March 27: Staffordville Dam Burst Causes 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 Completely 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…

January 18: Where Were You When the Roof Caved In?

  At 4:19am on January 18, 1978, downtown Hartford narrowly missed being the site of one of the deadliest disasters in American history when the entire roof of the Hartford Civic Center arena — covering an area of nearly 2.5 acres and weighing 1,400 tons — suddenly collapsed onto a coliseum of 10,000 empty seats….

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….

January 14: Chain-Reaction Tragedy at the Hazardville Gunpowder Mill

The community of Hazardville, Connecticut unintentionally lived up to its name today in 1913, when an errant spark of unknown origin caused a deadly chain reaction of four massive explosions at the Hazard Powder Company. Situated on the banks of the Scantic River in the southern half of the town of Enfield, the Hazard Powder…

January 13: Charles Nelson Reilly, Actor and Hartford Circus Fire Survivor

  Born today in 1931, Charles Nelson Reilly was a Tony-Award-winning actor, comedian, and beloved TV personality best known for his appearances as a campy character actor on countless game shows, sitcoms, and movies in the 1960s through the 1980s. Later in life, he focused more on directing and voice acting, and after his death…

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…