The Rock That Never Saw a Pilgrim

Plymouth Rock is probably one of the most visited sites in all of Massachusetts. And for once neither of us even knew much about this site. We walked down Water Street and saw the huge Roman portico that covers the infamous rock.

I had seen it when I was a child, and this was the first time I’d ever remembered something from an earlier visit being smaller than it actually is. I imagined it as merely a small boulder, but this was actually quite large. Especially considering that the rock was originally three times its current size, but was broken a number of times while being moved.

Of course, the story is that this rock was the rock the settlers strode atop from their boats. But, almost no one believes this old story. The sign posted near the monument explains that when a wharf was being built that would ultimately cover the rock a 94-year-old Elder of the church named Thomas Faunce stepped up to identify the “precise” rock his father had told him was the first solid land the Pilgrims set foot upon. However, the truth is it could have been one of any number of rocks, and of course the pilgrims actually landed near the site of modern-day Provincetown in November 1620 before moving to Plymouth.

The fact that its official connection to history is unlikely to be true doesn’t take away from its symbolic significance. Everyone should visit it at least once.