July 31: A New Era in Urban Transportation Begins Reshaping City Life

  Today in 1900, one of the first electrically powered trolley lines in the United States began service on the three-mile run between Branford and East Haven. It was a relatively short trip that launched major and permanent changes in Connecticut’s urban settlement patterns and lifestyles. The inaugural run of the Branford Electric Railway was…

July 12: The Car of the Future — in 1933

  R. Buckminster Fuller, the inventor, architect, author, and futurist best known for his popularization of the geodesic dome, was one of the most prolific public intellectuals of the early 20th century. In the early 1930s, Fuller coined the word “Dymaxion” — a portmanteau of the words “dynamic,” “maximum,” and “tension” — and applied it…

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…

April 28: Corruption Paves the Way for the the Merritt Parkway

  Connecticut’s historic Merritt Parkway is the oldest scenic parkway in the United States. One of the first limited-access, divided-lane highways in the country, its novel use of entrance and exit ramps preceded the Eisenhower interstate system by decades. Lined with trees, carefully maintained green spaces, and with dozens of uniquely designed stone overpasses, the…

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 2: Interstate 95 – The Connecticut Turnpike – Opens

  January 2nd remains a date in Connecticut history that is bound to provoke strong feelings among the state’s road warriors: On this day in 1958, the Connecticut Turnpike — better known today as Interstate 95 — first opened to the public. The course of the well-traveled highway largely paralleled the path of U.S. Route…

December 29: Preserving America’s Golden Age of Sail in Mystic

  The village of Mystic, Connecticut — which is actually not its own town, but a borough straddling the two towns of Groton and Stonington — has been associated with sailing, fishing, and shipbuilding for hundreds of years. The village’s earliest shipbuilding enterprises date to the late 17th century, when English settlers set up shop…

December 16: First Connecticut Stretch of Interstate 84 Opens

  By the 1950s, overcrowded highways became an increasingly familiar annoyance to Connecticut commuters as the state basked in post-WWII economic prosperity and the increase in population — and automobile traffic — that came with it. At the time, most of Connecticut’s inland east-west travel utilized U.S. Route 6, an old and overburdened road that…

December 11: The World’s First Jet-Powered Helicopter

  Today in 1951, aerospace engineer Charles H. Kaman’s modified K-225 helicopter took its first test flight in Bloomfield, Connecticut, changing the future of helicopter aviation forever. As the first helicopter to use a jet engine to power its drive shaft, the K-225 demonstrated a way to make helicopters  fly faster and higher, with less…

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…

December 3: The Barkhamsted “Lighthouse”

  The Connecticut shoreline is home to many beautiful, historic lighthouses that have steered ships in Long Island Sound to safety for hundreds of years. One of the state’s most historically significant “lighthouses,” however, is located over 60 miles inland — and refers not to a navigational structure, but to a unique settlement established on…

November 7: Washington Slept Here — But Wasn’t Happy About It

  Throughout the eastern United States, claims that “George Washington slept here” at some local home or landmark are so exceedingly plentiful — and frequently fabricated to boost business — that the term has become something of a cliché. Connecticut, however, can point to many locations where George Washington did pass by or spend the…