Charles Bahne is a Boston historian and tour guide, and author of author of The Complete Guide to Boston’s Freedom Trail. Charlie graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a major in Urban Studies and Planning, focusing on urban history and tourism. He then worked in some of the city’s historic sites and museums, and became a seasonal Park Ranger with Boston National Historical Park. He left the National Park Service in 1985 to publish his Freedom Trail book, which has now sold more than 400,000 copies. Since 1997, Charlie has also taught many Exploritas (formerly Elderhostel) programs about Boston and its role in the American Revolution.
Several years ago, Charlie began researching Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem about “Paul Revere’s Ride.” At first he was merely trying to find the correct version of the poem’s text, having seen a number of variants published elsewhere. His research has led to some surprising discoveries about the poem and its history.
Charlie grew up in Indianapolis where, as a sixth-grader, he had to memorize Longfellow’s famous poem. Two years later, the cover photo on his eighth-grade American history textbook showed Paul Revere’s statue in Boston’s North End, with the Old North Church steeple behind the midnight rider. And one of his first memories of exploring Boston as a college student is of discovering that statue by accident, when he was lost, looking for something else.