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Sign commemorating Pepperell history installed at Rail Trail

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PEPPERELL — A new sign has been installed at the Nashua River Rail Trail as it passes through Railroad Square pointing visitors in the direction of Pepperell’s historic covered bridge.

The sign was installed last week to entice people from the trail to come down to the covered bridge, said Diane Cronin, chair of the Pepperell Historic Commission and the Covered Bridge Committee.

“It’s a sign with a full color picture of the covered bridge to bring people from the rail trail down into town to look at landmarks and perhaps to fall in love with our town and its history and to want to visit or live here,” Cronin said. “This sign will get people’s attention.”

The front of the sign features a picture of the covered bridge and a line about Prudence Wright. Wright was a Pepperell resident who, in 1775, led a group of women dressed as men to capture an enemy messenger as he passed over the bridge, now the location of the covered bridge.

“The historic Covered Bridge dates back to 1848. A woman patriot, Prudence Wright, captured a British spy at the site of the Covered Bridge during the Revolutionary War in April of 1775,” that side of the sign reads.

The other side of the sign shows a picture of the Bunker Hill monument in Boston with a statue of Col. William Prescott in front of it.

“Colonel Prescott is one of Pepperell’s most famous citizens. He is remembered as the commander of the American forces in the redoubt at the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17,1775, where he’s believed to have said, ‘Do not fire until you see the whites of their eyes,'” the other side reads.

“We think a lot of people are going to get excited that someone from Pepperell is believed to have said that and been so instrumental in the birth of our nation,” Cronin said.

The sign is a product of 10 months of work to raise money to fund the sign, she said, and get permission from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation to have it installed.

The sign was paid for through donations from the Covered Bridge Committee, members of the Historical Commission and the Col. Prescott Statue Committee, she said.

Cronin said she hopes the sign will be the first of several marking Pepperell’s historic landmarks.

The sign is an important complement to the Prudence Wright Overlook next to the Covered Bridge, she said, which was completed in 2010 to commemorate Wright’s actions.

“It’s a nice way to learn about our history in a beautiful and natural setting,” Cronin said.

Follow Chelsea Feinstein at feinstein or on Twitter or Tout @cefeinstein.