This route, the Middle Road of Colonial times, traverses the eastern Connecticut highland through the industrial districts of Manchester, the home of Cheney Silks, and Willimantic, the thread city. Thence it passes through the northwestern part of Connecticut, hilly land sparsely settled. From the north-western portion of Rhode Island with its mill centers we may turn east to Providence (85.o), or continue over an interesting route through southern Massachusetts direct to Boston.
The route leaves Hartford (R. 1) by the magnificent new stone bridge over the Connecticut and passes through East Hartford. From East Hartford turn right from the route to Springfield with branch trolley, following the Connecticut Trunk Line State Road, marked with red bands on poles and posts, eastward along Burnside Ave. through Burnside (4.0). This little manufacturing hamlet lies just to the south of the State Road on the Hockanum river, which furnishes waterpower for the paper industry that has here flourished since Revolutionary times.
Note. The State Road branching off to the left (6.5) leads north through Tolland and Stafford Springs (R. 11) to Worcester.
Halfway between Hartford and Manchester we pass Laurel Park, the prettiest spot in the Hockanum valley. This is a region of natural picturesqueness, with ravines and cliffs. In this region, near Manchester, was found in 1884 a considerable part of the skeleton of a dinosaur, and a few years later, in the same locality, a complete skeleton of another species, so perfect as to afford the Yale paleontologist, Professor Marsh, satisfactory data for a complete restoration of the animal. The remains of still a third species of dinosaur have been found in this vicinity.
8.8 MANCHESTER CENTER. Alt 170 ft. Pop (twp) 13,641. Hartford Co. Settled 1672. Mfg. silk, woolens, paper, soap, and needles.
A mile to the north is the village of Manchester. The township has four centers of population, the largest community in the State operating under a town government, but its charter gives it most of the powers exercised by cities.
SOUTH MANCHESTER lies a mile and a half to the south of Manchester Center and the State Road. Here are located the great silk mills of the firm of Cheney Brothers, which employ 4500 people.
The first settlement was made in 1672 near Hop Brook, as a part of Hartford. The settlement at the Green was first called Five Miles, and later, Orford Parish. The exclusive privilege of making glass in the Connecticut colony was granted to the Pitkins here. The picturesque ruins of their glassworks may still be seen.
Timothy Cheney, one of the first of the family, was a maker of wooden clocks, to whom John Fitch (p 119) was apprenticed to learn the clock-making trade. Though Cheney made reliable clocks Fitch thought he treated him unfairly.
Mulberry trees were first planted and silkworm culture instituted in Connecticut in 1732, both at Mansfield and at Cheshire. President Stiles of Yale was much interested in silk culture, and his Commencement gown in 1789 was Connecticut grown and manufactured. The Legislature encouraged silk production by offering a bounty on the raising of mulberry trees and raw silk. Half an ounce of mulberry seed was distributed to each parish. In 1785 the Connecticut Silk Society was incorporated in New Haven to encourage silk culture and manufacture. Mansfield, to the north of Willimantic, became the center of the industry, and in 1793 her inhabitants received a bounty on 265 pounds of raw silk. In 1829 a silk company built a factory at Mansfield to produce sewing silk. In 1836 Prank and Ralph Cheney, descendants of Timothy Cheney, laid the foundation of the largest silk industry in the State at South Manchester, beginning to manufacture silk thread from imported raw material. There are forty-seven silk manufactories in the State, with a total production of $21,000,000 in 1909.
The Bon Ami Company, manufacturers of the soap which, like a newly hatched chick, “hasnet scratched yet,” have their factory here. There are also paper mills, woolen mills, a needle factory, and a knitting factory. The Alcott grass garden, in which individual grasses from all parts of the world are grown, was the property of Frederick W. Taylor, of scientific management fame.
The State Road continues straight through Manchester Green (10.o). Highland Park, two miles east of Manchester, is a beautiful bit of country. The Bolton Hills (590 ft) about here make this one of the most charming regions of New England.
Note. The left fork, with red markers, is an alternate route via Coventry to Willimantic; it is of about equal length but less attractive.
The main route forks right, and is marked with red bands, through the romantic Bolton Notch (13.o), descending a steep grade. The town of Bolton lies a mile or so south.
18.5 ANDOVER. Alt 320 ft. Pop (twp) 371 (1910). Tolland Co. Inc. 1848.
The Town Hall is on the right. The fine new State High-way of macadam pavement continues through a sparsely settled region eastward to
29.0 WILLIMANTIC. Alt 247 ft. Pop 12,206 (1910); one fourth foreign-born. Windham Co. Settled 1822. Indian name, “good lookout,” or “good cedar swamp.” Mfg. spool cotton, silk twist, silk and cotton fabrics, velvet, and silk machinery.
Willimantic is a thriving manufacturing town at the head-waters of the Shetucket river, formed here by the joining of the Willimantic and the Natchaug. It is one of the chief thread-making centers of the country. Willimantic is the geographic center of eastern Connecticut and the distributing center for the farming region which surrounds it. Manufacturing is carried on in the outlying villages, South Coventry, Chaffeeville, North Windham, etc. The annual factory product is valued at over $5,000,000. There are extensive granite quarries in the vicinity, and most of the large mills are built of this local material.
The Willimantic river falls a hundred feet in a mile, forming one of the most valuable waterpowers in eastern Connecticut.
Here is the principal plant of the American Thread Company, which employs 2500 persons. Here also are the large plants of the Quidnick-Windham Manufacturing Company, makers of prints and twills. The silk industry is important, including the Holland Mills (silk thread), the Windham Silk Company (dress goods), the Chaffee Company, and the A. G. Turner Silk-Throwing Mill. The Vanderman Foundries and the Willimantic Machine Company build silk machinery.
Windham Center, three miles east, was an important and prosperous town during the Colonial period and still has some fine old houses. The legend of the Frogs of Windham has been related by a local poet in a batrachian epic of thirty stanzas, telling of a battle between hordes of migrating frogs.
The hill country of northeastern Connecticut and adjacent Rhode Island presents points of sociological interest. A prosperous region in Colonial days, it has gone backward and the inhabitants have retrograded rather than advanced. This has remained a sort of `backwater’ of New England civilization, where the standards of living have been very low. It is averred that in some neighborhoods food for the entire week is cooked at one time and eaten thereafter as appetite inclines. Recent improvements in education, agriculture, better roads, etc., have done much to change these conditions.
Route 11, from Norwich to Stafford Springs and Worcester, crosses the route here.
Leaving Willimantic we cross the Natchaug river by an iron bridge. The State Highway traverses a sparsely inhabited region to North Windham (34.0), a mere hamlet, and follows the valley of the Natchaug, crossing the river before entering the village of Chaplin (37.o). The route continues to Phoenixville (43.o), where it leaves the Natchaug valley and turns east through Abington (48.0) to
51.0 POMFRET. Alt 389 ft. Pop (twp) 1857 (1910). Windham Co. Settled 1687.
Pomfret is a pleasant old country town with fine old houses and churches surrounded by rolling hills, famous for its memories of Israel Putnam. The Ben Grosvenor Inn (1765) faces the Green. Opposite is the Pomfret School, for boys, founded in 1894. Pomfret has become increasingly popular as a summer resort on account of its fine situation. There are some attractive country places in the vicinity. Rathlin, the extensive estate of George Lothrop Bradley of Washington, D.C., overlooks the Brooklyn and Abington valleys. Courtlands, the home of Mrs. Courtland Hoppin, and Elsinore, that of Mrs. Randolph M. Clark, can be seen across the picturesque Paradise valley; while Marcus M. Kimball of Boston and the Perkins brothers of New York have attractive places further to the east. The Thomas S. Harrison place on the main street is one of the original homesteads modernized.
The early settlers came from Roxbury, and the place attained considerable importance in Colonial times. It was an important stopping place on the Middle Road. One of the old inns is still standing with very little change, and is now the home of Dr. S. B. Overlock, at the four corners. After the Revolution the town sank into quiet and -partial obscurity. About 1875 the sleepy little village was brought into notice by some Providence people, and through the efforts of Dr. Alexander H. Vinton and the Hoppin family it has been transformed into a wide-awake residential resort. The countless ridges and hills overlooking the pleasant valley of the winding Quinebaug afford ideal sites for estates.
General Israel Putnam lived and was buried at Brooklyn, some miles to the south. On the failing of his finances, his former residence was turned into an inn in 1767. At the side of the house today is a great bronze equestrian statue of the General.
On the road between Brooklyn and Pomfret, on a craggy, precipitous hill with a tangled forest, is the historic Wolfes Den.
One morning seventy sheep and goats were reported killed. Putnam had a bloodhound of great strength, and with five neighbors he agreed to watch until the wolf was. killed. It was in the winter of 1742-43, when a light snowfall enabled them to track the wolf to his den, that his famous exploit occurred. A day was spent in fruitless endeavor to persuade the beast to come out, but finally Putnam threw off his coat and waistcoat, and with a rope around his body and a gun in his hand he was lowered into the cave until he saw the glaring eyeballs. He shot the wolf and was pulled out with it.
The road from Pomfret north to Woodstock, a beautifully situated village in a mountainous country, is a fine New England elm-shaded street preserving the Colonial flavor.
56.5 PUTNAM. Pop 6637 (1910); one third foreign-born. Wind-ham Co. Inc. 1855. Mfg. cotton and woolen goods, steam heaters, and castings.
This is a manufacturing village, utilizing the fine water-power of the Quinebaug and Mill rivers, and named for General Putnam. Route 12, from New London to Worcester, passes through the city.
From Putnam the route follows gravel and macadam roads, with red markers, through a sparsely inhabited country. About three miles from Putnam we cross the State line into Rhode Island, where the color markers cease, and pass through the hamlet of West Gloucester, skirting Bowdish Reservoir, to
70.0 CHEPACHET. Alt 395 ft. Pop (Gloucester twp) 1491 (1915). Providence Co. Inc. 1731
From here the straight road continues to Providence (85.0).
The road to Woonsocket turns to the left, following a good State Road. At Mapleville (71.5), bear left, and at fork, right, crossing R.R., through the hamlet of Oakland. South of the village of Glendale, which we avoid, we cross a wood bridge to Nasonville (74.3). The route now follows the trolley, skirting a series of lakes through Slatersville (76.8), entering, via Main St., the city of
81.5 WOONSOCKET. Alt 162 ft. Pop 38,350 (1910), 40,075 (1915); three fifths foreign extraction. Providence Co. Settled 1666. Mfg. cotton, woolens, yarn, rubber shoes, and machinery. Value of Product, $28,218,000; Payroll, $5,675,000.
Woonsocket, situated at the most valuable waterpower on the Blackstone river, is a thriving industrial center which has long been famed for the manufacture of worsteds, rubber goods, etc. The Woonsocket of the present day is, however, a French city. Over 60 per cent of the population is French Canadian, employed in the numerous mills. They almost control the politics, and one of Woonsocket’s French citizens has been Governor of the State.
The industrial development has been largely modern, al-though mills existed from early times at the falls of the Black-stone. There are over thirty-five large manufacturing plants here besides many smaller concerns. The cotton and woolen mills have a wide reputation, and it is one of the largest centers for the manufacture of woolen and worsted yarns by the French, Belgian, and Bradford processes. It is the home of American Harris tweeds. The rubber mills and wringer works are among the largest in the country. Additional water-power is obtained from the tributaries of the Blackstone, the Mill and Peters rivers.
Probably the most striking buildings of Woonsocket are the Catholic Churches. The Harris Institute was given to the city by the wellknown manufacturer of the worsteds which bear his name. It contains a large hall and a library. Woonsocket Hill (588 ft) is one of the highest in the State and commands a fine view of the busy valley.
The Blackstone river is the best developed waterpower in the country. It is named for William Blackstone, the first settler on the site of Boston, who retired to this part of Rhode Island in 1634 (see Lonsdale, R. 19).
Two miles northwest of Woonsocket is the busy little town of Blackstone (settled 1700) with important cotton, woolen, and rubber mills. Further up the river are Millville, part of the town of Blackstone, with its rubber boot plant; the textile village of Uxbridge; Whitinsville with its famous cotton machinery plant established by the Whitin family; Northbridge, Millbury, and other manufacturing centers. In the days be-fore the railroads the Blackstone Canal furnished transportation through this valley, connecting Worcester and Providence.
The Indians applied the name ` Woonsockete to the hill and the falls here. The first white settler was Richard Arnold of Providence, who arrived in 1666 and built a saw mill on the bank of the Blackstone. It became largely a settlement of Quakers, who dwelt to the south and west of the present city, and some of the old meeting houses remain today. South of the city is a large quartz hill which contains iron of the purest type, but the extreme hardness of the deposit has prevented its usefulness on account of the absence of a satisfactory flux in this part 0f the world.
From Monument Square, Route 19 leads to Worcester via Blackstone St., to the left.
The Boston route follows Social St., in two miles crossing the State Line into Massachusetts, leading by a recently constructed State Highway to
88.0 BELLINGHAM. Alt 240 ft. Pop (twp) 1696 (1910), 1953 (1915). Norfolk Co. Inc. 1719. Mfg. woolens.
Bellingham lies on the height of land from which the waters turn northward into the Charles river and southward into the Blackstone. The town derives its name from the Earl of Bellingham, to whom the land was granted when governor of the colony by Charles II. He gave his own name to the town, and that of his benefactor to the river flowing northward.
Note. From the Bellingham Town Hall a State Road leads to the, right through Franklin to Wrentham (9.o), where it joins Route 2, from Providence to Boston. The distance to Boston by this route is 35.0 M. from Bellingham.
4.8 FRANKLIN. Alt 301 ft. Pop (twp) 5641 (1910), 6440 (1915). Norfolk Co. Inc. 1778. Mfg. shoddy, woolens, felt, pianos, and straw hats.
Franklin is a busy town of diversified manufactures in the midst of a farming country. The manufacture of straw hats was long the most characteristic industry of the place, as both Franklin and Wrentham were early centers in this line.
On the left toward the Common is the Ray Memorial Library, given to the town by the daughters of Joseph Gordon Ray as a memorial to their father. Architecturally this is one of the most significant library buildings in New England on account of the consistency with which the Greek ideal has been carried out. It was designed by H. H. Gallison of Boston. The fine frescoes of the interior, representing Greek scenes, are by Tommaso Juglaris, an Italian. The books presented to the town by Franklin are now preserved here. Opposite are the buildings of Dean Academy, a coeducational school founded and endowed in 1865 by Dr. Oliver Dean, a citizen of the town who made a fortune in the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company at Manchester, N.H.
The town was originally a part of Wrentham, and its early history is connected with that place. A battle with the Indians took place here in 1676. In 1778 the town was separated from Wrentham and named in honor of Benjamin Pranklin. A hint was conveyed to Pranklin, at that time in Paris, that the gift of a church bell would be very acceptable. Pranklin sent a gift of 125 books, observing that the people were probably “more fond of sense than sound.”
Between Franklin and Wrentham lies a rolling farming country. The old Colonial homestead in Mann’s Plain where Horace Mann was born in 1796 ‘is still standing, but it is largely spoiled by the `renovations’ of a quarter of a century ago.
Passing along the shores of Wollomonapoag and King Philip’s Ponds, now cheapened by the names of Lake Pearl and Lake Archer, the route enters Wrentham (9.o), joining Route 2 (p 196), to Boston, 35.o M.
From the Bellingham Town Hall, turning left with the trolley on macadam road, the route leads to South Milford (90.3). At the four corners continue straight through, and half a mile beyond bear right with trolley to
93.0 MILFORD. Alt 266 ft. Pop (twp) 13,055 (1910), 13,642 (1915). Worcester Co. Settled 1667. Indian name Quinshipaug. Mfg. shoes, straw and rubber goods, machinery; granite.
Milford, the first of the `shoe towns’ of Massachusetts to be reached in coming from the south, is a thriving community with several important industries. The shoe industry was begun here in 1795 by arial Bragg.
Milford pink granite is a fine-grained granite, beautiful in color and texture, for building purposes. It has been quarried here for nearly a century. Two firms are chiefly engaged in the work, Norcross Bros. and the Massachusetts Pink Granite Company. Many buildings in the town are constructed of it, including Memorial Hall, St. Mary’s Church, the High School, the Universalist Church, and the new Post Office, a federal building erected in 1913-14. A conspicuous shaft erected in St. Mary’s Cemetery by Father Cuddihy as a replica of a famous Irish round tower, is constructed of Milford granite, as is also the Perry Memorial recently erected at Put-in-Bay, Lake Erie. The quarries and mills have brought to Milford a large foreign population, mainly Italian, but including many other nationalities.
Note. Route 24, following East Main St. through Medway and Dover, leads to Boston (125.5). Westward it leads to Hopedale and Grafton.
From Main and Exchange Sts., Milford, the route keeps to the right with the trolley. A mile from the town, where the trolleys fork, bear to the left, following macadam State High-way into Washington St., which passes through the village of Metcalf, the home of Kate Sanborn, the writer and lecturer.
Half a mile beyond, from Phipps Hill, we see to the right Lake Wennakeening, “a pleasant smile.” To the left of the road is the great Pittsfield Poultry Company’s plant. Further on, on the right on Highland St., are the Winthrop Nurseries, maintained by Miss Mary E. Cutler, a lecturer and authority on farming. Adjoining is the Wennakeening Farm, which has been in the Cutler family since the early settlement. On the left of Washington St. is the Linda Vista farm, the magnificent estate of L. E. P. Smith, New England manager of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.
99.5 HOLLISTON. Alt 200 ft. Pop (twp) 2711 (1910), 2788 (1915). Middlesex Co. Inc. 1724. Mfg. woolen goods, copper pumps, shoes, army blankets, and wax paper; dairy products, nursery stock.
Holliston is a prosperous residential country town with some diversity of manufacturing interests, mostly on a small scale. Originally part of Sherborn, it was incorporated in 1724 and named after Thomas Hollis, the donor of Hollis Hall, Harvard College.
Washington Street is the main thoroughfare, with rows of especially fine trees and a number of handsome residences. There are several good examples of those classic porticoes so much in favor at the beginning of the last century.
At East Holliston the road leaves Washington St. and follows Concord St. with the trolley past the Travis Farm, the ancient house of which was the scene of the first town meeting in 1724. Along the road many of the eighteenth century farmhouses, white with green blinds, have the dates of erections above their doorways. Concord Street passes the extensive plant of the Boston Ice Company, coming into Irving Square, joining Route 24, which leads to Boston (125.5).