December 31: Cutting-Edge Teamwork Turns A Starr Into A Star

  As a major in the Continental Army, Nathan Starr forged and repaired weapons as part of his service during the Revolutionary War. After the war was over, Starr returned to his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut, and made a living manufacturing blades of a different sort: mostly agricultural tools like scythes for local farmers. In…

December 22: Newgate Prison Jails Its First Inmate. But Not For Long.

  Today in 1773, Newgate Prison, the first penal institution to open in Connecticut, received its very first prisoner: 20-year-old John Hinson, who had been convicted of burglary and sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment. Newgate Prison was built on the site of a former copper mine in East Granby which had opened in 1705…

December 1: PEZ Candy Opens Wide in Orange

  Today, PEZ candy conjures up images of whimsical plastic dispensers full of small, brick-shaped little candies. First invented in Austria in the early 20th century, PEZ candy has quite a storied history — one that visitors can learn for themselves with a visit to the PEZ Visitors Center in Orange, Connecticut, which first opened…

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…

September 24: Connecticut’s Whaling Industry Sets Sail For Extinction

  In the 19th century, New London, Connecticut was one of the busiest whaling hubs in the entire world, outranked only by Nantucket and New Bedford, Massachusetts. Whale oil was a crucial and versatile resource that played a huge role in powering the Industrial Revolution, serving as both fuel for lamps and as a lubricant…

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 23: Circumnavigating Celebrity Aviator Lands in Connecticut

  Today in 1933, the man whose fame as a fearless American aviation pioneer was second only to that of  Charles Lindbergh, flew into Hartford’s Brainard Field just  weeks after completing a record-breaking solo flight around the world. His career was more remarkable because of the accident that gave rise to it. As a young…