history

The Comstock Bridge Gets a Bad Facelift

This summer I spent some time down at Salmon River. I noticed that a bunch of work was being done where the Comstock Bridge would normally be, but that didn’t strike me as strange. I mean, it’s old…it needs help sometimes. But then the other day, Dr. Gold sent me a text asking me to do a story about the rebuilding of the bridge. Apparently last winter’s ridiculous amount of snow did a number on the bridge. Thought to be one of two original covered bridges in the State, it’s kind of a big deal when it gets an overhaul. The incarnation we’re all familiar with is thought to date back to 1893 and the good Doctor is all riled up about the makeover.

According to an article on EastHaddamToday.com¬†the goal was to reuse as much of the old materials as possible. According to Dr. Gold, that didn’t amount to enough. The easiest place to see the difference is in the color of the bridge.

Before: See all that lovely gray wood?

After: No more patina ūüė¶

According to Dr. Gold, “I think the worst part of the restoration is that the old beams in the inside are gone. They said in that article that they are trying to use the original materials, but when I walked through, they haven’t used much of the old wood at all. It looks pretty brand spanking new. They are not completely done, but I’m not holding out much hope for it being anywhere as nice as it used to be. The only thing that it looks like they saved is the criss cross doors.”

We're willing to go out on a limb and call these the most photographed doors in Connecticut.

Since the doors are easily the most photographed doors in the state of Connecticut, we’re glad to see they made it through the rebuilding process. But the decades of graffitti, and initials carved into the beautiful old wood will be sorely missed. And we can’t wait until all that new wood gets grizzled and gray, like the rapidly aging CuTters.

But as we sit here and ponder this latest facelift, grumbling about the new wood, we’re trying to imagine what people were saying back in 1893 when the 1791-version got rebuilt. We like to think there was a tiny little head-shrinker wandering around with one of those giant cameras with the flap over the back, cursing the day the state got its hands on the bridge. But with over 100 years between rebuilds, we’re hoping Dr. Gold will live to see the weathered, craggy old wood return.

 

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All About: New Haven

Population: 128,779

County: new HavenCounty

Size: 20.31 square miles

History:¬†Ahhhh New Haven… the only Connecticut city that isn’t constantly being made fun of… This particular piece of land was taken from the Quinnipiac tribe. The history of New Haven is far too long-winded for me to recite here so here are some highlights.

  • In 1661, the judges who had signed the death warrant of¬†Charles I of England¬†were pursued by¬†Charles II. Two judges, Colonel¬†Edward Whalley¬†and Colonel¬†William Goffe, fled to New Haven to seek refuge from the king’s forces. John Davenport arranged for these “Regicides” to hide in the¬†West Rock¬†hills northwest of the town. A third judge,¬†John Dixwell, joined the other regicides at a later time.
  • It was made co-capital¬†of Connecticut in 1701, a status it retained until 1873. In 1716, the Collegiate School relocated from¬†Old Saybrook¬†to New Haven and established New Haven as a center of learning. In 1718, the name of the Collegiate School was changed to¬†Yale College¬†in response to a large donation from British East India Company merchant¬†Elihu Yale, former Governor of¬†Madras.
  • In 1970, a¬†series of criminal prosecutions¬†against various members of the¬†Black Panther Party¬†took place in New Haven, inciting mass protests on the New Haven Green involving twelve thousand demonstrators and many well-known¬†New Left¬†political activists.

Something Weird: 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLKOh-3trC0

All About: Greenwich

Population: 61,101+

County: Fairfield County

Size: 67.2 square miles

History: You can thank Elizabeht Fones Winthrop for Greenwich. Back in 1640 she showed up and bought what is now known as Greenwich Point, but was then known as “Elizabeth’s Neck.” Some dude named Israel escaped from the Brits in Greenwich and even though the village was “pillaged” he was able to warn Stamford… We think the “City that Works” owes the “City of Old Money” a big “Thank You!”

It also gets named “Best Place to Live” and whatnot quite often.

Something Weird: As we all learned earlier this summer, Greenwich is overrun with mountain lions. People can barely step outside without getting mauled or finding themselves knee-deep in some confirmed cougar scat.

All About: Goshen

Population: 2,697 (which is about 2,500 more than we would have guessed)

County: Litchfield County

Size: 45.2 square miles

History: Goshen’s history is pretty humdrum. There were farmers, then there was a church, then a while later there were schools (including a fancy prep school), and then some musket manufacturing. It is also home to something known as the pineapple cheese factory, which sounds disgusting.

Something Weird: Poor Goshen. It used to be home to part of the Appalachian Trail, but the trail was re-routed west of the Housatonic River. That seems kind of messed up.

 

All About: Newtown

Population: About 25,000 

County: Fairfield

Size: 60.38 square miles

History: Formerly Quanneapague, the land that makes up Newtown was purchased from the Pohtatuck¬†Indians in 1705 and incorporated in 1711. Sure, early in the American Revolutionary War some French troops camped out in present day Newtown, on their way to Yorkstown, VA where the revolutionary war ended… but the real exciting history of Newtown is the fact that it‚Äôs the birthplace of a little game we like to call Scrabble. The first versions of the board game were manufactured in a converted schoolhouse in the Dodgingtown section of Newtown.

Something Weird: The Edmond Town Hall houses some of Newtown’s town offices, which is weird because one would think it would be named the Newtown Town Hall.  The building, constructed in the 1930’s, has a few other tricks up it’s sleeve. In addition to town offices, the building includes a banquet space available for event rentals as well as a movie theater which runs second run films which are no longer in theaters but not yet available on DVD.

 

All About: Bethany

Population: 5,040

County: New Haven

Size: 21.6 square miles

History: Bethany is weird in that its website doesn’t seem to care much about its history, and in Connecticut…that’s not normal. Most towns can’t help but ramble on endlessly about the natives that used to call their land home and about all the stuffy old white guys who started churches. Bethany separated from Woodbridge in May of 1832. Thank goodness for Wikipedia which tells us a little bit more about the people that used to live there, like the Naugatucks, Paugussett, Mattabessets, and Wangunck. There was a whole weird thing where the ¬†town’s population started to decline for a while until the 1940s. But then Bethany got one of the first airports in all of New England…which seems like an odd choice.

Something Weird: Bethany was home to the Boy Scouts first troop and was voted the best small town in CT back in 2007.

All About: East Hartford

Population: 49,575

County: Hartford

Size: 18.8 square miles

History: The Podunk Indians have once again come up in the history of a CT town. Settled by whities around 1640 and was originally part of (surprise! surprise!) Hartford. Dudes named Goodwin, Pitkin, and Burnham were among the first brave souls to call the East Beat home — and now they have streets and schools named after them (well…I’m just guessing Burnside and Burnham are related). In 1726 a petition was filed to make EH its own town. It was turned down. It wasn’t until 1783 that the town finally got approved. Somewhere in the 20th Century, Pratt & Whitney was built and became the town’s major employer and housing for returning soldiers and PW employees sprung up all over the place. Then that went down the shitter and now East Hartford spends most of its time trying to keep strip clubs from opening up all over town.

Something Weird: Most of my weird East Hartford stories come from this guy who also insisted we hurry up and do “All About: East Hartford”:

East Hartford native, and former baseball legend, cooks corn using weird gloves and open flames.

He claims that when he was a kid riding his bike near his grandmother’s house on Naubuc Avenue he saw a man carry a body rolled up in a carpet into the woods and then toss it into a river. As far as we can tell there was never a body found in a carpet or otherwise, but he swears it happened. I think he just witnessed a really heinous act of littering.

Also, I once heard that East Beat’s Hockanum River (why do so many things in East Hartford have such harsh sounding names?) was so polluted that Cellu Tissue had to stop dumping into it — not just to clean it up, but because it was actually too polluted to keep polluting. My dog used to escape the yard and go swimming in it once in awhile. The animal control officer was so grossed out by the smell that he would just bring the dog back to the house and drop him off.

Oh and… the 1996 East Hartford High School baseball team was crowned the State Champs after a 23-0 season.

All About: Simsbury

Population: 23,656

County: Hartford

Size: 34.3 sq mi

History: Simsbury was named and recognized officially in 1670 so it’s a mere toddler compared to Windsor or Wethersfield. Originally the area was inhabited by an Indian tribe called the Wappingers and I think we can all guess how that eventually turned out.

Something Weird: Simsbury is home to the largest tree in Connecticut called the Pinchot Sycamore. That sucker is 26 feet around. One might think it’s on steroids, it’s that huge. Also, Simsbury is home to the International Skating Center of Connecticut where a bunch of famous figure skaters have trained. Hopefully they’ve been to Little City Pizza, because that place has amazing pies.