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 today in 1770. Ebenezer’s accumulated debts had forced young Benjamin to forego most of his formal schooling to take up odd…

October 9: The Hindenburg Flies Over Connecticut

  Today, the name “Hindenburg” is most closely associated with the fiery, disastrous crash that destroyed the famous dirigible in 1937. Before its demise, however, the massive, 800-foot-long German airship was considered the pinnacle of modern aerospace engineering and luxury travel, and often attracted crowds of awe-struck spectators wherever it went. Built over a period…

October 8: Completing the World’s Largest Stone Arch Bridge

  For most of the 19th century, travelers passing between Hartford and East Hartford crossed the Connecticut River over a wooden covered bridge, constructed in 1818 and expanded several times to include additional lanes and, eventually, room for trolleys. In 1895, the entire structure burned down in a spectacular fire that, according to newspapers, some…

July 31: All Aboard The Branford Trolley Line!

  Today in Connecticut history, one of the first electrically-powered trolley lines in the United States began service between Branford and East Haven, Connecticut. July 31, 1900 marked the inaugural run of the Branford Electric Railway, which was hailed as a more efficient and sanitary way to transport people along the Connecticut shoreline than the…

July 12: Buckminster Fuller’s Car of the Future

  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: 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 28: Corruption Along Connecticut’s Historic 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 United States, its novel use of entrance and exit ramps preceded the Eisenhower interstate system by decades.  Lined with trees, carefully maintained green spaces, and passing underneath dozens of uniquely decorated stone…

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…

January 2: 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 Maritime History 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 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…