September 23: The First Hurricane in 180 Years Slams into Connecticut

  On the morning of September 23, 1815, the first major hurricane to hit New England in 180 years made landfall at Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Since the word “hurricane” was virtually unknown in early America, residents later identified the monstrous storm as the “Great Storm” or “Great Gale” of September 1815. With estimated sustained winds…

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…

July 13: P. T. Barnum’s Greatest Performance Wasn’t on a Stage

  Today in 1865, Connecticut’s Greatest Showman Phineas Taylor “P T” Barnum was as busy as ever – but not on a stage or in a tent. Rather, he was giving an impassioned speech in the Connecticut legislature, where he was serving his first of several terms as a state representative. The seasoned showbiz veteran…

July 6: The Hartford Circus Fire

  What began as an innocent day at the circus ended in one of the worst fire disasters in U.S. history, today in 1944. In early July of that year, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus had set up one of their largest “Big Top” tents in a field in Hartford’s North End…

June 28: Disaster on the I-95 Mianus River Bridge

  Early in the morning of June 28th, 1983, at around 1:30 am, a 100-foot span of Interstate 95 in Greenwich collapsed into the Mianus River. It was one of the most infamous American bridge disasters of the 20th century. Three people died and three more were seriously injured, when a car and two tractor-trailers…

March 27: Dam Bursts in Staffordville Cause Cascading Chaos

  During the second half of the 19th century, as more and more mills and factories popped up along the banks of the Willimantic River’s northern branch in eastern Connecticut, a number of factory owners banded together to form the Stafford (or Staffordville) Reservoir Company with the aim of regulating the flow of water that…

March 12: The “Great White Hurricane” Paralyzes Connecticut.

  When snow started falling across the state in the early hours of March 12, 1888, Connecticut residents thought nothing of it. It wasn’t unusual to have light to moderate snowfall in early March, and the forecast for that day called for “fair weather, followed by rain.” Later that morning, amid moderate snowfall, most Connecticans…

March 2: A Great and Deadly Accident Finds a City Unprepared

  Around 2:00pm on March 2, 1854, a deafening blast rocked the Dutch Point neighborhood of Hartford following the explosion of a massive steam boiler at the Fales & Gray Car Works factory. The force of the explosion blew out the eight-inch-thick brick walls encasing the factory’s boiler room, causing the roof to cave in…

February 28: Fire & Murder – Edward Malley’s Very Worst Winter

  February 1882 was not a very good month for New Haven businessman Edward Malley. The ambitious son of Irish immigrants, Malley had worked his way up from selling assorted dry goods to Elm City residents out of his aunt’s front parlor to purchasing a modest storefront on Chapel Street in 1852, making home deliveries…

February 4: Colt Arms Factory Destroyed By Suspicious 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: A Double Dam Disaster in Danbury

  In 1860, residents living in Danbury, Connecticut banded together to build a large, earthen dam to create a reservoir that would provide a sufficient 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…