2018-10-8 | Chevy New Roads Magazine
Join us on a historical Revolutionary War road trip from Massachusetts to Pennsylvania in the well-appointed comfort of a Chevrolet Equinox.
As I traverse the bucolic backcountry roads of upstate New York, it’s difficult to fathom that an important battle, one they called the turning point of the American Revolutionary War, was ever fought in these picturesque hills. I’m outside Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in the middle of a three-day road trip that began in Boston, where the embers of American independence first started to burn, and will end in Philadelphia, where both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were written, establishing this new democratic society, the United States of America.
Yet it is the significant Revolutionary War sites—Concord, Saratoga, and Valley Forge—that I am most looking forward to exploring. Once bloody battlefields and winter retreats, they’re now a tranquil blend of rolling hills, stone bridges, sinuous rivers, and green fields, perfectly suited for a long, historically rich drive.
The Details Matter
4-CYLINDER TURBO ENGINE AVAILABLE†
Boston to Concord | 19 Miles
Most history buffs start their tour of Boston on the 2.5-mile Freedom Trail that snakes its way to 16 locales that played a pivotal role in securing America’s independence. But I choose an unconventional route, starting my journey with a visit to the Art of the Americas Wing at the Museum of Fine Arts to see the faces of our Founding Fathers. In the galleries on early American paintings, I find Gilbert Stuart’s well-known portrait of a debonair George Washington (The Athenaeum Portrait), 1796, near another large-scale work of Washington crossing the Delaware River. And close by, John Singleton Copley’s acclaimed painting of Paul Revere, 1768, holding a silver teapot.
Satisfied that I’ve connected with them, I make my second stop the Freedom Trail. I follow the distinctive red brick line into some of Boston’s most cherished neighborhoods—Beacon Hill’s century-old brownstones and village squares, the North End’s winding streets, and Charlestown, once the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill and now home to America’s most celebrated ship, the USS Constitution. Two of the most important sites of the American Revolution are the Old South Meeting House and the Old State House. On December 16, 1773, some 5,000 citizens came to Old South, spilling out into the streets to protest the Tea Act. When the British refused for the final time to take their tea back home, Samuel Adams rose and said, “Gentlemen, this meeting can do nothing more to save the country.” Thus, the start of the Boston Tea Party. The first bloodshed of the Revolution took place just outside the Old State House. Known as the Boston Massacre, five colonists were killed when a squad of British officers fired into a jeering mob.
Next, it’s on to Paul Revere’s house, the oldest standing structure in Boston, and then to the Old North Church, where Robert Newman and Revere’s friend John Pulling were instructed to hang lanterns from the steeple windows to tip off how the British redcoats were arriving: “One, if by land, and two, if by sea.” By sea was the chosen route and, once alerted, Revere quickly paddled across the Charles River, mounted a horse, and raced west. The night was April 18, 1775, and it would lead to the official start of the Revolutionary War.
Boston to Saratoga Springs
Highlights from this leg of the trip include the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Freedom Trail, the Mohawk Trail, and Saratoga National Historical Park.
I head out in my Chevrolet Equinox following Revere’s route west along Routes 2 and 2A to reach Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord. Where Revere had, literally, a horsepower of 1, the Equinox’s available 2.0-liter turbocharged engine delivers 252 horsepower, which cuts some effort from the journey. I continue along Route 2A into Concord, where charming Colonial-era homes front a village green, to see where Revere was captured by the British (they took his horse but, surprisingly, let him go).
My final stop is the historic North Bridge, where local minutemen confronted the large British regimen and ended up killing the first British soldiers in “the shot heard round the world.” Today, the bridge overlooks the Concord River and sprawling fields and is a popular spot to picnic.
Concord to Saratoga Springs | 168 Miles
After grabbing a quick coffee, I settle into the oh-so-comfortable ventilated driver’s seat of the Equinox (available with the Driver Confidence and Convenience II Package) and continue along Route 2. I soon arrive in the Berkshire Hills in western Massachusetts, on the Mohawk Trail, a favorite touring road since it was built in 1914. In Charlemont, the rapids of the Deerfield River come into view, and then I rise high above Deerfield Valley with vistas of farmland and forest below. This is the most scenic stretch of road, between Shelburne Falls and the home of Williams College, Williamstown. Route 7 enters New York state from the east, and a number of winding country roads soon lead to Saratoga National Historical Park in Stillwater.
By 1777, the mighty British army had taken the cities of New York and Philadelphia, forcing the colonists into the countryside. On September 19th, British troops came upon the farm of John Freeman, a loyalist who had gone north to meet up with British General John Burgoyne’s army. There, some 8,000 Americans under the helm of General Horatio Gates and Colonel Daniel Morgan were waiting. Burgoyne was hoping that British forces from New York City would help out, but that never happened, and on October 17, 1777, he surrendered to Gates—the first time the British army surrendered. The victory helped persuade the French to join sides with the Americans.
Behind the wheel of the Equinox, I pleasantly navigate the 10-mile park loop to visit the Freeman Farm Overlook and the shores of the Hudson River. Deer now roam the countryside, peacefully nibbling grass on this hallowed ground. After learning about so much bloodshed, I feel a bit guilty spending the night in comfort at the Adelphi Hotel in nearby Saratoga Springs, which was recently restored to its Victorian era charm. I enjoy a tasty burger at the bar, Morrissey’s, named after John Morrissey, a prizefighter, gangster, entrepreneur, and congressman who gave up the ghost while sitting at the old Adelphi Hotel bar.
Where Revere had, literally, a horsepower of 1, the Equinox’s available 2.0L turbocharged engine delivers 252 horsepower, which cuts some effort from the journey.
Saratoga Springs to Valley Forge to Philadelphia
On this leg of the journey, our writer crosses the Delaware and takes a break at Valley Forge—much like George Washington—before ending his trip at Independence Hall.
Saratoga Springs to Valley Forge to Philadelphia | 281 miles
The New York State Thruway south of Albany is one of the most picturesque stretches of highway in the Northeast, dotted with vineyards, dairy farms, and the Catskill Mountains. I maneuver the Equinox onto the Garden State Parkway in New Jersey, merge into the car-only section of I-95 South to avoid the big rigs, and soon cross the Delaware like George Washington to reach Pennsylvania.
Valley Forge is where Washington and his troops would wait out the winter of 1777–78. He arrived in late December with 11,000 soldiers, which I learn created the fourth largest city in America at that time. Only two years into a long war, the Continental Army was already plagued by inadequate funds to supply food, clothing, and equipment to the soldiers. By the time they would leave for battle in June 1778, some 2,000 men had died of typhoid, influenza, and other diseases.
My final stop, 20 miles away, is downtown Philadelphia. Inside the new Museum of the American Revolution, whose second-floor galleries chronologically recap our battle for freedom, I retrace my stops from Boston to Concord to Saratoga to Valley Forge and now Philly. I then walk over to my last significant stop, Independence Hall. Inside these venerable walls, Thomas Jefferson would spend 17 days putting his thoughts on paper to create the Declaration of Independence, which included 86 changes before it was adopted by Congress on July 4, 1776. Once the Revolutionary War ended in 1783, it would still take another four years before the Constitution was signed in this same room and our country became the United States of America.
I end my trip at City Tavern, a reconstruction of the original built in 1773. Waiters dressed in Colonial garb serve recipes from that time period, including raspberry shrub, a popular drink. I raise a toast to the brave and brilliant men who fought for and created a republic that still adheres to the United States Constitution 231 years later. Then I dig into my rabbit stew.
Lodging & Dining
The Hawthorne Inn
462 Lexington Road
Built in the 1860s on land once owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, this seven-room upscale B&B is less than a five-minute drive to Old North Bridge.
80 Thoreau Street
Bostonians flock to the suburbs for the farm-to-table salads, grilled sirloin and swordfish, and impeccable service found at this dining room above the Concord train depot.
The Adelphi Hotel
Smack dab in the heart of downtown, the Adelphi is within easy walking distance to restaurants, bars, shops, and the race track.
15 Church Street
Sesame-crusted tuna and a heavenly burger are just a few of the options at this longstanding Saratoga hot spot. Head to the bar before dinner for the weekday happy hour.
138 South 2nd Street
Listen to a live harpist as you sample the tenderloin tips, pork chop,
roasted duck, or rabbit paired with hot-out-of-the-oven bread. Save room for
fruit cobbler with cinnamon ice cream.
STORY: STEPHEN JERMANOK / PHOTOGRAPHY: CHRIS STRALEY / ILLUSTRATION: MAX MAJOROS