Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock

Plymouth Rock is the traditional site of disembarkation of William Bradford and the "Mayflower" Pilgrims who founded Plymouth Colony in 1620, in what would become the United States. There is no contemporary reference to it, and it is not referred to in Bradford's journal "Of Plymouth Plantation" or in "Mourt's Relation". The first reference to the Pilgrims landing on a rock is found 121 years after they landed. The rock is currently located on the shore of Plymouth Harbor in Plymouth, Massachusetts.


The location of the "Plymouth Rock" (more specifically, "Dedham granodiorite", a glacial erratic), at the foot of Cole's Hill is said to have been passed from generation to generation.Fact|date=May 2008 When plans were afoot to build a wharf at the Pilgrim's landing site in 1741, a 94 year old Elder of the church named Thomas Faunce (who was the town record keeper for most of his adult life), identified the precise rock his father had told him was the first solid land the Pilgrims set foot upon. (However, the Pilgrims first landed near the site of modern Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod in November 1620 before moving to Plymouth). The rock is located about convert|650|ft|m from where it is generally accepted that the initial settlement was built.

When Col. Theophilus Cotton and the townspeople of Plymouth decided to move the rock in 1774, the rock was split into two halves, and it was decided to leave the bottom portion behind at the wharf and the top half was relocated to the town's meeting-house.

Captain William Coit wrote in the "Pennsylvania Journal" of November 29 1775, of a story of how he brought captive British sailors ashore "upon the same rock our ancestors first trod."

The upper portion of the rock was relocated from Plymouth's meeting-house to Pilgrim Hall in 1834. In 1859 the Pilgrim Society began building a Victorian canopy, designed by Hammatt Billings, at the wharf over the lower portion of the rock. Following its completion in 1867, the top of the rock was moved from Pilgrim Hall back to its original wharf location in 1880. The date "1620" was carved into the rock.

In 1920, the rock was relocated and the waterfront rebuilt to a design by noted landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff, with a waterfront promenade behind a low seawall, in such a way that when the rock was returned to its original site, it would be at water level. The care of the rock was turned over to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and a new very sober Roman Doric portico designed by McKim, Mead and White and Chesley Bonestell for viewing the tide-washed rock protected by gratings.During the Rock's many journeys throughout the town of Plymouth numerous pieces of the Rock were taken, bought and sold. Today approximately 1/3 of the top portion remains. It is estimated that the original Rock weighed convert|20000|lb|abbr=on. Although some documents indicate that tourists or souvenir hunters chipped it down, no pieces have been noticeably removed since 1880. Today there are pieces in Pilgrim Hall Museum as well as in the Patent Building in the Smithsonian.
Alexis De Tocqueville wrote in 1835:

"This Rock has become an object of veneration in the United States. I have seen bits of it carefully preserved in several towns in the Union. Does this sufficiently show that all human power and greatness is in the soul of man? Here is a stone which the feet of a few outcasts pressed for an instant; and the stone becomes famous; it is treasured by a great nation; its very dust is shared as a relic." Infobox_nrhp | name =Plymouth Rock
nrhp_type =

caption = The present (1920) superstructure designed by McKim, Mead, and White for the Tercentenary of Plymouth Rock
location= Plymouth, Massachusetts
lat_degrees = 41
lat_minutes = 57
lat_seconds = 28.74
lat_direction = N
long_degrees = 70
long_minutes = 39
long_seconds = 44.54
long_direction = W
locmapin = Massachusetts
area =
built =1620
architect= McKim, Mead, and White, Chesley Bonestell
architecture= Classical Revival, Other
added = July 01, 1970
governing_body = State
refnum=70000680cite web|url=|title=National Register Information System|date=2007-01-23|work=National Register of Historic Places|publisher=National Park Service]

Current status

Today Plymouth Rock is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as part of Pilgrim Memorial State Park. From the end of May to Thanksgiving Day, Pilgrim Memorial is staffed by Park Interpreters who inform visitors of the history of Plymouth Rock and answer questions.


*Arner, Robert, “Plymouth Rock Revisited: The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers”, "Journal of American Culture" 6, no. 4, Winter 1983, pp. 25-35.
*Davis, Samuel, “Notes on Plymouth”, Massachusetts Historical Society Collections, vol. 3, 2nd ser., 1815.
*McPhee, John, [ “Travels of the Rock”] , "The New Yorker", February 26, 1990, pp. 108-117.
*Russell, Francis, “The Pilgrims and the Rock”, "American Heritage" 13, no. 6, October 1962, pp. 48-55.
*Seelye, John, "Memory’s Nation: The Place of Plymouth Rock", Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.

External links

* [ Plymouth Rock Foundation]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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