Like many European settlements in New England, Middletown fueled its expansion by building sawmills and grist mills along its best streams. Yet by 1800, Middletown was becoming a magnet for early industry. In addition to its hilly interior with ample water-power, it boasted a burgeoning population and a deep-water harbor for trade. Only a handful of cities enjoyed such a combination. Flowing out of Middletown — along with its exhausted water — were textiles, firearms, tools, locks, marine hardware, rubber goods, brakes, and more. During the era of water power, the Coginchaug River and Sumner-Pameacha stream systems each hosted more than a dozen industrial dams.
This economic past is visible in the neighborhood of every old mill, and some of these dams remain in place today. Yet the industries have left, and newer roadways run high above the industrial ravines. Join us to explore the significance of these streams and the industries that relied upon them.
For more information about the program or the Jonah Center, contact John Hall at 860-398-3771 or visit www.thejonahcenter.org .