July 13: Legislator P.T. Barnum Speaks While His Museum Burns

  On this day 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…

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: The I-95 Mianus River Bridge Collapses

  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 in one of the most infamous American bridge disasters of the 20th century. Three people died and three more were seriously injured as a car and two tractor-trailers careened…

April 14: Titanic Sinks with 33 Connecticans Aboard

On this day in 1912, the ocean liner RMS Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic ocean and sank, killing over 1,500 passengers and crew in one of the most infamous disasters of the 20th century.  The Titanic was the world’s largest ship afloat at the time, billed with great fanfare and bravado as…

March 27: Staffordville Dam Burst Causes Cascading Chaos

  During the second half of the nineteenth 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 of 1888

  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 had called for “fair weather, followed by rain.”  Later that morning, amid moderate snowfall, most…

March 2: A Deadly Accident Leads to Hartford’s First Hospital

  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: Edward Malley’s Department Store Disaster

  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 denizens out of his aunt’s front parlor to purchasing a modest storefront of his own on Chapel Street in 1852,…

February 4: Colt Firearms Factory Destroyed By 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: Danbury’s Kohanza Dam Bursts

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

January 18: Hartford Civic Center Roof Collapses

  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.  When…