September 24: Connecticut’s Last Whaling Voyage

  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: Climax Fuse Company Explosion Ignites a Human Tragedy.

  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…

August 23: Famous Aviator Wiley Post Visits Connecticut

  Today in 1933, Wiley Post, one of the most famous pilots in the world, flew into Hartford’s Brainard Field, just a few weeks after completing a record-breaking solo flight around the world. In the 1930s, Wiley Post was a household name second only to Charles Lindbergh in terms of famous American aviators. Post, a…

August 5: The Statue of Liberty’s Connecticut Cornerstone

  While scores of Connecticut men and women have left an indelible mark on American history, sometimes it’s easy to forget that objects from Connecticut can have their own stories of national significance, too. In fact, some of the most monumental objects in Connecticut history can be traced to a single point of origin: a…

May 13: Hartford’s Pope Company Debuts Electric Automobile in 1897

  On this date in 1897, outside his factory in Hartford, successful bicycle manufacturer Albert Augustus Pope unveiled what he considered to be the future of the automobile industry: the battery-powered Columbia Motor Carriage.  It was the first demonstration of a mass-produced electric car in American history. Weighing in at 1800 pounds and reaching a…

April 25: Winchester Takes Aim At The Rifle Industry.

  In early 1857, businessman Oliver Winchester bought a controlling interest in a struggling Connecticut firearms company from two inventors by the name of Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson (who would soon move to Massachusetts to found a second and successful eponymous firearms venture of their own).  With access to machine tools, raw materials, and…

April 13: Eli Terry, Revolutionary Inventor and Clockmaker

  Eli Terry, the man who revolutionized clock manufacturing and whose timepieces have been featured in millions of American homes, was born in South Windsor (then a part of East Windsor), Connecticut on this day in 1772. Terry was a mechanical engineering prodigy who set his ambitions into motion at an early age, apprenticing himself…

April 12: Invention of the Portable Typewriter

  On this day in 1892, George Canfield Blickensderfer of Stamford patented the first successful portable typewriter, one of the most transformative examples of Yankee ingenuity to ever come from the Constitution State. Blickensderfer’s machine used a radical, minimalist design that contained up to 90% fewer parts than the heavier, more complicated desk typewriters that…

March 28: Aquaculture Comes Out Of Its Shell.

  By the time the U.S. Bureau of Commercial Fisheries first assigned a resident scientist to study Connecticut’s shellfish industry in the 1920s, Connecticut residents had been harvesting oysters and clams from the waters of Long Island Sound for hundreds of years.  Created in the late 19th century, the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries’ mission was…

February 26: The Rise and Fall of Manchester’s Silk Industry

  Of all the many factories and diverse industries that sprang up across Connecticut during the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century, one of the longest-lasting was the silk-spinning industry, which coalesced around the Cheney Brothers silk mills in the town of Manchester. Opening their first silk-processing mill in 1838, the Cheney brothers sought…