GenMassachusetts-L ArchivesArchiver > GenMassachusetts > 2006-11 > 1162404395
Subject: [GENMASSACHUSETTS] Sloop Massachusetts - Capt. Thomas Sanders -1755;176...
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 2006 13:06:35 EST
With thanks to (mailto:) for this item !
John Winthrop of Harvard College knew that part of the transit would be
visible from Newfoundland, so he set up an expedition, with funds and instruments
from the Province of Massachusetts and Harvard College.
He left in the Province-sloop Massachusetts, along with two students.
Crucial to determining his location in St. John's were a few comments
indicating they had set up on an eminence some distance from the harbour. There
were "swarms of insects, that were in possession of the hill". This makes it
unlikely to be a coastal location. It took a number of days to bring/set up
their gear, and they also built a platform, driving stakes into the ground. On
the day, the sun rose from behind a cloud, but they got to view most of the
Fred asked, where was this eminence? Although Winthrop indicated the local
gentlemen called his location "Venus Hill", this was not to be found on maps
in any time period. It is also unlikely they would not have mentioned their
location if it were an already recognized name, such as "Signal Hill".
According to Simon Newcomb, the local Harbormaster thought the location must be Fort
Townshend. Unfortunately, that location is ill-situated for a good view of
Fred took Winthrop's latitude, and assuming an error of one mile, found only
four decent sites in the topographical maps (the given longitude is actually
out at sea). The South Side hills is outside of this zone, and also lacks
suitable terrain for driving posts, much less clambering up the hills with
equipment. Surely, if they set up on Signal Hill, they would have stated so. That
leaves three suitable areas, roughly around Kenmount Hill (for instance
Firewood Hill). The stated latitude also happens to go through Kenmount Hill. In
those days, much of the lower path should have been denuded of trees, and the
ascent is pretty gradual. The ground is good for pole-driving, and
particularly from Kenmount, there is a good view of the sea horizon where the sun
would have risen. All three sites are possibilities, but the very top of Kenmount
would seem to have been an ideal location.