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 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 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…

February 21: The World’s First “Phone Book”

  Thanks to Connecticut inventor and innovator George Coy, the city of New Haven can lay claim to a number of “firsts” related to the early development and adaptation of the telephone.  Not even two years after Alexander Graham Bell first patented the revolutionary communication device, Coy and his company had implemented a number of…

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 29: Time Runs Out for Seth Thomas, American Clockmaker

    While Connecticut has been home to many of the greatest names in American clock manufacturing, few have achieved more household recognition than Seth Thomas, whose name is emblazoned on countless clock faces throughout the world.  Born in Wolcott, Connecticut in 1785, young Seth received little formal education, instead gaining hands-on experience in the…

January 28: The World’s First Commercial Telephone Exchange

  In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a U.S. Patent for the first practical telephone design, ushering in one of the most revolutionary devices of the late 19th century.  The earliest telephones, however, were extremely limited: they allowed for communication between two receivers, but only if they were directly connected by a single wire.  It…

January 17: Hartford Becomes America’s First Steam-Powered City

  On January 17, 1901, the city of Hartford took its first step into the steam-powered future with the delivery of a state-of-the-art steam turbine-powered generator.  The massive 90,000-pound machine arrived on a custom-designed railroad car following a long journey from the Westinghouse Machine Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where it was manufactured as a special…

January 10: Samuel Colt, Legendary Gun Manufacturer, Dies at 47

  Today in 1862, gunmaker Samuel Colt died in Hartford. Though he was only 47 years old, Colt died one of the richest men in the United States and left a legacy of manufacturing and innovation that changed the face of Hartford, Connecticut to the Western American frontier and beyond. Internationally recognized for his formative…