Written by: Doug Rentz
Buildings from the 17th century and earlier still stand in South County and tell the stories of the region�s founding fathers. The Rhode Island Tourism Division accentuates the county�s history through one of its many themed itineraries designed for the packaged travel buyer.
�There can�t be many places in the world that boast the breathtaking vistas that South County does - it�s possible to be standing on a 400-year-old farm while enjoying amazing views of Narragansett Bay,� said Katrina White, travel trade manager for the Rhode Island Tourism Division. �In fact, South County is home to some of the original plantations of the colony, some of which are still being farmed today.�
White�s itinerary begins with a stop at the General Nathanael Greene Homestead in Coventry. A Revolutionary War hero, Greene lived here from 1770 to 1776. He was the youngest general of the Colonial army and a friend and comrade-in-arms of Gen. George Washington. Visitors to the house, which is now a museum run by the General Nathanael Greene Homestead Association, are welcome to explore eight rooms displaying period furnishings and Greene family memorabilia.
Next, the group will enjoy a scenic narrated driving tour of the woodlands of the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area en route to the Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum in Exeter. Through a guided tour, participants learn the history and culture of local Native American Indians, with a presentation of song and dance by students from Nuweetooun School. Guests also can sample Native American food while browsing the many exhibits showcasing the culture.
A tour highlight is the re-enactment of encampment at Smith�s Castle in Wickford. The home was built in 1637 and stands on the site of one of Roger Williams� trading posts, which was chosen for its access to Narragansett Bay. The castle and grounds provide a glance at plantation life in Rhode Island in the 1700s. Visitors can take in a guided tour of the castle with docents dressed in costume and enjoy the picturesque grounds.
�Smith�s Castle in Wickford is a real gem,� White said. �The grounds are stunning. An 18th-century garden is kept, which includes plants from the time, not to mention the beautiful views of the cove leading to the bay.�
Rounding out the historical journey through South County is the Quonset Air Museum located in an original Naval Air Station Quonset Point hangar built in 1945. Flight buffs can see a diverse assortment of aircraft, parts, historic artifacts and collections that document the contributions of Rhode Island to the growth and development of America�s aviation and space exploration.