Coast Path

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United States go to Migration go to Trails and Roads Gotoarrow.png Massachusetts Gotoarrow.png Coast Path

Did an ancestor travel the Coast Path of Massachusetts? Learn about this settler migration route, its transportation history, and find related genealogy sources.

Map of the Coast Path in light purple from Boston to Plymouth, Mass.
The Coast Path was a 45 mile (72 kilometer) migration route between Plymouth and Boston near the shore of Massachusetts.[1] [2]

Background History

The Pilgrims from England and the Netherlands founded Plymouth in 1620. The Puritans from England founded Boston in 1630. The Coast Path was the earliest overland route between the two.

The Coast Path probably pre-dated both colonies as part of a much longer American Indian trail with extensions as far north as Maine and New Brunswick (see Kennebunk Road) where the English and other Europeans dried cod from the Grand Banks for markets in Europe by the early 1500s.

The Coast Path (Road) was designated a public highway in 1639; in 1803 it was made a turnpike (toll road).[3]

Route

The Coast Path passed northwest to southeast through Suffolk, Norfolk, and Plymouth counties:

Suffolk County

Norfolk County

Plymouth County

Connecting Routes Over time the Coast Path connected with half a dozen new migration routes out of the Boston end of the Coast Path:

Modern parallels. The modern road that roughly matches the old Coast Path from Boston to Plymouth is:

  • Massachusetts State Highway Route 3A between Boston and Plymouth.

Settlers and Records

The pathway from from Plymouth to Boston near the Atlantic Ocean shore was used by European settlers and traders by 1630, if not earlier. A few scattered settlers from Plymouth may have settled along the route in the decade following 1621. More concentrated European settlements along the route began after Boston was settled about 1630. There are few records mentioning specific Coast Path travelers. Letters mention that Governor Winthrop traveled the route for two days in 1631 to meet with Governor Bradford. On that trip Winthrop was carried across the streams on the backs of Indians.[17] Also, anyone who settled near the Coast Path during the 1600s likely used the Coast Path or the ocean to reach their new home, or to reach marketplaces in Boston and Plymouth. For records of the earliest settlers (and Coast Path travelers), see resources such as:

  • Lucy Mary Kellogg, et. al., Mayflower Families Through Five Generations: Descendants of the Pilgrims Who Landed at Plymouth, Mass., December 1620, 23+ vols. (Plymouth, Massachusetts: General Society of Mayflower Descendants, 1975- ). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974.4 D2mf.
  • Robert Charles Anderson, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633, 3 vols. (Boston, Massachusetts: New England Historic Genealogical Society, c1995). At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 974 W2a.

External Links

Sources

  1. Handybook for Genealogists: United States of America, 9th ed. (Logan, Utah: Everton Pub., 1999), pages 531 and M-48. At various libraries (WorldCat); FHL Book 973 D27e 1999.
  2. Frederic J. Wood, The Turnpikes of New England and the Evolution of the Same Through England, Virginia, and Maryland (Boston: Marshall Jones, 1919), 25. Internet Archive version online.
  3. Agnes Edwards (Rothery), PDF Book: The Old Coast Road From Boston to Plymouth (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1920), 7. At various libraries (WorldCat).
  4. Boston in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  5. Dorchester, Boston in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  6. Milton, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  7. Quincy, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  8. Braintree, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  9. Weymouth, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  10. Cohasset, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  11. Hingham, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  12. Scituate, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  13. Marshfield, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  14. Duxbury, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  15. Kingston, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  16. Plymouth, Massachusetts in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia (accessed 14 October 2014).
  17. Rothery, 5.