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 4: A Canal for Connecticut

  On July 4, 1825, surrounding a canal-boat-on-wheels specially created for the occasion, thousands of Connecticans  gathered at Salmon Brook Village in Granby for ground-breaking on what was then the largest transportation project in Connecticut history – the Farmington Canal. Governor Oliver Wolcott spoke briefly before digging the ceremonial first shovel of dirt, officially kicking…

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…

December 4: The Great East Thompson Train Wreck

  Today in 1891, one of the largest train disasters in American history — and the only one to involve four different trains — occurred outside of the small town of East Thompson.  Located in the extreme northeast corner of the state, nestled right against the Massachusetts and Rhode Island borders, the tracks in East…

October 22: From Yankee Peddler to Railroad Tycoon

  Collis Potter Huntington was born on this day in 1822, the sixth of nine children born to William and Elizabeth Huntington of Harwinton, Connecticut.  The Huntington family, owners of a farm in a section of Harwinton fittingly known as “Poverty Hollow,” constantly struggled to make ends meet, forcing Collis to set off on his…

October 10: “Father of American Civil Engineering” Born in Wethersfield

  Benjamin Wright, the chief engineer behind some of the most famous civil engineering projects in United States history — including the Erie Canal — was born to Grace and Ebenezer Wright of Wethersfield on this day in 1770.   Ebenezer’s accumulated debts had forced young Benjamin to forego most of his formal schooling to take…