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Exploration and Discovery

Senator Hiram Bingham of Connecticut

From the State Historian: Discovering the Explorer Hiram Bingham III

Of all the Connecticans who have left their mark in distant places, perhaps none made a more lasting—or more controversial—impression than this explorer.


Illustration of the Connecticut Charter boundary, 1662

From the State Historian: The Map That Wasn’t a Map

The Charter of 1662 described Connecticut boundaries that extended all the way to the the Pacific Ocean!


Waste Not, Want Not: The Colonial Era Midden

From tools, dishes, and clothing to muskrat bones, household trash from 1700s reveals how Yankees of the era lived.


Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer

Nathaniel Palmer discovers Antarctica – Today in History: November 18

On November 18, 1820, Nathaniel Brown Palmer of Stonington, Connecticut, discovered the mainland of Antarctica, one of the seven continents.


Postcard of Dinosaur State Park, ca. 1960s

Discovered Dinosaur Tracks Re-Route Highway and Lead to State Park

Some 200 million years ago, carnivorous dinosaurs roamed Rocky Hill leaving the three-toed tracks that would become our state fossil.


Putting History on the Map

While maps serve a utilitarian function at the time of their production, they become snapshots in time of the memories of those who designed them.


Conjectures upon the Nature and Motion of Meteors by Thomas Clap

America’s First Planetarium – Who knew?

In 1744 Thomas Clap, Rector and Yale College president for 26 years (1740-1766), constructed the first orrery, or planetarium, in the American colonies.


Map of The Part of Pennsylvania that Lies Between the Forks of the Susquehannah, Divided Into Townships

The Susquehanna Settlers

July 25, 2022 • Exploration and Discovery

In 1753, Connecticut settlers formed the Susquehanna Company for the purposes of developing the Wyoming Valley in northeastern Pennsylvania.


Map of changing Connecticut's boundary lines

Surveying Connecticut’s Borders

After some 350 years, the matter of where exactly some of the state’s boundaries lie continues to be debated.


Deep River, 1934 aerial survey

Road Signs of the Air

In the 1920s, most pilots navigated using road maps and by following highways, rivers, and other landmarks that they could see from the air.


Side profile of a white wood house

Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake Hallett Helps Found Greenwich

In the middle of the 17th century, Elizabeth Fones Winthrop Feake Hallett played an integral part in purchasing the land that became Greenwich, Connecticut.


Lantern Hill

Breaking the Myth of the Unmanaged Landscape

Evidence of early Native land use is etched into the landscape and preserved in oral tradition as well as the historical and archaeological records.


Asaph Hall, August 1899

Goshen’s Asaph Hall Becomes an Astronomical Success

Credited with discovering the moons orbiting the planet Mars, Asaph Hall became an international science celebrity in the 19th century.


New Netherlands and New England map

Reckoning with the Dutch: the Treaty of Hartford, 1650

Hartford place names, such as Dutch Point, Huyshope Avenue, and Adriaen’s Landing, are reminders of a time when Connecticut was part of New Netherlands.


Map of the Freedom Trail Sites

Site Lines: Connecticut’s Freedom Trail

Sites along the Connecticut Freedom Trail mark key events in the quest to achieve freedom and social equality for African Americans in the state.


Thomas Hooker: Connecticut’s Founding Father

A powerful and popular preacher, Thomas Hooker led a group of Puritans out of Massachusetts in 1636 to settle new lands that eventually became the city of Hartford.


Penguins, 1933-35, Antarctic

Sixty Degrees Below Zero: Connecticut Man Explores Antarctica

September 15, 2021 • Bolton, Exploration and Discovery, Science, Work

John Henry Von der Wall, a life-long resident of Bolton, took part in Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s famed expeditions to the South Polar regions.


Illustration of Lorenzo Carter's first cabin

Putting Cleveland on the Map: Lorenzo Carter on the Ohio Frontier

From Connecticut, Lorenzo Carter became the first permanent settler of the community that became Cleveland, Ohio.


Dinosaur Tracks

Dinosaur Tracks Found – Today in History: August 23

On August 23, 1966, hundreds of dinosaur tracks were uncovered in Rocky Hill by a bulldozer operator.


The Adventure of a Lifetime: John Ledyard and Captain Cook’s Last Voyage

July 23, 2021 • Exploration and Discovery

Published in Hartford in 1783, this book by a Groton-born traveler captured a young nation’s imagination with its tales of discovery.


Hooker and Company Journeying through the Wilderness from Plymouth to Hartford

Hooker’s Journey to Hartford

In early June 1636, Puritan religious leader Reverend Thomas Hooker left the Boston area with one hundred men, women, and children and set out for the Connecticut valley.


Timeline: Settlement of the Colony of Connecticut

A timeline displaying the major events leading to Connecticut statehood, including its settlement by the Dutch, the origins of Hartford, Wethersfield, and Windsor, the founding of the Connecticut, New Haven, and Saybrook colonies, and Connecticut’s acquisition of a formal charter from England.


Detail from A mapp of New England by John Seller

Lion Gardiner Helps to Fortify Early Old Saybrook

In 1635, the governor of the Saybrook colony hired engineer and soldier Lion Gardiner to build a critically needed fort for protection from both the Dutch colonists and local Native American tribes.


Hiram Bingham

Hiram Bingham III: Machu Picchu Explorer and Politician

Hiram Bingham III was a distinguished scholar and public servant attached to a line of the Bingham family that has lived in Salem, Connecticut, for generations.


Copy of Map of Windsor, shewing the parishes, the roads, and houses by Seth Pease

Seth Pease Surveys New Lands

This Suffield native’s work in “New Connecticut” and other Western territories reveals how the new nation took stock of its expanding borders.


Discovery of mastodon bones on the farm of Ms. Theodate Riddle

Mastodon Bones Unearthed – Today in History: August 13

On August 13, 1913, workmen unearthed the skeleton of a mastodon, in Farmington, while digging a trench on Alfred A. Pope’s farm and country estate, Hill-Stead.


Detail from A Map of the Connecticut Western Reserve, from actual Survey, surveyed by Seth Pease

New Connecticut on Lake Erie: Connecticut’s Western Reserve

If you drive through the area of Ohio still called the Western Reserve today, you will find towns named Norwich, Saybrook, New London, Litchfield, Mansfield, and Plymouth.


A plan of the first Society in Lebanon

Exploring Early Connecticut Mapmaking

Renderings of the terrain served a variety of purposes, from supporting colonists’ land claims as well as tribal counterclaims to settling religious disputes and even adorning the homes of the well-off.


Reverend John Davenport

Forgotten Founder: John Davenport of New Haven

John Davenport, the founder of New Haven, was a prominent Puritan leader during the early years of the New England colonies.


William C. Redfield

William Redfield Born – Today in History: March 26

On March 26, 1789, William C. Redfield, the noted American meteorologist, was born in Middletown.


HMS Resolution and Discovery in Tahiti

John Ledyard, Connecticut’s Most Famous Traveler

January 27, 2020 • Exploration and Discovery, Groton

This intrepid voyager, one of the most adventurous figures in Connecticut’s long history, would have made a great fictional character had he not been real.


New Haven Harbor, US Coast Survey, 1872

Three Young Engineers: Charting New Haven

When the United States Coast Survey set out to compile detailed charts of New Haven Harbor in the 1870s, they hired recent graduates of Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School as assistants.


Map of Connecticut showing the settlements in 1670

Connecticut’s Oldest English Settlement

The original Windsor settlement contained not only the town of Windsor but also what eventually became the towns of Enfield, Suffield, Simsbury, and others.


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