Hans DePold, town historian
(Published in the Bolton Community News, April 2007)
Bolton has been at the forefront of the effort to create the Washington Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail (W3RNHT). We asked Representative Pam Sawyer to introduce the state legislation to define the route through Connecticut. We asked Congressman John Larson and Senator Joseph Lieberman to introduce the federal legislation to fund the National Park Service study of the entire 600-plus–mile route, which goes from Newport, Rhode Island, to Yorktown, Virginia. Now Senator Lieberman and Congressman Larson have introduced the first bills to actually create the W3R National Historic Trail.
These bills are the first stage of the legislative process. Senate bill S.686 has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee where it is being considered. The house has referred their bill H.R.1286 to the House Committee on Natural Resources. For its current status, go to: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s110-686.
I have been involved with this project since 1994 when I was on the Economic Development Committee and wrote the early drafts of the legislation and provided our representatives the facts and maps about the trail. I discovered that the French Camp 5 was on the Rose Farm, not next to Bolton High School as had been depicted since at least 1971. The Army Corps of Engineers wanted to put Route 6 Alt 54 through the middle of the Rose Farm, so I made side-by-side copies of the DEP topographical maps and the French Camp 5 map that showed conclusively that Route 6 Alt 54 would destroy the camp. My wife, Susan DePold, and I then sent the copies to the French Consul in New York City and to the French Ambassador in Washington, DC, and asked them to write to then Connecticut Governor Rowland and ask that Camp 5 be saved as invaluable Franco-American Heritage. Their letters made headlines in the Hartford Courant, and the center of Bolton was no longer threatened.
In 1998, on our third try introducing state bills, Rep. Sawyer convinced the State of Connecticut to underwrite an archeological survey of the Rose Farm. As town historian I called a meeting where the archeologists presented pictures of 60 native American and Revolutionary War artifacts they had found on the farm, proving it was Camp 5 as well as an area traversed by native Americans. That same evening we created the Bolton Historical Society and simultaneously created the original Friends of The Rose Farm to work to purchase and preserve W3R Camp 5, now known as Bolton Heritage Farm. In an earlier, more pious, time it was known as the Minister's Farm.
The W3RNHT now has a very large national organization behind it and a momentum of its own. Many prominent individuals with dual French and US citizenship chair various state committees. One such person is Dr. Jacques Bossiere, who has been our friend since 1996 and has visited Bolton several times. He has been the chairman of the board of directors since December 1999, when the national organization was created. I was then elected the first Committee of Correspondence for the national organization, the same title rabble-rouser Samuel Adams took in the American Revolution. I have written many newsletters to stir up interest in the trail: https://www.connecticutsar.org/revroad/contents.htm.
The W3RNHT legislation would require a minor miracle to pass in its first year. It more likely will pass next year just before the November elections. In the meantime, Bolton can prepare a strategy to take advantage of the extraordinary tourism opportunity the W3RNHT will give us.