The Lower Housatonic Valley From Derby To Canaan

The Housatonic valley through this portion of its course has worn a deep trough in the hard crystalline rocks. It is what the geologists call a “deeply trenched” valley, which has been worn to a depth of approximately 500 feet below the surrounding flat-topped hills. The floor of the valley offers a level and natural course for the trunk line highway projected.

At the junction of the Housatonic and the Naugatuck, in the last half century have developed a group of important manufacturing towns specializing in brass and hardware.

The road from Derby (p 280) follows the river on its north-eastern bank through a sparsely inhabited but scenically attractive region. On the opposite bank the road runs as far as Zoar Bridge, where it turns east through the wide .valley of Half Way River. At Bennetts Bridge (15.o) the Pomparaug river enters from the north and the Pootatuck from the south. These two valleys form a natural east and west high-way, and here Route 3 (p 208) and the Highland Division of the N. Y., N. H. & H. R.R. cross the Housatonic valley. The valley road continues to follow the river closely through a wild and little known country to STILL RIVER (31.0), a little hamlet. Here the Housatonic plunges over the Great Falls and whirls its turbulent course through a deep rock gorge.

34.0 NEW MILFORD (R. 6,p 276).

The valley soils about here are favorable to the growth of tobacco, and New Milford is a considerable tobacco market. The valley here is broad and fertile. To the west, Rocky River runs north for some miles parallel with the Housatonic, but in the opposite direction, joining the Housatonic at BOARDMAN BRIDGE (36.o), where lime-burning has become in the last decade a flourishing industry. To the west is the long jagged ridge of Candlewood Mountain. The Housatonic valley from New Milford to Kent is at its loveliest. The road between here and Gaylordsville was the route for the transport of arms and munitions in the Revolution.

GAYLORDSVWLLE (40.5) is a quiet little hamlet in the midst of broad tobacco fields. The original Gaylord homestead, now the home of Jeanette Gaylord, still stands on the left.

The first William Gaylord, or Gaillard (the family originally came from Normandy), was an emigrant on the “Mary and John,” and settling first in Dorchester, migrated to Windsor in the Connecticut valley. Ensign William Gaylord was granted 1000 acres in this vicinity. In the early deeds the Housatonic was always called “The Great River,” the name Houssatunnick first appearing in a deed by William Sherman, father of Roger Sherman, to William Gaylord in 1744. When he settled here he found the old Schaghticoke chieftain, Siacus, living in a hut further up the river at what is now called Gaylords Bridge. The Schaghticokes had long cultivated apples all through this region.

From Gaylordsville a good road to the west leads to Webotuck, N.Y., and South Dover on Route 5 (p 240). Two miles beyond, the Webotuck river enters from the west. On Scatacook Mountain (1500 ft) there were until recently, and may be still, a few Indians who lived in huts. They were the remnants of the once populous village here which during the Revolution provided ro0 warriors to fight the British. A half-breed is president of a rattlesnake club, whose spring hunt draws participants from neighboring cities to share the sport and also the dinner afterward, at which the only accepted snake-bite cure is plentifully provided. Here the Housatonic river is at its nearest point to the New York boundary, less than a mile. Within the past few years there has been a large hydro-electric development in this region. The diversion canals, conduits, and power houses are conspicuous features in this portion of the valley.

47.0 KENT. Alt 395 ft. Pop 1122. Litchfield Co. Inc. 1739.

Kent is a quiet old town. In the vicinity is the Kent School, for boys, maintained by the Order of the Holy Cross.

The valley from Kent northward becomes narrow and wilder, the river more turbulent. Good roads on either side of this river make accessible this picturesque valley. Not far above the town the ruins of a blast furnace are seen, used for more than a century in the days when pig iron was a leading local product (p 242). The waterpower is owned by the Stanley Rule and Level Company.

The route passes the hamlet of Cornwall Bridge (52.0). Four miles to the eastward, near the only first-growth pine in New England south of New Hampshire, is the beautiful oldtime village of Cornwall Plains. Here is the Rumsey School, for young boys. In 1808 a Sandwich Islander founded a mission for the Indians and a few of his own race, which he maintained here until his death in 1818.

56.0 WEST CORNWALL. Alt 550 ft. Pop (twp) 1016. Inc. 1740.

Four and a half miles on the right rises Barrack Mountain. Opposite, to the west where the valley of Salmon Creek enters, is the village of Lime Rock. Here limestone is quarried and the iron ore from Salisbury is smelted, especially by the firm of Barnum & Richardson Company, furnishing an iron of superior quality, the demand for which exceeds the supply.

At Falls Village (62.5) a hydro-electric plant with a high dam has marred the grandeur of the 130-foot falls.