Massachusetts is home to one of the earliest and most famous colonial settlements at Plymouth. Plymouth, or Plimoth, was also the site of the first Thanksgiving and the landing of the infamous Mayflower ship that brought the settlers to the New World. Last recorded in an assessment in 1624, the original Mayflower disappeared from all other records and its whereabouts remain unknown. This didn’t stop history fanatics from building a replica in England during the 1950s and sailing the new Mayflower II across the Atlantic to the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts. Carefully recreated, this new ship is as close to the original as the builders could make her down to the tarred hemp rigging and the solid oak construction. Climbing aboard the Mayflower II, you may learn about the dangers of oversea travel, the tools sailors used to navigate in the 1600s, and see how cramped the passengers quarters are compared to the Master’s cabin.
Please be aware that the ship is not fully accessible for everyone. The ramps to get on board may become steep depending on the rise and fall of the tides. Likewise, there are several flights of stairs going down into the lower levels of the ship. Those who are unable to board may talk with crew members and look at pictures of what the ship looks like on the interior.
The historical significance of the Mayflower II as well as the larger Plimoth Plantation is extensive and the institution, sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute, caters to learning for all age groups. Programs are regularly available for groups by reservation at the Mayflower II exhibit. The regular tour lasts roughly 45 minutes long and takes you through the depths of the ship’s history and its significance.
Other programs for schools, large groups, and adults who are interested in the 17th century settlement exist in the larger Plimoth Plantation site. The Plantation even offers group overnights childrens groups with chaperones where the group is offered the rare two-day opportunity to explore the exhibits.