November 19: Bold as Brass, The Silver City Goes International

  Today in 1898, the International Silver Company, one of Connecticut’s most famous and globally recognized brands, was formally incorporated in Meriden. The central Connecticut city had already established a national reputation as a leading producer of silver and silver-plated goods by the late 19th century, earning it the nickname “the Silver City.” By 1898,…

November 2: Introducing the “Best Built Car in America”

  Today in 1902,  former race car driver Andrew Riker, personally drove the first production model of the luxury $4000,  four-cylinder, gasoline-powered car he had designed, engineered and manufactured in Bridgeport  into New York City to present it to its new owner. Since its founding in 1899, the Locomobile Company, whose headquarters and main factory…

October 22: A Poor Yankee Peddler from Harwinton Becomes a Railroad Tycoon

  Collis Potter Huntington was born today in 1822, the sixth of nine children born to William and Elizabeth Huntington of Harwinton, Connecticut. The Huntington family, owners of a farm in a section of Harwinton fittingly known as “Poverty Hollow,” constantly struggled to make ends meet, forcing Collis to set off on his own as…

September 15: Catastrophe at the Climax Fuse Company.

  Today in 1905, an employee using a hot iron to clear fuse debris from a reeling machine touched off a muffled explosion in the main building of the Climax Fuse factory in Avon. Though the blast was barely heard 300 feet away, the sheets of flame it triggered instantly engulfed the factory, suffocating seven…

September 1: Connecticut’s Unknown Industrial Genius

  The largely unknown man at the center of Connecticut’s 19th century industrial greatness – Elisha King Root – died in Hartford today in 1865. Root’s machine tool genius first revolutionized axe production in Collinsville and then made the Colt Firearms Company a worldwide icon of precision manufacturing. Born in western Massachusetts in 1808, Root…

August 11: A Piano Maker’s Play to Cut Insurance Rates Nets Him Millions

  As the Industrial Revolution transformed American market towns into industrial cities during the 19th century, the risk of urban fires – always a hazard – sharply increased. This was especially true in the era that preceded the establishment of building and fire codes. In response to the sharp increase in fire-related damage claims in…

August 7: Connecticut Grinds to an Angry Halt

  Today in 1919, Connecticut companies throughout the state were effectively shuttered as thousands of workers across a multitude of different industries joined in a massive regional strike that, within the course of a week, spread from Maine to New York and brought New England commerce to a screeching halt. Connecticut, like many other states…

July 11: The Neptune Returns with Astonishing Wealth

  Today in 1799, the merchant ship Neptune sailed into New Haven harbor after an absence of two years and eight months with the most lucrative haul of cargo Connecticut had ever seen. Captained by New Haven native Daniel Green, the Neptune set sail in late 1797 with a crew of 45 “young, sturdy, and…

June 6: In the Skies of France, A D-Day Message From Mom

  In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, Private Robert C. Hillman became one of over 13,000 American paratroopers to leap out of a plane over Normandy as part of the “D-Day” invasion of occupied France — one of the largest offensives of World War II. A member of the legendary 101st Airborne…

June 4: America’s First “Lemon Law”

  Today in 1982, in response to an increasing number of consumer complaints about seriously defective new automobiles (colloquially called “lemons”), the Connecticut legislature passed the nation’s first “Lemon Law.” Introduced by freshman representative John J. Woodcock III of South Windsor, the law was loosely modeled on a set of consumer protections for automobile buyers…