Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Birth of a Nation - Death of the Winter Blues

Since the end of November, right around the date the bike was put away for the winter, I developed an interest in places on the National Register of Historic Places. Living in the town of Uxbridge, I drove by what I thought were run down buildings and old houses that were not quite straight and thought; geez that gotta be expensive to fix. Who would have thought that Uxbridge was so rooted in the history of this country?. Uxbridge was ground zero for the early textile industry with many mills surrounding the rivers. It is in the heart of the John H Chafee Blackstone National Heritage Corridor area, designated by the NPS. In Uxbridge alone, there are 54 houses, mills, buildings and districts. So what does this all mean?

that’s what it means.

There are numerous web sites that list the places and their addresses. I use the NRIS database from the NPS site and This Place as my primarily search tools.

You lookup these places, plug them into MapSource, download them to the GPS, jump in the car (remember the bike has been put away), charge up route, push the gas, hit the break, jump out and take a picture and then off to the next one. All in the hopes you come across one of these.


Easy right?............... not so fast oh “gone postal plaquer”.

In the town of Uxbridge, someone sometime decided to renumber the addresses and of course the addresses the NPS had were not updated. This enables you to use your deductive reasoning and observation skills or resorting to guessing, asking people on the street things like,

Me: Is this Deacon Smith’s house and you get the response “no our last name is Rubinowski not Smith.
Me: No no I am looking for historical places. Is this house called the Deacon Smith House
Them: I don’t think we know Deacon Smith
Me to myself: Of course you don’t know Deacon Smith, he has been dead for 223 years.
Them: You should ask my parents, they might know where the preacher lives
Me: Thank you.

You drive to all these places and one old home looks like the next old home, either one could be the right place. This is where the analility ( I think I made that word up) kicks in plus not wanting to be defeated in this self made contest, it is off to the Uxbridge library (which by the way has a plaque on the outside, but it is not an National Historic Place, simply a notation by the Uxbridge Historical Society and quite possibly on the Massachusetts Historical Place Registry) to see if I can get some information on the places I just wasn’t sure about. Yup they have all the original documentation that was used to get the places listed and there are photos attached too. So I take a picture of the pictures and the info page. Oh guess what, the address from the renumbering of Uxbridge were written on these pages, so now all I had to do was plug in the new addresses to MS, blah blah blah.

Not so fast oh “youthinkyouare sosmart”. Some places don’t exist anymore, but you drive around looking for them over and over anyways, double checking the addresses and then driving reeeeaaaaaaaaallll slow down the street to make sure you just aren’t missing the place. This is the life of a Waypoint junkie. If National Park chasin is Macroeconomics, NRHP (National Register of Historic Places) is microeconomics. To boot there is a special subsection to NRHP’s which are National Landmarks. I am sure sometime I will write on this subject too.

So you have the photos, and the GPS coordinates you got standing right at someone’s front door. Now what. There is the place called that has a ton of categories from Abstract Public Sculptures to Zoos where you can post your finds and get a ribbon. Now there are 2 types of ribbon categories. Your Posts and Your Visits. If you are the poster, you must post some history or interesting facts about the place. This means research which gets you educated, all in one fell swoop. Check it out in the link above. Here’s my stats.

With Uxbridge done, I then branched out to Northbridge, Mendon, Milford, Sutton… do you see where this is going?

As this writing, I have posted 204 places on the NRHP category and visited an additional 36 places. In the Northeast section there are over 18,200 places from Maine to Ohio to the southern border of Pennsylvania across Northern Maryland . Since I am planning a trip to Florida you can throw in another 27,000 places in the Southeast section. It appears I have some places to chase this year, Ya Think ?

Some places that I have been to:

P1050375 P1050443 P1050164 P1050212 P1050282 P1050293