OFF THE NORTHWAY
Caretakers of cottage worth studying, too
Up near the top of Mount McGregor, in the shadow of a state prison,
Grant Cottage draws around 3,000 visitors a year to see the place where
Ulysses S. Grant died.
That’s not many by modern tourism standards.
But the state historical site in Wilton where the Civil War general
and former president died of cancer in 1885 was once a place of
pilgrimage. In the decades after Grant died, former Civil War soldiers
flocked there with their families.
“This was a very sacred place,”
said Steve Trimm, a volunteer tour guide at Grant Cottage. “It would
have been similar to a Vietnam veteran going to the Vietnam Memorial or
to visiting Arlington. When they visited, it was to pay tribute to him,
and he stood for all the veterans of the Civil War.”
But as those
old soldiers faded from the scene, visitors still came for the
profoundly human story of a great but humble man dying, swindled broke
and rushing to fi nish the memoir — one that turned out to be a classic —
of his Army years. For nearly 100 years, caretakers lived at the
cottage to greet visitors and tell the Grant story.
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