Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fourteen Miles to New Haven

Today, I finally made good on a promise to my friend Pam at Farmhouse Primitives to publish a photo of an old colonial milepost situated alongside U.S. Route 1 in Stratford, Connecticut.

Back in January, Pam posted an excellent article commemorating Benjamin Franklin's birthday (January 17th, to be precise). With great interest, I read how Francis Lovelace, the second colonial governor of New York, established an early postal trail between New York and Boston, in 1673 (right around the time of construction of the Hawkins house). This trail eventually became known as the Old Boston Post Road, a roadway anyone living in southern Connecticut is generally familiar with.

Pam's article then goes on to describe how, starting in 1753, and at various times up until the Revolution, Benjamin Franklin helped lead the development of a highly efficient and reliable postal system throughout all of the colonies. Franklin was ultimately appointed Post Master General by the Second Continental Congress in 1775, and today, our modern U.S. postal system is generally attributed to Franklin's efforts.

Ben Franklin's "14 Miles to NH" milepost on the Old Boston Post Road, in Stratford, CT

I grew up in Stratford, Connecticut, on the other side of my block from U.S. Route 1, which the Old Boston Post Road is now a part of. While growing up, one of the oddities we encountered every day walking to and from school was this small stone monolith inscribed with "14 Miles to NH" (New Haven), shown in the photo above.

Local history has it that this stone, sitting just a few yards from the curb of Route 1, was a milepost established on the postal trail at some point during Franklin's administration of the continental mail system.

Almost completely forgotten by our local, collective memory, it's amazing that this milepost has sat here for so very long, largely unnoticed and, for the most part, unscathed by time, weather, and nearby development. And as a young lad in grade school, never had I dreamed, of course, that one day I'd be inspired to write so much about this very odd, and very old, stone.

(This article is cross-posted in Plantation by the Sea)


Farmhouse Primitives said...

oh my!! John, I just find that so awesome to see. Wish I could reach out and touch it......feel connected to it. To live surrounded by things so early, must be wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing that with all of us. I truly enjoyed it. Bet when you were a young boy, you never dreamed you'd be writing an article about that "old rock" you saw everyday, huh? (grin)

John Poole said...

Hi Pam! Thanks for visiting. Yes, it's pretty amazing to see so many artifacts of the past. There's a lot of stuff like this all around Stratford. When I get a chance, I'll try to post more about the town. To think how, as kids, we used to throw snowballs at Ben Franklin's old milepost!