A Walk to Wachusett

A Walk to Wachusett is an essay penned by Henry David Thoreau [1]accounting an excursion he took with a companion, Richard Fuller, from Concord, Massachusetts to the summit of Mount Wachusett located in Princeton, Massachusetts. Their journey, by foot, began on July 19, 1842. Traveling through Acton, Stow, Bolton, Lancaster and Sterling, they arrived in West Sterling by sunset and lodged overnight at a local inn, most likely the Milton Buss Inn and Tavern.

Reaching the summit the following day, the pair had traveled a distance of approximately 34 miles (55 km). Their time on the summit was spent exploring, relaxing and pondering the landscape and its inhabitants. On the third day, they traveled to Harvard, Massachusetts, leaving in the morning of the fourth day as "one bent his steps to the nearer village of Groton, the other took his separate and solitary way to the peaceful meadows of Concord ...."

The signature line of the essay, "Wachusett is, in fact, the observatory of the state" was rewritten from a similar line by Princeton native Charles Theodore Russell in his book ″History of Princeton″ published in 1838.

First published in the January 1843 issue of The Boston Miscellany, this was perhaps the first of Thoreau's works describing excursions he took over the years. Later trips, including a return to Wachusett in October 1854 as well as trips to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont are documented in his journals.


  1. ^ Howe, Daniel Walker, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848. ISBN 978-0-19-507894-7.

External links

  • An online copy of the text is maintained by The Walden Woods Project.
1842 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1842.

A Plea for Captain John Brown

A Plea for Captain John Brown is an essay by Henry David Thoreau. It is based on a speech Thoreau first delivered to an audience at Concord, Massachusetts on October 30, 1859, two weeks after John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, and repeated several times before Brown's execution on December 2, 1859. It was later published as a part of Echoes of Harper's Ferry in 1860.

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers

A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (1849) is a book by Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862). It is ostensibly the narrative of a boat trip from Concord, Massachusetts to Concord, New Hampshire, and back, that Thoreau took with his brother John in 1839. John died of tetanus in 1842 and Thoreau wrote the book, in part, as a tribute to his memory.

Civil Disobedience (Thoreau)

Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience) is an essay by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau that was first published in 1849. In it, Thoreau argues that individuals should not permit governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that they have a duty to avoid allowing such acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican–American War (1846–1848).

Excursions (anthology)

Excursions is an 1863 anthology of several essays by American transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau. The anthology contains an introduction entitled "Biographical Sketch" in which fellow transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson provides a description of Thoreau.The book, other than R. W. Emerson's biography of Thoreau, contains nine of Thoreau's essays: Natural History of Massachusetts, A Walk to Wachusett, The Landlord, A Winter Walk, The Succession of Forest Trees, Walking, Autumnal Tints, Wild Apples, and Night and Moonlight.

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (see name pronunciation; July 12, 1817 – May 6, 1862) was an American essayist, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, yogi, and historian. A leading transcendentalist, Thoreau is best known for his book Walden, a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings, and his essay "Civil Disobedience" (originally published as "Resistance to Civil Government"), an argument for disobedience to an unjust state.

Thoreau's books, articles, essays, journals, and poetry amount to more than 20 volumes. Among his lasting contributions are his writings on natural history and philosophy, in which he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern-day environmentalism. His literary style interweaves close observation of nature, personal experience, pointed rhetoric, symbolic meanings, and historical lore, while displaying a poetic sensibility, philosophical austerity, and Yankee attention to practical detail. He was also deeply interested in the idea of survival in the face of hostile elements, historical change, and natural decay; at the same time he advocated abandoning waste and illusion in order to discover life's true essential needs.He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending the abolitionist John Brown. Thoreau's philosophy of civil disobedience later influenced the political thoughts and actions of such notable figures as Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr.Thoreau is sometimes referred to as an anarchist. Though "Civil Disobedience" seems to call for improving rather than abolishing government—"I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government"—the direction of this improvement contrarily points toward anarchism: "'That government is best which governs not at all;' and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have."

Herald of Freedom (essay)

Herald of Freedom was an essay by Henry David Thoreau, published in The Dial in 1844, that praised Herald of Freedom, the journal of the New Hampshire Anti-Slavery Society, and its editor, Nathaniel P. Rogers. After Rogers died, Thoreau revised the essay and republished it.

Life Without Principle

Life Without Principle is an essay by Henry David Thoreau that offers his program for a righteous livelihood. It was published in 1863.

Mount Wachusett

Mount Wachusett is a mountain in Massachusetts. It straddles towns of Princeton and Westminster, in Worcester County. It is the highest point in Massachusetts east of the Connecticut River. The mountain is named after a Native American term meaning "near the mountain" or "mountain place". The mountain is a popular hiking and skiing destination (see 'Wachusett Mountain Ski Area"). An automobile road, open spring to fall, ascends to the summit. Views from the top of Mount Wachusett include Mount Monadnock to the north, Mount Greylock to the west, southern Vermont to the northwest, and Boston to the east. The mountain is traversed by the 92 mi (148 km) Midstate Trail. It is also home to the Wachusett Mountain State Reservation.

A band of old growth forest along rock ledges 500 feet (150 m) below the summit supports trees from 150 to 370 years old. Covering 220 acres (89 ha), it is the largest known old growth forest east of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts.

Remarks After the Hanging of John Brown

Remarks After the Hanging of John Brown was a speech given by Henry David Thoreau on December 2, 1859, at the time of John Brown's execution. Thoreau gave a few brief remarks of his own, read poetry by Sir Walter Raleigh ("The Soul's Errand"), William Collins ("How Sleep the Brave"), Friedrich Schiller (excerpts from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's translation of "The Death of Wallenstein"), William Wordsworth (excerpts from "Alas! What boots the long laborious quest"), Alfred Tennyson (excerpts from "Maud"), George Chapman (excerpts from "Conspirary of Charles, Duke of Byron"), and Henry Wotton ("The Character of a Happy Life"), and then quoted from his own translation of Tacitus.

Sir Walter Raleigh (essay)

Sir Walter Raleigh is an essay by Henry David Thoreau that has been reconstructed from notes he wrote for an 1843 lecture and drafts of an article he was preparing for The Dial.

It was first published in 1950, in a collection of Thoreau's writings edited by Henry Aiken Metcalf. Another version, with significant differences, can be found in Henry D. Thoreau: Early Essays and Miscellanies, edited by Joseph J. Moldenhauer and Edwin Moser, with Alexander C. Kern.

Metcalf writes in his introduction that he knew of three drafts of this essay, and he drew on all three of them to construct the version he prepared. He hinted that there may have been an additional fourth draft that had yet to surface.

The notes to the Moldenhauer, Moser & Kern version say that Metcalf "misread the holograph at several points, omitted occasional words and phrases, ignored some pencil cancellations, and amplified Thoreau's text with passages from the working manuscripts and from the Raleigh Works. None of these changes carry authority."

Slavery in Massachusetts

Slavery in Massachusetts is an 1854 essay by Henry David Thoreau based on a speech he gave at an anti-slavery rally at Framingham, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1854, after the re-enslavement in Boston, Massachusetts of fugitive slave Anthony Burns.

The Last Days of John Brown

The Last Days of John Brown is an essay by Henry David Thoreau, written in 1860, that praised the executed abolitionist militia leader John Brown.

The Service

The Service is an essay written in 1840 by Henry David Thoreau. He submitted it to The Dial for publication, but they declined to print it. It was not published until after Thoreau's death.The essay uses war and military discipline as metaphors that, as Thoreau would have it, can instruct us in how to order and conduct our lives.

The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau

The Writings of Henry D. Thoreau is a project that aims to provide, for the first time, accurate texts of the complete works of Henry David Thoreau, the American author, including his journal, his personal letters, and his writings for publication. Since the project was founded in 1966, Princeton University Press has published sixteen of its volumes.

The project is located in the Davidson Library at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and is directed by Elizabeth Witherell. Funds for the project come from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Trust for the Humanities, and UC Santa Barbara.

Thomas Carlyle and His Works

Thomas Carlyle and His Works is an essay written by Henry David Thoreau that praises the writings of Thomas Carlyle.

The essay demonstrates a few themes that show up elsewhere in Thoreau's writings. First of these is Thoreau's eagerness to find a hero. Carlyle wrote the book On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and The Heroic in History, which Thoreau considered his crowning achievement.

While Thoreau as a young man was still looking for a hero to model himself after, he knew that ultimately he would have to cast models aside. He felt that the problem with religion was that when a Christ or a Buddha discovered something magnificent and important, people then spent their lives celebrating (or arguing about) the discovery but never bothering to try and discover it themselves. Thoreau appreciated the attitude of those who would not settle to think pre-conceived thoughts, but who instead wished to break out of the box of religious tradition and think independently for oneself. In Carlyle's case, Thoreau used this same appreciation to praise the "Carlylisms" that others found to be ostentatious: "He does not go to the dictionary, the word-book, but to the word-manufactory itself, and has made endless work for the lexicographers." Thoreau thought Carlyle to be of the "Reformer class" and that he had greatly contributed to humanity through his writings.

"The end of man is an action and not a thought, though it be the noblest," Carlyle wrote, and Thoreau sums up Carlyle's philosophy in this way:

One thing is certain – that we had best be doing something in good earnest henceforth forever; that's an indispensable philosophy.

Thoreau Society

The Thoreau Society is a literary society devoted to the works of Henry David Thoreau, it is based in Concord, Massachusetts, USA. Established in 1941, it has long contributed to the dissemination of knowledge about Henry David Thoreau by collecting books, manuscripts, and artifacts relating to Thoreau and his contemporaries, by encouraging the use of its collections, and by publishing articles in two Society periodicals.

The Thoreau Society archives are housed at the Walden Woods Project's Thoreau Institute Library in Lincoln, Massachusetts. This repository includes the collections of Walter Harding and Raymond Adams, two of the foremost authorities on Thoreau and founders of the Thoreau Society; and those of Roland W. Robbins, who uncovered Thoreau's Walden house site.


"Wachusett" is a word derived from the Algonquian languages once spoken by the Native Americans of Massachusetts and is believed to approximate "near the mountain" or "mountain place". Wachusett was originally used as the name of a mountain in Massachusetts; other uses of the word (most of them local) have been derived directly from the name of the mountain.

Wachusett may refer to:

Mount Wachusett, a mountain in Worcester County, Massachusetts

Wachusett Mountain (ski area), located on the mountain

Wachusett Mountain State Reservation, the park covering the mountain

A Walk to Wachusett, an essay by Henry David Thoreau about the author's journey to Mount WachusettOther geographic features

Wachusett Aqueduct in Massachusetts

Wachusett Dam in Clinton, Massachusetts

Wachusett (MBTA station), a commuter rail station in Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Wachusett Reef, a coral reef in the Pacific Ocean reported in 1899 but never confirmed

Wachusett Reservoir in Worcester County, Massachusetts

Wachusett Street in the Forest Hills (Boston) area of Boston, MassachusettsInstitutions, schools, and organizations

Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts

Wachusett Hall at Assumption College

Wachusett Regional High School in Holden, Massachusetts

Wachusett Regional School District in MassachusettsBusinesses

Wachusett Brewing Company in Westminster, Massachusetts

Wachusett Dirt Dawgs, a collegiate summer baseball team in Leominster, Massachusetts

Wachusett Potato Chip Company in Fitchburg, Massachusetts

Wachusett Shirt Company, a historic building in Leominster, MassachusettsShips

USS Wachusett (1861), a United States Navy sloop-of-war in commission from 1862 to 1868, from 1871 to 1874, and from 1879 to 1885

USS Wachusett (ID-1840), a United States Navy cargo ship in commission from 1918 to 1919

USS Wachusetts (SP-548), later USS SP-548, a United States Navy patrol vessel in commission from 1917 to 1919

Wendell Phillips Before the Concord Lyceum

Wendell Phillips Before the Concord Lyceum is an essay style letter-to-the-editor written by Henry David Thoreau and published in The Liberator in 1845 that praised the abolitionist lecturer Wendell Phillips.


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.