August 15: Celebrating A Century of Suntans and Sojourns

 

On August 15, 2013, the Connecticut State Parks system celebrated its centennial by launching a Summer Outdoor “Sojourn” (a portmanteau of “Summer Outdoor Journey”) that linked the northeast and southwest corners of the state in a single, 195-mile journey. The Sojourn began in Quaddick State Park in Thompson and ended in Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, and including biking, hiking, and paddling trails intended to showcase some of the best outdoor activities the State Park system had to offer. While many visitors enjoyed traveling the Sojourn one segment at a time, a small group of about twenty people undertook the Sojourn in a singled journey, completing the nearly 200-mile trek over a span of eleven days.

Although many Connecticut towns and municipalities had created  beautiful parks dedicated for public use by the early 20th century, no single statewide organization existed to manage parks and recreation until Governor Simeon Baldwin convened a six-member State Park Commission in 1913. Over the next 100 years Connecticut undertook the development and management of 108 state parks, which today are overseen by the state’s Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Collectively, state parks remain one of Connecticut’s most visited attractions, and draw  over 8 million  visitors every year.

Further Reading

State Parks History,” Connecticut Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection website

Connecticut State Parks: A Centennial Overview,” Connecticut Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection brochure [PDF file]

A History of CT State Parks: 1913-2013,” Connecticut Dept. of Energy & Environmental Protection [YouTube video]