the oldest city in America in St. Augustine, Florida, to those of the later colonial period in Sturbridge and Williamsburg will leave one with an appreciation of early American life before there was a WalMart in every town and a Starbucks on every corner.

While visiting Old Sturbridge Village, we camp at Wells State Park, five miles northwest of the village; off route 49 on Walker Pond Road.

Forty or more years ago, when we first discovered Wells State Park, the park was much as it is today, except that than you could arrive on a Friday afternoon and claim a site for the weekend. Today the park retains its popularity; so much so that reservations are definitely required.

Wells State Park consists of 1,400 acres of woodland. It offers 61 sites, no utilities, but has a dump station and water. Some of the best sites overlook Walker Pond.

Our family has dozens of fond memories of Wells State Park. Memories of the adults taking turns watching over their friends’ children so that they could take turns late-night skinny-dipping in Walker Pond. Of nightime drives outside of the park; the only way to get our daughter to go to sleep. Of squeezing more than twenty adults and children – and their three tents – into the same oversized tent site when the “All Sites Full” sign went up before we arrived. Of squeezing more than a dozen adults and kids into our van – just for the fun of it – for a trip out to the farm stand – and then leaving two of the small kids behind when we left to return to the campground (My daughter, one of the two, wasn’t crying when we returned and swept her up into our arms with tears and apologies, since, she explained, “I knew you’d come back for me). Of times when, within minutes of arriving, one of the kids would disappear, later to be found playing with some other family’s kids in their camper and no one would be upset, knowing that camping families watched out for everyone else’s kids. And finally, which of the kids was conceived where and on what camping trip. Memories…

Till next time,

The Traveler

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