History
Read stories about the rich history of the Connecticut River; stories of early colonial settlers, native Indian tribes, their art and culture, the history of river steamboats, shipbuilding, covered bridges and more.

Practical Beauty

August 31, 2022

On a fine spring day in May, a morning mist rises as snowmelt from the peaks of Vermont and New Hampshire spills over the long slope of Holyoke’s granite dam....

Charter Oak

August 31, 2022

It’s hard to believe that a tree could save a democracy, but according to legend, that’s exactly what happened when Sir Edmund Andros arrived in the Connecticut colony in 1687 to collect the royal charter given to the Puritan settlers by King Charles II in 1662....

Hetty Green

May 31, 2022

Queen of Wall Street, Witch of Wall Street. Whichever sobriquet you use, Henrietta (Hetty) Howland Robinson Green was one of the richest Americans—ever....

The Lost Continents of the Connecticut River

May 31, 2022

Spattered with glacial detritus, it is an area of rocky dells and ridges, cut by Roaring Brook as it tumbles down toward Whalebone Cove on the Connecticut River. Red Oaks and White Pines march up the hill, with patches of hornbeams and black birch....

Worlds Apart

May 31, 2022

The Connecticut River cradles the city of Middletown (f. 1653) at a modest bend in its course, a place originally called Mattabesset, Algonquin for “end of the carrying place.”...

Gamboling on the Frozen River

December 1, 2021

It was always colder way back when, back in the day, at least according to the ancient ones—generations of parents and grandparents. It turns out they were correct....

My Ride Down Hog River

December 1, 2021

I knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity the minute I got the call—a chance to go where few people have been before without leaving Connecticut....

A Man’s Home is His Castle

September 1, 2021

From the deck of the Aunt Polly, William Gillette watched the passing green hills of the lower Connecticut River. It was 1913, he was sixty years old, and he had been thinking about retirement....

Mabel Osgood Wright

September 1, 2021

Three miles from the Connecticut River, we stood in a circle under a tree in the garden of Emily Dickinson’s home, reading poems, passing a book around, no more than two or three feet from each other. The 1813 Amherst home built for her grandparents stood proudly in the sunshine, and the voices of another tour group filtered out....

Lydia Sigourney

May 29, 2021

Three miles from the Connecticut River, we stood in a circle under a tree in the garden of Emily Dickinson’s home, reading poems, passing a book around, no more than two or three feet from each other. The 1813 Amherst home built for her grandparents stood proudly in the sunshine, and the voices of another tour group filtered out....

The Forgotten Flood of 1936

March 1, 2021

On March 11, 1936, rain began to fall on the hills of Vermont and New Hampshire. The next day it didn’t stop, nor the next, depositing at least five inches of water over New England. The snowfall had been heavy that winter, and as snowbanks washed off the hills, people stared nervously at the rapidly rising levels of their local streams and rivers....

A Small Bead Called Wampum

March 1, 2021

We all like to visit the beach in warm weather. We like to stick our toes in the sand, wade in the water, maybe collect a few shells. The Native Peoples of the Connecticut shore and estuaries did just that hundreds of years ago. For them, certain shellfish not only fed the body but sustained the spirit as well. Quahog clams and large whelks were of particular importance for the creation of a small bead called wampum....

Qwannitucket

November 29, 2020

Qwannitucket, the Long Tidal River land known as the Connecticut River Valley, is the living pulse of this region currently known as New England. This article, which focuses on the lower valley of the Connecticut River, is intended to raise awareness in modern society about the beautiful resource that connects north to south, mountains to ocean, the swimmers, winged, four-legged, two-legged, and all the living beings known and unknown that dwell here....

The Hartford Wits & the World They Made

November 29, 2020

On the west shore of the Connecticut River, the town of Hartford bustled in the morning light. People gathered at the market on the town green, in taverns, and in coffeehouses, where a few years earlier the local secret society might have planned a revolution, spurred on by the demon caffeine....

VENTURE SMITH’S LONG STRUGGLE

November 29, 2020

In 1776, at the dawn of the American Revolution, Venture Smith stood on the banks of the Connecticut River a free man. He had his own farm, his wife and child lived with him, and he had a prosperous 130-acre farm in the village of East Haddam. It had taken him a long time to get there, and the journey was not of his own choosing....

From the Publisher:

November 29, 2020

This issue of Estuary contains our first article by a descendant of Indigenous people. These people inhabited North and South America for thousands of years, maybe 12,000 years, long before the word “America” existed....

Crossing the Bar

November 29, 2020

There’s a sailor superstition about changing a boat’s name. State of New York, largest and costliest steamer ever to run on the Connecticut River, was to be called Vermont....

Colt

November 29, 2020

Heading up the Connecticut River, just below downtown Hartford, the west bank reveals an incongruous vision. Eyes are pulled to a blue, onion-shaped dome, spangled with golden stars and tipped with a rampant colt finial....

A Witch Hazel Winter

September 1, 2020

Walking through the Connecticut River Valley woodlands in the autumn, you might happen upon a large understory plant with gentle golden star-flowers and few leaves, a strange anomaly this late in the year. This is witch hazel, sometimes called spotted alder or winterbloom, and grows throughout New England, appearing to be a large, irregular shrub or small tree....

John Ledyard’s Journey

June 1, 2020

The year 2020 notches a notable anniversary in the annals of the Connecticut River. It is the centennial year of Dartmouth’s Ledyard Canoe Club. Each spring their cadres of collegiate canoeists replicate the legendary paddle their progenitor took in May of 1773. His adventure is the most famous canoe journey in the long history of the River....