Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Moswetuset Hummock

I made a wonderful discovery on my regular riding route this past Sunday. I was zipping along the East Squantum Street Causeway in Quincy, when I approached this outcropping of trees on the right side of the road...

I've passed by this spot many times before. It rises out of the salt marshes all on its own, has a small parking lot near the road, and a path that wraps around its edges. I've always thought, "I should really stop here and check it out", but I never have -- mainly because East Squantum Street is simply one of the most wonderful roads on which to ride fast! Just look at this picture I took of it last summer...

It's got a nice wide shoulder and beautiful views on either side, tailor-made for putting the bike into a giant gear and ratcheting up the sped. So I had always just careened on by, never managing to stop at that odd little hill.

But this past Sunday, a small turn of fate pulled me in...

I had just replaced my front tire earlier that week. So riding down the causeway on Sunday morning, I was struck by an annoying thought: "I wonder if I turned the quick-release lever too tight when I put the wheel back on?" Now you know what happens when you get a thought like that ... there's no relief until you stop to address it. So for the first time in my life, I slowed my bike down and pulled into what I would soon learn was the Moswetuset Hummock.

After checking my wheel (of course it was fine), I got curious and made my way toward the mound of trees. Walking along the path I had so often seen from afar, the first thing I came across was this historical marker:

So the name "Massachusetts" came from this very spot!

Apparently, Native American Chief Chickatawbut led the Massachusett tribe from the top of Moswetuset Hummock, on which I was standing. Moswetuset means "hill in the shape of an arrowhead", which eventually became "Massachusett" (if you don't see the resemblance, try saying the two names out loud a few times). Colonial settlers met with Chickatawbut and eventually adopted the tribe's name.

Walking my bike around the little path, it truly is a beautiful place...

I imagine it will be even more beautiful later this spring.

It's hard to believe an entire people were led from this little mound. But when you live in a place like Boston, there's rarely a hill or valley that doesn't have some story behind it. The tides of history may have passed by Moswetuset Hummock for the time being, but it still seemed to have a special aura about it. I'm glad I finally slowed down long enough to notice.


  1. That's really cool! I love discovering things like that.

  2. Interesting post...especially since I'm in the middle of reading Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick.

  3. What a fascinating discovery right there by the road you were cycling on. The bird in one of your photos looks like a Chickadee to me. A pretty place.
    from Leah