The Battle Road Scenic Byway
- DesignationAll-American Road (2021)
- Intrinsic QualitiesHistoric, Cultural
- Length15 miles
The Battle Road follows the approximate path of the British regulars during the battles that marked the start of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775—where the "shot heard round the world" was fired. The byway runs along approximately fifteen miles of roads in the communities of Arlington, Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord, including part of the Minute Man National Historical Park. Not only is this route famous for its role in the American Revolution; The Battle Road Byway is a "Road to Revolutions" because of the literary, environmental, and technological revolutions that have occurred.
Story of the Byway
One Road, Many Revolutions!
The Battle Road Scenic Byway is best known for its role as the catalyst for the American Revolution. It is also home to literary, environmental, and technological revolutions that have shaped the American experience. Located in the Massachusetts towns of Arlington, Lexington, Lincoln, and Concord, the Byway includes Minute Man National Historical Park and other attractions highlighting the American Revolution. It also features sites associated with early conservationists, prominent abolitionists, former slaves, some of the 19th century’s most celebrated authors, and innovators of technologies. The Byway’s most notable intrinsic qualities are historical and cultural. It is also home to significant natural, recreational, scenic, and archaeological intrinsic qualities that are well documented in the Corridor Management Plan 2011.
The Battles of Lexington and Concord are considered the point of no return – the point when years of building tension finally erupted into war. The Byway enables visitors to follow the path of the British Regulars as they march from Boston on April 19, 1775, with two goals: to destroy munitions that were stored throughout Concord and to capture Sam Adams and John Hancock who were staying in Lexington. Travelers can join the British as they marched to Colonel Barrett’s Farmhouse to search for munitions, to the Concord North Bridge where the British met armed resistance, and then follow the fighting as they fled back to Boston along the Battle Road.
The Byway begins at the Cambridge/Arlington border and continues through Arlington, passing the Black Horse Tavern where The Committee on Safety met to criticize oppressive British policies. Many “witness houses” that existed on the Battle Road in 1775 are still standing today, some of which are open to the public.
The Battle Road continues to the Lexington Common, now known as Lexington Battle Green, wherein in an early dawn battle on April 19, 1775, the “first shots were fired” by the British upon the gathered Lexington Militia. These casualties described as a massacre united public opinion and support for the Revolution. A Byway spur leads to the Hancock-Clarke House, where Adams and Hancock safely fled with a trunk of secret papers.
Just past the Battle Road National Park Service Visitor Center in Lincoln is the Paul Revere Capture site. William Dawes and Samuel Prescott managed to escape, and Prescott continued on to Concord, sounding the alarm that the British were coming. This section of the Byway, within the Minute Man National Historical Park, shows what the Battle Road was like in 1775.
The British marched from Lexington to Concord and split into smaller groups to search for munitions and secure the North and South Bridges. At the North Bridge, travelers can experience the “shot heard ‘round the world” where the colonists attacked the British soldiers. They can also see where the British failed to find the munitions at the Barrett Farmhouse.
The British Regulars, now outnumbered, began their retreat to Boston along the Battle Road. Minutemen from surrounding towns joined the running battles that followed. Battle sites, witness houses, commemorative monuments, burial grounds, and visitor attractions showcase these historical events and provide a rich traveler experience.
The Byway is an international as well as an American tourist destination. Every year, well over a million people from around the world visit Minute Man National Historical Park, notable authors’ homes, museums, and other sites along the Byway. Every April, scores of visitors gather at key battle sites to witness live reenactments of events that changed the course of our country’s history. Travelers also enjoy the Byway’s recreational offerings, including the Minuteman Bikeway and the Battle Road Trail.
In the nineteenth century, the Byway was a hub for American literature, transcendentalism, abolitionism, and environmental conservation. Classic American authors, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott, Margaret Fuller, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, all lived and wrote along this storied route and drew inspiration from its natural and cultural resources.
Some of today’s resident pre-eminent thinkers include Pulitzer Prize-winner E. O. Wilson, renowned biologist, naturalist, and author; Noam Chomsky, outspoken American linguist, philosopher, and political activist; Sir Tim Berners-Lee, computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web; Peter Diamond, Nobel Prize winner in Economics; and Doris Kearns-Goodwin, Pulitzer-prize winner, biographer, historian, and political commentator.
Innovations in aviation electronics and aviation technology continue to be developed at MIT Lincoln Labs and Draper Labs at the adjacent Hanscom Air Force Base. American History, Culture, Literature, Technology, and Recreation all join to make the Battle Road Scenic Byway a National treasure.
Take Highway 3 in Arlington, MA northwesterly through town to Massachusetts Ave and continue to the community of Lexington. Crossing I95, pick up Highway 2A and arrive at the Minuteman National Historical Park. Just to the west, the route splits. Take the southern route on Bedford Road to the community of Lincoln. The northern route takes 2A/Lexington Road to the community of Concord.
Points of Interest
Jason Russell House
The Jason Russell House played a major role in the earliest battles of the American Revolution.
Lexington Battle Green
The one-sided skirmish in an otherwise insignificant farming town marked a turning point in the relationship between the colonists and the British government.
Minute Man National Historical Park
Minute Man National Historical Park is a linear park spanning over 1,000 acres with four units.
Paul Revere Capture Site
Each April, the Lincoln Minute Men and other Colonial and British reenactment units gather to remember the events that transpired on April 19th, by performing a salute to the lives lost with colonial fife and drum music, musket firing, and by reciting Longfellow's famous poem.
The Wayside: Home of Authors
The Wayside: Home of Authors is the first literary site added to the National Park Service. The Wayside is the only National Historic Landmark to have been lived in by three literary families. Their home and works span more than three centuries.
On April 19, 1775 colonial minute men and militia confronted a party of British regulars guarding Concord's North Bridge.
In 1775, Col. James Barrett was tasked by the Provincial Congress to secure much of the colony's military supplies in Concord.
Experience American History on The Battle Road Byway
While this Byway is only 15 miles, there is no shortage of possibility to have an amazing time along this historic Byway. Starting in Concord, you can immediately take in the history of this area in locations like the Concord Museum, the Ralph Waldo Emerson House, and much more. As you start your drive east along the Byway, you will realize that there are so many different historical locations so close to each other, making this a jam-packed trip.
Your next stop should be at Minute Man National Historic Park, where there are multiple different locations you can visit within it. There is a walking trail that runs through the entirety of the park, so all of these locations are within walking distance. Start at Brooks Village, and then make your way through sites such as Hartwell Tavern, Captain William Smith House, and the Paul Revere Capture Site. There is a Visitors Center at the beginning of the park, so make sure to stop by there before your walk!
The next stop along the Byway will be the historic City of Lexington. This City is bursting with history and there are so many different ways of experiencing it. Arguably the best way would be to take the Liberty Ride Trolley Tour, which takes you around the entire City and teaches you about its rich history. This is also the perfect place to grab a bite to eat before you end your journey in Arlington.
Arlington is also an incredibly historic city, with so many historic sites and locations. Some of these locations include the Uncle Sam Statue, the Old Burial Ground, Arlington Town Hall, a Civil War Memorial, and much more. Although your journey ends here, there is still so much to explore throughout the area, so make the most of it!
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