February 14: A Towering Monument to Connecticut Industry

  In the rural town of East Canaan there stands a curious rectangular tower along the banks of the Blackberry River, constructed of massive slabs of marble, forty feet high and thirty feet wide at its base.  The tower is the last surviving example of the 19th century blast furnaces that were once common across…

February 11: Charles Dickens visits New Haven

  On the evening of February 7, 1842, three words spread throughout the streets of New Haven like wildfire, causing crowds of people to rush toward the city’s downtown Toutine Hotel: “Dickens has come!”  Just before 8:00pm that night, Charles Dickens had arrived at the city’s Union Station, traveling by rail from Hartford.  The man…

February 10: “General Tom Thumb” Marries “The Queen of Beauty”

  Born in 1838 in Bridgeport, Connecticut, legendary entertainer Charles Sherwood Stratton, a.k.a. “Tom Thumb,” began touring with the internationally famous showman and fellow Connectican P. T. Barnum at the tender age of five.  Stratton had first attracted Barnum’s attention because of his unusually small size — Stratton was a dwarf who never grew taller…

February 8: Defending the West from the Worst

  A descendant of the Joseph Wadsworth who protected his colony’s charter by hiding it in the legendary Charter Oak, Elijah Wadsworth would also be tasked with saving his people’s government. Not from a takeover, however, but from a British invasion. And not in Connecticut, but in in the part of Ohio once owned by…

February 7: Electric Boat Begins a Century of Submarine Building

  For over 100 years, Electric Boat has been the primary producer of submarines for the United States and allied countries around the world.  From its headquarters and shipyard in Groton, Connecticut, and auxiliary shipyards located in Quonset, RI and Newport News, VA, Electric Boat has designed and built dozens of technologically-advanced submarines for the…

February 6: John Trumbull’s Paintings Revolutionize the U.S. Capitol

  At birth, few would have expected John Trumbull to live to age one, much less eighty-seven. Yet the infant born suffering multiple seizures daily slowly overcame that condition, and went on to spend a lifetime trying also to overcome his father’s censure of painting as a demeaning profession. In the process, he painted some…

February 4: Colt Firearms Factory Destroyed By Fire

    On the morning of February 4, 1864, just after 8:00am, the loud, sharp, incessant tones of a steam whistle pierced the air in Hartford, alerting city residents to danger.  As men and women rushed toward the source of the noise in the city’s south end, they were shocked to find the massive East…

January 31: Danbury’s Kohanza Dam Bursts

  In 1860, residents living in Danbury, Connecticut banded together to build a large, earthen dam to create a reservoir that would provide a steady water supply for the town’s steadily-increasing population and burgeoning factories.  A few years later, they built a second dam about a mile downriver, and the structures became known as the…

January 29: Time Runs Out for Seth Thomas, American Clockmaker

    While Connecticut has been home to many of the greatest names in American clock manufacturing, few have achieved more household recognition than Seth Thomas, whose name is emblazoned on countless clock faces throughout the world.  Born in Wolcott, Connecticut in 1785, young Seth received little formal education, instead gaining hands-on experience in the…

January 28: The World’s First Commercial Telephone Exchange

  In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a U.S. Patent for the first practical telephone design, ushering in one of the most revolutionary devices of the late 19th century.  The earliest telephones, however, were extremely limited: they allowed for communication between two receivers, but only if they were directly connected by a single wire.  It…

January 26: The Provocative Postmaster General

  Today in 1802, Gideon Granger of Suffield took office as the nation’s fourth postmaster general, ushering in a new era for the U.S. postal service — for better and for worse.  A Yale graduate, Granger practiced law in his hometown of Suffield and served in the Connecticut General Assembly beginning in 1792.  Following an…

January 15: They Got On the Wrong Train.

  Today in 1878, right after hearing the famed evangelist Dwight Moody preach that “repentance is grabbing your bag and coat and getting out of the wrong train and onto the right one”, a group of revival-attending passengers in Hartford boarded a specially-ordered train that took them to one of Connecticut’s deadliest train disasters.  When…