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Disaster


Tariffville Train Wreck

The Tariffville Disaster – Today in History: January 14

On January 14, 1878, at about 10:00 in the evening, a span of the Tariffville Bridge gave way, plunging a Connecticut Western Railroad train into the Farmington River 20 feet below.

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Byram River, Pemberwick, October 16, 1955

Byram River Flood – Today in History: October 15

A few minutes before 11:00 pm on October 15, 1955,…

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Sandbags in Rockville. September 22, 1938

Hurricane of 1938: Connecticut’s Worst Disaster

Deadly as well as costly, this storm scarred the landscape for decades after and left each Connecticut family with its own tale to tell of the ruinous events.

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Red Cross Emergency Ambulance Station

The Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918

For those who lived through the 1918 flu, life was never same. John Delano of New Haven recalled, “The neighborhood changed. People changed. Everything changed.”

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Second Congregational Church, Greenwich

Bucket Brigade to the Rescue – Today in History: September 12

September 12, 2019 • Disaster, Greenwich

On September 12, 1873, the bell in the Episcopal Church…

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Collision on the Housatonic Railroad near Bridgeport

Horror on the Housatonic: The Railroad Disaster of August 1865

August 14, 2019 • Disaster, Transportation

Despite measures to ensure the safe operation of railroad trains traveling in opposite directions on single-track lines, things sometimes went wrong—with deadly results.

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Bridgeport’s Catastrophic 1911 Train Wreck

In the early morning hours of July 11, 1911, a train derailed in Bridgeport, killing fourteen people. Among the first responders were members of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team.

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The Hartford Circus Fire

Thursday July 6, 1944, was a miserably hot day in…

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Firemen work to douse the last flames of a fire that swept through Gulliver's Restaurant

Deadly Fire at Gulliver’s – Today in History: June 30

June 30, 2019 • Disaster, Greenwich

In the early morning hours of June 30, 1974, a…

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Aunt Polly and Its Preservation

Screen actor, director, and playwright William Gillette owned a houseboat he named Aunt Polly. He lived on the boat and entertained there while he awaited final construction of his Connecticut mansion in East Haddam.

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Combined Telegraph Key and Sounder

Learning about the Lusitania: How Hartford Heard the News

May 7, 2019 • Disaster, Everyday Life

Citizens turned to outdoor bulletin boards, city bus drivers, and other lines of communication to get the latest news on the fate of the ship’s passengers.

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The Collapse of the L’Ambiance Plaza

On April 23, 1987, twenty-eight workers lost their lives during a collapse at the L’Ambiance Plaza construction site in Bridgeport.

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Hard Times: Governor Wilbur Cross and the Great Depression in Connecticut

In addition to having a section of the Merritt Parkway named after him, Governor Wilbur Cross helped see Connecticut through the Great Depression and several natural disasters.

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Triangle Shirtwaist Fire: Connecticut Lessons from a Tragedy

While the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in New York City is one of the most famous tragedies behind the organized labor movement, Connecticut had its share of equally dangerous work environments in the early 20th century. Many of them inspired Connecticut Workers to organize.

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Waterbury, Bank Street. After the Great Blizzard

The Blizzard of 1888 – Today in History: March 11

March 11, 2019 • Disaster, Weather

On Sunday, March 11, 1888, a blizzard came unexpectedly to…

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Ruins of North College, Wesleyan University, Middletown

Fire at Wesleyan’s North College – Today in History: March 1

On March 1, 1906, North College at Wesleyan University in…

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Union Station during the Fire of February 21, 1914

Fire and Ice: A Very Bad Week in 1914

Hartford’s Union Station and Allyn Hall caught fire on two different days in February. Only one still stands today.

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Ruins of the Upper Dam of the Kohanza Reservoir in Danbury

Frozen Reservoir Destroys Danbury – Today in History: January 31

January 31, 2019 • Danbury, Disaster, Weather

On January 31, 1869, Danbury’s Kohanza Reservoir froze. At around…

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Fire at G. Fox & Co., Main Street, Hartford

G. Fox & Co. Destroyed by Fire – Today in History: January 29

On January 29, 1917, at about 11:00 pm, watchmen discovered…

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Civic Center Collapse

Civic Center Roof Collapses – Today in History: January 18

On January 18, 1978, at about 4:20 in the morning,…

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East Thompson train wreck, December 4, 1891

The Day Four Trains Collided in East Thompson

December 4, 2018 • Disaster, Thompson, Transportation

Thompson, Connecticut, was the site of one of the most…

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Sandbagging at the Stanley P. Rockwell Co

The Flood That We Forget: October 15 and 16, 1955

When we speak of the “Flood of 1955,” we should remind ourselves that two separate floods, one in August and a second one in October, occurred.

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New England burst its boilers off Essex, October 8, 1833

The Steamboat New England: “The shock was dreadful” – Today in History: October 8

October 8, 2018 • Disaster, Environment, Essex

One of the worst steamboat disasters occurred on the dark…

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Rescue Scene, Hurricane, September 1938

The Great Hurricane of 1938 – Today in History: September 21

September 21, 2018 • Disaster, Greenwich, Weather

The most devastating hurricane in New England history.

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Downed tree after the tornado at Wallingford

The Great Wallingford Tornado – Today in History: August 9

August 9, 2018 • Disaster, Wallingford, Weather

On August 9, 1878, a tornado swept from west to…

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Height of the fire on Greenwich Avenue February 22, 1936

The Greenwich Avenue Fires of 1908 and 1936 Sparked Upgrades to Town’s Emergency Services

July 17, 2018 • Disaster, Greenwich

From the ashes emerged new approaches to coordinating the town’s fire fighting resources.

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Clown with bucket

The Hartford Circus Fire – Today in History: July 6

July 6, 2018 • Disaster, Hartford, P.T. Barnum

In the summer of 1944 the Ringling Brothers and Barnum…

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Collapse of the Mianus River Bridge

Mianus River Bridge Collapses – Today in History: June 28

June 28, 2018 • Disaster, Greenwich

Not long after midnight on June 28, 1983, a section…

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Waterbury Tornado – Today in History: May 24

On May 24, 1962, a tornado hit the towns of…

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Hamilton Wrecks Aeroplane – Today in History: April 22

On April 22, 1911, aviation pioneer Charles Hamilton crashed his…

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1965-Now

The state generated revenue for urban renewal and social programs through gaming and income tax initiatives.

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The City of Hartford steamboat after collision with railroad bridge

Steamboat Accident – Today in History: March 29

On March 29, 1876, the steamboat City of Hartford, of…

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Bursting of the Staffordville Reservoir

Bursting of the Staffordville Reservoir – Today in History: March 27

On March 27, 1877, the Staffordville Reservoir Company’s dam burst,…

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Park Central Hotel disaster

Park Central Hotel Boiler Explosion – Today in History: February 18

In the pre-dawn hours of February 18, 1889, the Park Central Hotel in Hartford was ripped apart by a steam boiler explosion.

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Ruins of commercial buildings on Grand Street, Waterbury

Waterbury Burns – Today in History: February 2

February 2, 2018 • Disaster, Waterbury

High Winds Whipped Waterbury Fire On the evening of February…

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Ruins of the Upper Dam of the Kohanza Reservoir in Danbury

Frozen Reservoir Destroys Danbury – Today in History: January 31

January 31, 2018 • Danbury, Disaster, Weather

On January 31, 1869, Danbury’s Kohanza Reservoir froze. At around…

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Fire at G. Fox & Co., Main Street, Hartford

G. Fox & Co. Destroyed by Fire – Today in History: January 29

On January 29, 1917, at about 11:00 pm, watchmen discovered…

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Civic Center Collapse

Civic Center Roof Collapses – Today in History: January 18

On January 18, 1978, at about 4:20 in the morning,…

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“Appalling Calamity”: Loss of the Steamboat Lexington – Today in History: January 13, 1840

On January 13, 1840, over 150 people perished on Long Island Sound when the steamboat Lexington caught fire. Only four survived the “Appalling Calamity,” as newspapers across the country described it.

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Red Cross Headquarters, Hurricane of 1944

The Great Atlantic Hurricane Hits Connecticut

September 14, 2017 • Disaster

Applying lessons learned from the Hurricane of 1938, Connecticut made extensive preparations before the arrival of a similar storm in 1944.

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Flood damage to railroad tracks, Derby, 1955

Hurricanes Connie & Diane Deliver Double Hit – Who Knew?

…that Hurricanes Connie and Diane, which struck within days of…

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Fuller Brush building following collapse of tower

Fuller Brush Tower Collapses – Today in History: March 31

On March 31, 1923, a 56,000-gallon water tank dropped through…

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Video – When Disaster Struck: The Flood of 1936, Part I

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with the Flood of 1936. The flood stands as the worst natural disaster to ever hit Hartford and the other towns that lie along the Connecticut River.

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Video – When Disaster Struck: The Flood of 1936, Part 2

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with the Flood of 1936. The flood stands as the worst natural disaster to ever hit Hartford and the other towns that lie along the Connecticut River.

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Middletown, Main Street

Video – When Disaster Struck: King Blizzard

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with the monumental storm that hit New England in March of 1888. King Blizzard delivered 20 to 50 inches of snow with drifts of up to 20 feet.

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Blizzard of 1888 - Hartford, corner of Main Street and State Street

Blizzard of 1888 Devastates State

An unexpected and deadly March storm, stretching from Washington, DC, to the Canadian border, buried Connecticut in as much as 50 inches of snow.

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The boiler that fed the machinery at the Fales & Gray Car Works in Hartford exploded

Fales & Gray Explosion – Today in History: March 2

On March 2, 1854, a steam boiler explosion rocked the…

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Union Station during the Fire of February 21, 1914

Fire and Ice: A Very Bad Week in 1914

Hartford’s Union Station and Allyn Hall caught fire on two different days in February. Only one still stands today.

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Armory Fire

Colt Armory Burns – Today in History: February 4

On February 4, 1864, most of Colt’s East Armory burned…

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Hazard's Electric Gunpowder, Hazard Powder Company

Colonel Augustus G. Hazard, Gunpowder Manufacturer – Who Knew?

…that Connecticut resident, Augustus G. Hazard owned and operated over…

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Video – When Disaster Struck: The 1938 Hurricane, Part I

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with the 1938 Hurricane.

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Piling sandbags, Colt dike

The Hurricane of 1938 Rocks Connecticut

Together the combination of chance and human error produced the most destructive hurricane in Connecticut’s history.

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Torrington Recovers after the Flood of ‘55

In August of 1955, two hurricanes that moved through Connecticut…

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Eighteen-hundred-and-froze-to-death: 1816, The Year Without a Summer

Sunspots and volcanic eruptions led to cooler than normal temperatures in the summer of 1816. The cold weather decimated harvests and encouraged many residents to head West into the area of modern Ohio.

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Fire at Cos Cob School, Roberta Lindstrom, photographer

Fire Ravages Cos Cob School – Today in History: July 29

July 29, 2016 • Disaster, Greenwich

At 1:59 a.m. on July 29, 1990, a smoke detector…

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The White Mountain Express, traveling 50 miles per hour went off the track in Greenwich

The White Mountain Express Derails in Greenwich

July 16, 2016 • Disaster, Everyday Life, Greenwich

On July 16, 1908, the gong of the ambulances on Greenwich Avenue broadcast one of the worst accidents on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

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Greenwich Emergency Responders: On the Move Overtime

Horses, motorcycles, and boats are just a few of the modes of transportation that town emergency personnel have used over the years to get to where they’re needed.

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New York and New Haven Railroad train bound from Manhattan

Misread Signal Leads to Deadly South Norwalk Train Wreck – Who Knew?

…that by 1853, the era of steamboat transportation had largely…

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The boiler that fed the machinery at the Fales & Gray Car Works in Hartford exploded

Today in History – Fales & Gray Explosion Underscores Need for a Hartford Hospital

At 2 pm on March 2, 1854, the power of…

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Meriden town hall during renovation, 1890

Meriden Town Hall Burns Down – Today in History: February 14

February 14, 2016 • Disaster, Meriden

On February 14, 1904, Meriden’s town hall burned to the…

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Eighty-Five Hundred Souls: the 1918-1919 Flu Epidemic in Connecticut

December 12, 2015 • Disaster, Health and Medicine, New London

The state’s busy ports, and particularly New London’s Navy base, provided an easy point of entry for the disease that claimed millions of lives around the world.

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Steamer City of Hartford

A Night to Remember: When the Steamboat Took on the Railroad—and Lost

A case of mistaken identity causes a vessel to crash into a bridge and results in new a rule for marking safe passage with red lights.

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February 2, 1902, a fire broke out at Reid & Hughes dry goods store in Waterbury

Six Cities Respond to 1902 Waterbury Fire – Who Knew?

…that the fire, which swept through Waterbury on a stormy…

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The Surprising Prevalence of Earthquake Activity in Connecticut

Connecticut has experienced thousands of earthquakes since European settled the area. The most active site for seismic activity is the village of Moodus in East Haddam.

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Detail of the Town Hall, Public Library, and Fire Department and the Bristol Manufacturing Company

The Plainville Town Hall Catches Fire

Built in 1890, the three-story Plainville Town Hall quickly became…

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Fire Bucket

Firefighters Answer the Call in Greenwich

November 1, 2013 • Disaster, Greenwich, Work

From neighbors rushing to help neighbors and the town’s first fire department, which opened in 1879, to the present day, the volunteer tradition of firefighting continues despite many changes over the decades.

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Video – When Disaster Struck: The 1938 Hurricane, Part 3

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with the 1938 Hurricane.

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Video – When Disaster Struck Connecticut: The Flood of 1955

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with “The Flood of 1955” in the wake of Hurricanes Connie and Diane.

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Ensign, Bickford & Company fuse factory campus, ca. late 1800s

The Steady Evolution of a Connecticut Family Business

The product that helped build America’s railroads, mine her natural resources, expand the Panama Canal, and even blow up tree stumps in local farm fields harkens to a time when Simsbury and Avon were “fuse-making-mad.”

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A fire swept through the tent at the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus in Hartford, July 6, 1944

Hartford Circus Fire: “The Tent’s on Fire!” – Who Knew?

…that the Hartford Circus Fire may be the worst human-caused…

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Video – When Disaster Struck: The 1938 Hurricane, Part 2

The CPTV Original, When Disaster Struck Connecticut, provides an in-depth look at the four major natural disasters that befell Connecticut between 1888 and 1955. This clip of archival sources and eyewitness accounts paints a vivid picture of how Connecticut residents coped with the 1938 Hurricane.

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