Stratford To Winsted Via Waterbury And Torrington
( Originally Published 1919 )
R. 7. STRATFORD to WINSTED. 57.0 m. Via WATERBURY and TORRINGTON.
This route follows the course of the lower Housatonic to Derby and thence the valley of the Naugatuck river north-ward. Both the Housatonic and the Naugatuck rivers have worn deep gorges which offer scenic attractions. The easy grades along the river course make this not only an attractive but one of the favorite entrance routes to the Berkshires and New England, the course followed by the "Ideal Tour."
The Naugatuck river furnishes valuable waterpower, and it is along this valley that the brass and the Associated Clock industries are centered. About three quarters of the total brass production of the country is centered in this State, mostly in the Naugatuck valley, in spite of the fact that there is no supply of raw materials here. This is largely due to the energy and perseverance of the pioneers, which led early to the establishment of large and completely equipped plants, and to the fact that most of the skilled workmen in this industry are located in this region and it is difficult to get them to migrate.
Yet for miles along the course of the valley are stretches of rugged beauty—unspoiled forest and bold bluffs—that reward the lover of natural beauty. The route throughout is a recently completed Trunk Line State Highway, marked by blue bands on telegraph poles and fence posts.
R. 7 § 1. Stratford to Waterbury. 28.0 m.
From Stratford (p 89) the route follows the west bank of the Housatonic river, which is here a broad tidal estuary with a seven-foot channel at low water and a number of islands in mid-stream. The Yale rowing coaches will, beginning with 1916, train their crews on this stretch of water, which offers better rowing facilities than New Haven Harbor, heretofore used. The two-mile stretch from Derby to Two Mile Island forms an ideal rowing course with picturesque shores, and the Housatonic from Derby above Shelton offers a four-mile course. The new Yale Boathouse, to be located just below Derby, can be reached from New Haven by fast trolley past the Yale fields and the Yale Golf Course in thirty minutes.
10.0 SHELTON. Pop 4807. Fairfield Co. Settled 1675. Mfg. velvets, ribbons, pianos, tacks, silverware, pins, and metal beds.
Shelton lies opposite Derby at the junction of the Housatonic and the Naugatuck valleys. It is one of the prosperous manufacturing towns. It perpetuates the name of Edward N. Shelton, whose perseverance finally resulted in the construction of the Housatonic dam in 1870. This dam was three years in building; it is 686 feet long and 22 feet high. Among the larger factories are those of the Derby Silver Company, the Star Pin Company, and the Huntington Piano Company.
From the Square turn right, across the Housatonic river bridge, turning right with trolley into Main St.
10.5 DERBY. Alt 16 ft. Pop (twp) 8991. New Haven Co. Settled 1642. Indian name Paugamuc. Mfg. pins, castings, forgings, pianos, organs, keys, brass, and hardware.
Derby, a brass town, is situated on a headland at the junction of the two rivers.
This is an old town, first settled by John Wakeman on the Point between the two rivers where Birmingham now is. In 1675 the early settlers were granted "plantation privileges" and the town was named Derby. Derby Landing early became a shipping center, and as early as 1657 vessels passed regularly between Derby and Milford, and later between Derby and New York and even the West Indies. From 1750 to 1815 was a period of great commercial prosperity, but this declined, partly on account of the War of 1812, and in part because of the development of the turnpikes, which tended to shift the commerce via New Haven and Bridgeport. About this time, however, the foundations of the present manufacturing prosperity of the region were laid. A pioneer manufacturer was General David Humphreys, Washington's aide, and Minister to Portugal and Spain, who was born in Derby in 1752. He founded the town of Seymour further on. Isaac Hull, the famous commander of the old frigate "Constitution," was born at Derby in 1775. Sheldon Smith built the Naugatuck dam and canal in 1833. He interested Anson G. Phelps of New York in the community and induced him to build his "Big Copper Mill" here in 1836. This mill, on the site now occupied by the Alling Mills, marks the beginning of the copper and brass industry of this section of the valley. The manufacture of pins began at Derby in 1835 with the introduction of a machine that made a pin and its head in one operation. The industry spread to the surrounding towns, and now 65 per cent of the pins used in the United States are produced in this region.
The route follows Elizabeth St. upgrade, past the Monument, following the west bank of the Naugatuck. There are some fine old mansions on the heights overlooking the river.
On the opposite side is Ansonia, a town founded in 1838 by Anson G. Phelps and named for him. In 1869 the Phelps concern became the present Ansonia Brass & Copper Co., employing 1600 hands.
16.0 SEYMOUR. Alt 100 ft. Pop (twp) 4786. New Haven Co. Inc. 1850. Mfg. brass, copper, and hard rubber goods, plush, edged tools, horseshoe nails, telegraph cables, bicycle parts, and eyelets.
In 1806 the first factory in the United States for the making of woolen goods was erected here, and in 1808 the cloth for Thomas Jefferson's inaugural suit was made in this mill. General Humphreys built some extensive woolen mills here to introduce the best methods of making broadcloths, and imported skilled workmen from England, and merino sheep from Spain. The Humphreysville Copper Company, established here in 1849, was another enterprise of Anson Phelps, but was taken over by the New Haven Copper Company in 1855. The present Humphreysville Manufacturing Company occupies the buildings of the old concern which bore that name and took over the General Humphreys interests.
At Seymour the route crosses the Naugatuck river, and, marked by blue bands, follows from here the eastern bank northward through the industrial village of Beacon Falls (19.5).
23.5 NAUGATUCK. Alt 194 ft. Pop (twp) 12,722. New Haven Co. Inc. 1844. Mfg. rubber goods, knit underwear, hosiery, buttons, copper and brass plating, gas and electric fixtures, and cut glass.
Naugatuck, a pleasant old town, has given its name to the river and the valley. The word is derived from an Indian phrase, Nau-ko-tunk, "one large tree," from a lofty tree which once stood on Rock Rimmon near the Falls Station. On the outskirts of the village is the historic old Porter House where Washington once made his headquarters. The chief manufacturers of the town are the Dunham Hosiery Company, the Goodyear Indian Rubber Glove Company, and the Goodyear Metal Rubber Shoe Company.
Leaving Naugatuck the route follows trolley, beside the river, into South Main St. to Center Square.
28.0 WATERBURY (R. 3,P 208).
R. 7 § 2. Waterbury to Winsted. 29.0 m.
Leaving Waterbury, the route follows West Main St., turning north on Thomaston Ave., following blue bands, along the Naugatuck river, through the hamlet of Waterville (3.o), where Hancock Brook joins the river. The valley here has a depth below the surrounding highlands of about S00 feet. This region is known in a general way as the Litchfield Hills. At 7.5 turn left across R.R., crossing the Naugatuck at Reynolds Bridge, and take the lefthand road to Litchfield, following blue bands. On the right is the Seth Thomas Clock factory, organized in 1853; it employs nearly 1000 hands and manufactures annually 400,000 clocks.
9.5 THOMASTON. Alt 378 ft. Pop (twp) 3533. Litchfield Co. Inc. 1875. Mfg. clocks, watches, and brass goods.
Thomaston, the `clock town,' is in the midst of some of the finest scenery of the valley.
Seth Thomas (1785-1859) was a carpenter in New Haven: In 1813 he migrated to the little hamlet of Plymouth, now Thomaston, and with two partners began to manufacture clocks. Later he became the sole proprietor of perhaps the largest clock factory in America, whose product is so wellknown all over the world.
The route continues to follow the narrow valley of the Naugatuck through Fluteville and Campville. A mile to the east is the old town of Plymouth. Oliver Ames, progenitor of the numerous Ameses (North Easton, R. 32), was born here, and invented and manufactured a cannon of heavy iron rings welded together. The route passes through the quiet village of East Litchfield (17.0), four miles west of which is the dignified old town of Litchfield (p 276). Following the blue markers along the valley and crossing the river, the road leads into Main St.
20.0 TORRINGTON. Alt 593 ft. Pop (twp) 16,840; (vil) 15,483. Litchfield Co. Settled 1734. Mfg. sheet and rolled brass, gold plated goods, iron, brass, copper, and speller castings, needles, machines, cycle spokes and pedals, nails, woolen goods, and piano hardware.
Torrington is a thriving industrial town, encircled by the Litchfield Hills. The house in which John Brown of Harpers Ferry fame was born, in 1800, is still preserved in its original form by the John Brown Association. Other noteworthy natives are Samuel J. Mills, `Father of Foreign Missions in America,' born in 1783, and Collis P. Huntington, one of the five men who built a railroad to the Pacific Coast.
In 1806 this settlement was known as New Orleans Village, or `Mast Swamp,e because of the pine trees on its hillsides, much used for ship-building. In 18x3 some of the Wolcotts of Litchfield, impressed by the local waterpower, bought land and built a woolen mill, whereupon the village was called Wolcottville. It eventually became Torrington in 1881, and an incorporated borough in 1887. The townes prosperity dates from 1863. Its principal firms are the Coe Brass Manufacturing Company, the Turner & Seymour Manufacturing Company, the Union Hardware Company, the Excelsior Needle Company, the Hendey Machine Company, the Torrington Manufacturing Company, Hotchkiss Brothers Company, the Warrenton Woolen Company, the Standard Company, and the Progressive Manufacturing Company.
Leaving Torrington by Main St., and crossing the river, the route follows the State Highway through the valley of Still River, past the hamlet of Burrville (25.o), to
29.0 WINSTED. All 724 ft. Pop 7754. Litchfield Co. Settled 1756. Mfg. clocks, silk goods, hosiery, cutlery, pins, tools, hardware, leather, chairs, bronzes, lamps, derricks, sashes, and doors.
Winsted is a beautiful borough in the town of Winchester, among the Litchfield Hills. The name was coined from Winchester and Barkhamsted, the name of the adjoining town-
ship. The Mad river, which here unites with the Still river, furnishes valuable waterpower, supporting thriving and varied industries.
In the central part of the borough, in the Park,_ there is a sixty-foot tower in memory of the soldiers of Winsted who fell in the Civil War. In another Park there is a Soldiers' Monument and a memorial fountain. The Gilbert High School and the William L. Gilbert Home for friendless children were each endowed with more than $600,000 by William L. Gilbert, a prominent citizen. The Old Mill house, built by David Austin in 1771, was the first frame house in the village. The Colonial mansion built by Solomon Rockwell in 1813 is now the home of Miss Mary P. Hinsdale. Rose Terry Cooke (1827-92), the writer of stories and poems, lived here in an old Colonial house still standing. To the southwest of the town, Highland Lake is encircled by Wakefield Boulevard, a seven-mile drive, along which are many summer cottages.
Clock-making is the chief industry of the town. Those wooden clocks that are so highly prized as heirlooms were manufactured here as early as 1807 by Hoadley & Whiting, and the Wm. L. Gilbert Clock Company is the direct outgrowth of this earlier firm. It is one of the largest in the world exclusively devoted to clock-making. The Winsted Mfg. Company, makers of scythes, is the oldest industrial firm in the town. The plant of the New England Pin Company, on Bridge St., turns out 15,000,000 pins a day, weighing a ton. Among the other manufacturing concerns are Geo. Dudley & Son, leather manufacturers, established in 1831; the Strong Mfg. Company, undertakerse materials; the Winsted Silk Company; the Winsted Hosiery Company; and the New England Knitting Company.
The State Highway running east and west from Canaan to Hartford passes through Winsted, marked by yellow bands on poles and posts. The State Highway from Stratford to Winsted is continued northward to the State line. This route is to be marked by blue bands on poles, and goes through Robertsville and Colebrook River, near the Massachusetts boundary, whence a Massachusetts State Highway is now being constructed through New Boston and Otis to West Becket.