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…

November 2: The “Best Built Car in America” Hits the Road

  On this day in 1902, the Locomobile Company of America delivered its first four-cylinder, gasoline-powered car, designed by engineer and former racecar driver Andrew Riker, who personally drove the $4,000 car from Bridgeport, Connecticut to New York City to present it to its new owner. Since its founding in 1899, the Locomobile Company, whose…

November 1: The Wilbur Cross Parkway Opens

  Today in 1949, 10 long years after construction first began, the Wilbur Cross Parkway finally opened to the public following a formal ceremony at the brand-new West Rock Tunnel adjacent to the New Haven-Woodbridge town line. There, after a motorcade procession through the 1200-foot-long tunnel,  Lieutenant Governor William T. Carroll proclaimed the newest stretch…

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 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…