September 8: “Old Nan” Comes to the End of the Line

  When  Amtrak’s Northeast Regional train 67  crossed the Niantic River  on its nighttime  run from Boston to New York at 11:39 p.m. on September 7, 2012, it was the last train ever to travel on “Old Nan,” the 105 year old railroad drawbridge  between East Lyme and Waterford,  a historic “choke point” on the nation’s busiest rail line.  At…

August 10: The First Union General to Die in the Civil War

  Today in 1861, Eastford’s Nathaniel Lyon – a little-known figure the day before – instantly became one of the most celebrated figures in the United States when he was shot in the chest at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, making him the first Union General to die in the Civil War. Lyon’s death came as the…

March 14: The “King of Diamonds” Was A Connecticut History Gem

  Few people did more to shape twentieth-century popular culture in Connecticut than the man they called “the King of Diamonds” – the jeweler and marketing genius Bill Savitt, who died  today in 1995, at age 94. Savitt combined a  P. T. Barnum-worthy sense of marketing possibilities with a passion for sports and philanthropy to…

February 27: The Man Who Defined “Early America” for the Greatest Generation

  Many Americans think of Eric Sloane as the man whose paintings, drawings, books, and stories defined early American life, work, culture, and values to a post-World-War-II generation of proud and patriotic Americans.  But even a cursory examination of Sloane’s extraordinarily diverse accomplishments reveals him to be a true Renaissance person, one of the most…

February 6: The “Blizzard of ’78” Takes Connecticut by Storm

  Today in 1978,  Connecticans went to work well aware that snow –possibly even heavy snow –  was predicted,  if  a storm developing off the North Carolina Coast fully lived up to its “impressive potential.” But the snow that was supposed to have begun falling during the night had not materialized, nor had the predicted…

February 4: Woodstock Helps A New Nation Create a New Kind of Education

  Today in1802, responding to post-revolutionary war Connecticans’ desire for secondary education suited to the needs of a new kind of nation,  the Woodstock Academy, Connecticut’s oldest coeducational secondary school, welcomed its first students. It’s creation helped mark a  new era in the state support of secondary education and  was a key event of in…

December 24th: The Ghost Ship Sails Into New London

  Perhaps no object symbolizes the importance of craftsmanship and historic preservation better than the ghost ship Captain James Buddington and a skeleton crew of 11 sailed into New London harbor on Christmas Eve 1855. The prize vessel, which the veteran whaler had discovered abandoned on an ice floe off Baffin Island three months before,…

September 27: The Man Who Made Long Wharf the Longest in the United States

  Though the name Long Wharf is today associated with a number of shops, businesses, ships and projects along the New Haven coastline (not to mention Allen wrenches and cinnamon buns), it originally referred to an actual wharf that extended into the harbor, reaching three-quarters of a mile out into deep water. The wharf construction…

September 22: The Man Who Proved We Are What We Eat

  Wilbur Olin Atwater, who died today in 1907, was a nineteenth-century pioneer in nutrition science who talked about food and metabolism 150 years ago in a way that would seem totally at home on the pages of a health magazine or nutrition brochure today. The son of a New York minister and librarian, Atwater…