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Transportation


Illustration of a woman on horse, woodcut

Sarah Kemble Knight’s Journey through Colonial Connecticut

In 1704, when long distance travel was rare and roads crude, a Boston woman journeyed by horseback to New York City and recorded her views of Connecticut along the way.

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Shipbuilding at Gildersleeve Ship Construction Co., Portland

The Gildersleeve Shipbuilding Legacy in Portland

The town of Portland has a rich history of shipbuilding….

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DN-1: The US Navy’s First Airship

The United States military’s experience with lighter-than-air technology began with the Connecticut Aircraft Company’s DN-1 airship built for the navy in 1917.

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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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Connecticut Turnpike Opens – Today in History: January 2

On January 2, 1958, Governor Abraham Ribicoff officially opened the Connecticut Turnpike—today the Governor John Davis Lodge Turnpike—to traffic.

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State Street and Old Ferry Landing, New London

New London’s Ferries: A Transportation Tradition

December 16, 2020 • Groton, New London, Transportation

For more than three centuries, ferry service has provided vital transportation to residents and businesses around New London.

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East Thompson train wreck, December 4, 1891

The Day Four Trains Collided in East Thompson

December 4, 2020 • Disaster, Thompson, Transportation

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

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Pierre Lallement and the Modern-Day Pedal Bicycle – Today in History: November 20

On November 20, 1866, mechanic Pierre Lallement, a temporary resident of New Haven, Connecticut, received a patent for an improvement in velocipedes.

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Fayerweather Island Lighthouse, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Kate Moore: Lighthouse Keeper and Coast Guard Heroine

In the 1800s, Kate Moore was pioneering lighthouse keeper in Bridgeport, assuming her responsibilities at age twelve.

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Kaman Aircraft, 1949

Helicopters, Guitars, and Guide Dogs: The Revolutionary Mind of Charles Kaman

Charles Kaman, an inventor and aviation pioneer, managed to combine…

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Map detail from Turnpikes of Connecticut,

Oxford: From Paths to Pikes

October 22, 2020 • Derby, Oxford, Southbury, Transportation, Woodbury

When colonists first settled around Oxford, Connecticut, roads consisted of…

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View on the Erie Canal

Benjamin Wright: The Father of American Civil Engineering

October 18, 2020 • Transportation, Wethersfield, Work

Benjamin Wright helped build transportation and canal systems in the…

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Steam tugboat J. W. Coultston, ca.1890s

The Great River: Connecticut’s Main Stream

Highway. Barrier. Resource. Sewer. Over the centuries each of these names has been used to describe one of the defining feature’s of the state’s landscape.

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United States Army dirigible with crowd of onlookers

Airborne Pioneers: Connecticut Takes Flight

Daring flights and first-of-a-kind inventions mark the state’s 200-plus-year history of taking to the skies.

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Work on foundation of the Bulkeley Bridge

The Sand Hogs Set the Foundation for the Bulkeley Bridge

August 15, 2020 • Social Movements, Transportation, Work

Toiling in dangerous conditions beneath the Connecticut River’s surface for only $2.50 a day, African American workers dug the foundation for the Bulkeley Bridge.

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Connecticut History Day 2021: Communication in History

The of exchange of words, thoughts, and ideas also lay behind some of the most monumental events that happened right here in Connecticut

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Collision on the Housatonic Railroad near Bridgeport

Horror on the Housatonic: The Railroad Disaster of August 1865

August 14, 2020 • 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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Engine number 36 in a Hartford station

Steam Railroads Transform Connecticut Travel and Commerce

In 1832, the state chartered its first railroad and ushered in a new age of fast, and sometimes dangerous, regional transportation.

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Launching of the Nautilus

Launching of the USS Nautilus 1954

The USS Nautilus demonstrates Connecticut’s continuing maritime traditions and dedication…

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Detail of Connecticut and Parts Adjacent, 1780

Levi Pease, Stage Route and Transportation Innovator

Somers, Connecticut, a small town near the state’s border with…

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Mystic River Bridge

Mystic River Bridge Opens – Today in History: July 19

July 19, 2020 • Groton, Transportation

On July 19, 1922, the Mystic River Bridge spanning the…

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The Farmington Canal near Mount Carmel in Hamden

New England’s Grand Ambition: The Farmington Canal

Connecticut took leading role in waterway that transformed the region’s commerce.

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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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Map of Farmington and Avon, indicating the Farmington Canal and its feeders

Farmington Canal’s Ground-Breaking – Today in History: July 4

July 4, 2020 • Granby, Transportation

On July 4, 1825, the ground-breaking ceremonies for the Farmington…

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Flying Machine patent

Flying High with Early Dirigible

In what would later be described as “the first flight of a man-carrying dirigible in America,” aeronaut Mark Quinlan piloted a machine designed and patented by Charles F. Ritchel.

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The Lemon Law – Today in History: June 4

On June 4, 1982, Connecticut made legislative history by pioneering…

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Mayor Insists Air Terminal to Aid Idle

“Something to Show for Our Work”: Building Brainard Airport

At the height of the Great Depression, unemployed men living around Hartford, became a cheap source of labor to help build Brainard airport.

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Connecticut Supreme Court

Parking Authority Created in New Haven – Today in History: June 2

June 2, 2020 • Law, New Haven, Transportation

On June 2, 1953, the Connecticut Supreme Court of Errors,…

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Setting Speed Limits – Today in History: May 21

On May 21, 1901, Connecticut passed An Act Regulating the…

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Comstock covered bridge

The Comstock Bridge Brings East Hampton Residents Together

Over the Salmon River in East Hampton rests the Comstock…

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Interior West Cornwall Covered Bridge

West Cornwall Covered Bridge: An Icon of New England Craftsmanship

The community of West Cornwall is home to one of…

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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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Borough of Stonington

Settled in 1752, Stonington became a fishing, shipbuilding, whaling, and sealing center and survived attacks during both the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

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Charter Oak Bridge construction, ca. 1941

Last State Highway Toll Paid – Today in History: April 28

April 28, 2020 • Transportation

On April 28, 1989, William Thornton, president of the Manchester…

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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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Bradley Field, Windsor Locks

Bradley International Airport Transforms Windsor Locks into Regional Gateway

Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks is Connecticut’s largest airport and the second largest in New England.

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Postcard of New London Bridge on Thames River, New London, Conn.

I-95 Reaches New London

The arrival of I-95 to New London brought tremendous change to the city’s infrastructure, as well as to its businesses and neighborhoods.

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Governor Trumbull becomes first governor in the nation to qualify for a pilot's license

John H. Trumbull: Connecticut’s “Flying Governor”

In 1926, at the age of 53, Connecticut governor John H. Trumbull received his pilot’s license. Piloting flights to his own appointments, he became known as “The Flying Governor.”

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The Interstate Highway System Comes to Hartford

February 11, 2020 • Hartford, Transportation

By Richard C. Malley Beginning in the mid-1930s, state and…

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John Fitch's steamboat model

John Fitch Born – Today in History: January 21

On January 21, 1743, John Fitch, an inventor and pioneer…

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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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Aerial view of Black Rock Turnpike Bridge and Vicinity

Overland Travel in Connecticut, from Footpaths to Interstates

By overcoming the limitation of distance, transportation makes possible the many economic and social interactions that allow a community, a people, an entire culture, to thrive

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Detail of Map exhibiting the route of the Norwich & Worcester Railroad

Iron and Water: The Norwich & Worcester Railroad Story

November 16, 2019 • Norwich, Transportation

Connecticut’s early railroad history had at its core the goal of linking New York City and Boston through a hybrid system of steamboats and trains.

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Igor Sikorsky and the first successful helicopter built in America, Stratford

Igor Sikorsky and his Flying Machines

This Russian émigré not only invented a machine capable of controlled vertical flight, he also re-invented his aviation career along the way.

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Advertisement for July 4th balloon flight

Silas Brooks, Balloonist

This Connecticut native earned fame as a crowd-pleasing musician, showman, and aeronaut.

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Merritt Parkway, New York to Connecticut, 1941

Merritt Parkway Creates Scenic Gateway to New England

This Depression-era road improvement project sought to artfully balance the natural and built environments, and despite setbacks and scandal, achieved its aims.

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Essex-Lyme ferry

Ferry Boats a Way of Life in Early Connecticut

From the 1600s on, Connecticut’s long coastline and river systems made ferry crossings a routine but sometime dangerous fact of life.

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Electromagnetic Signal Apparatus for Railroads

Thomas Hall’s Electric Block Railroad Signal – Today in History: June 7

On June 7, 1870, Thomas Hall patented the electromagnetic signal…

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Diagram of SS Savannah

Steaming Across the Atlantic

New London‘s advantageous location on Long Island Sound made it…

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Advertisement for the Eastern line of stages, 1842

Stagecoach Sustained Commerce and Communication in 1800s

In its early 19th-century heyday, stagecoach travel was a large-scale enterprise and a source of livelihood for many state residents.

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Lisbon Tunnel Completed – Today in History: August 28

The Norwich and Worcester Railroad built the first railroad tunnel in Connecticut, and one of the first tunnels in the nation, in the town of Lisbon in the 1830s.

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President Roosevelt and his entourage in Hartford

Roosevelt Rides in an Electric Car – Today in History: August 22

On August 22, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt rode through the…

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Charles K. Hamilton

Hamilton Breaks Air Records – Today in History: June 13

On June 13, 1910, Charles Keeney Hamilton of New Britain…

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1819-1865

During the early 19th century, the General Assembly was slow to deal with rising crime, poverty and the other social costs of a rapidly changing society.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1776-1818

During the American Revolution, loyalists were common in Connecticut. Those sympathetic to the patriot cause helped provide for the Continental army.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1929-1964

Organized labor grew strong during wartime while discriminatory practices in housing and education persisted throughout the state.

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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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Illuminations at the entrance to the Bulkeley Bridge

Mighty, Mighty Hartford

In October of 1908, Hartford celebrated the opening of the…

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Connecticut Valley R. R. schedule

Connecticut Valley Railroad’s First Train – Today in History: July 29

On July 29, 1871, a ceremonial train ran along the…

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Mead Memorial Park, New Canaan

Summer Crowds Flocked to New Canaan and Stayed

Like many towns in Connecticut, New Canaan owes much of…

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Lattice Truss Bridge, Ithiel Town

Town Patents the Lattice Truss Bridge – Today in History: January 28

On January 28, 1820, architect Ithiel Town was granted a…

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Detail from a map of Connecticut and Rhode Island, with Long Island Sound, 1776

Boston Post Road Carved out Three Travel Routes through State

The forerunners of Connecticut’s three interstate highways began as rugged postal routes in the 1600s.

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Hindenburg over The Travelers Tower

Video – The Hindenburg Flies Over Hartford

This video, taken in October of 1936, shows the Hindenburg sailing over Hartford, a short seven months before its destruction.

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Rails and Paper Trails

August 6, 2016 • Stonington, Transportation

From the first tracks laid in 1830 to a system…

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John Warner Barber, South Western view of Ashford, Conn

The Path to Ashford’s Progress

Ashford’s location between Boston and Hartford once made it an…

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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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Automobiles waiting to cross

East Haddam Swing Bridge – Today in History: June 14

June 14, 2016 • East Haddam, Transportation

On June 14, 1913, the East Haddam Swing Bridge officially…

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Detail from Puck magazine, "It costs money to fix things" - C P Huntington

Collis P. Huntington: The Boy from Poverty Hollow

From a poverty-stricken life in Harwinton, Connecticut, Collis Huntington grew to be one of the wealthiest and most powerful railroad men of his era.

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1893-94 Duryea

Frank Duryea Drives the First Automobile in Connecticut

Frank Duryea was a long-time Madison resident who helped develop…

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Pope Automobile Model S, Seven Passenger Car, 1909

Albert Augustus Pope, Transportation Pioneer

Pope’s bicycles and automobiles not only gave 19th-century consumers greater personal mobility, they also helped propel social change.

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The crew and passengers of the steamboat Sunshine

Rising Tide: Steamboat Workers on the Connecticut River

October 8, 2015 • Transportation, Work

For the deck hands, stevedores, and firemen who made the steamboats of the Hartford Line run, 18-hour days, dangerous conditions, and lousy food were the norm.

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Detail from a Map of the survey for a canal route for manufacturing purposes from the head of Enfield Falls to Hartford

Windsor Engineers Success

In the early 19th century the Connecticut River was an…

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Hamilton making adjustments to his biplane, 1911

Looking Back: the First “Aero Planes”

New flying machines drew excited crowds to the 1911 opening of a new bridge between Saybrook and Old Lyme.

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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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Detail from Map of the Farmington Canal

Farmington Canal Designed to Give Connecticut Commerce a Competitive Edge

Commerce for the United States of America in the early…

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Railroad bridge, Norwich, ca. 1870

Combined Rail-and-Water System Makes Norwich a Key Travel Hub in Mid-1800s

October 8, 2014 • Norwich, Transportation

For waterfront towns like Norwich (located on the Thames River),…

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A Shipping and Railroad Magnate Remembers His Connecticut Roots

Charles Morgan was a shipping and railroad magnate who earned…

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The Jedediah Strong Milestone

Hidden Nearby: Jedediah Strong’s Milestone

The Litchfield man behind this colonial-era mile marker led an accomplished but, ultimately, tragic life.

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View of the Merritt Parkway in the 1930's

Merritt Parkway 1939

As early as 1919 the Connecticut Department of Transportation recognized…

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Armstrong Rubber Company ad, June 1953

Armstrong Finds a Niche in the Tire Market

Armstrong tires, one of the most popular brands of automobile…

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Murphy Terminal, 1952

Bradley Field Enters the Jet Age

September 4, 2013 • Transportation, Windsor Locks

In 1952 a state-of-the-art terminal building, Murphy Terminal, was opened in the spirit of “if you build it, they will come.”

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Trolley interior, Branford Electric Railway - Trolley Museum

Branford Gets On the Trolley

The era of the trolley forever altered the development of…

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The Hartford Wheel Club, Hartford

The League of American Wheelmen and Hartford’s Albert Pope Champion the Good Roads Movement

How the 19th-century cycling craze led to improved roads and paved the way for future federal highway construction.

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Makris Diner, 1795 Berlin Turnpike, Wethersfield

A Hip Road Trip

Known as “Gasoline Alley” during the 1950s, the Berlin Turnpike boasts a heady visual mix of neon, brand names, logos, and 1960s’ motel Modernism.

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J.O. Davidson, Battle of Port Hudson

Connecticut’s Naval Contributions to the Civil War

From makers of gun boats to bakers of ship biscuits, companies across the Nutmeg state helped keep the Union navy afloat while sea-savvy leaders and sailors from the state kept it in fighting form.

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Deep River, 1934 aerial survey

Road Signs of the Air

In the 1920s, when aviation was still in its infancy, most pilots navigated using road maps and by following highways, rivers, and other landmarks that they could see from the air.

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Detail of the Bethany Airport Hanger from the Aerial survey of Connecticut 1934

A Busy Airfield in Bethany

In 1920, a small airplane landed in a flat, open…

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Hartford Street Railway Company Electricians, ca. 1907. Electrifying the railroad created new jobs

A Revolution in Horse Power: The Hartford & Wethersfield Horse Railroad Goes Electric

In 1888, Hartford commuters and city-goers zipped down Wethersfield Avenue in a horseless trolley car for the first time.

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Fields and pastures, Sharon

Turnpikes and Transportation in Sharon

March 4, 2013 • Sharon, Transportation

The town of Sharon, like many early communities in the…

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Detail of North Stonington from Town and city atlas of the State of Connecticut

North Stonington: Shunock River and Local Ambitions Powered a 19th-century Mill Town

European settlement in the area of North Stonington dates back…

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Inventor Charles F. Ritchel

Charles Ritchel and the Dirigible

An entrepreneur’s design for a lighter-than-air vehicle takes flight in the late 1800s and inspires a new state industry.

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Map showing a newly laid road in relationship to the Talcott Mountain Turnpike

Early Turnpikes Provided Solution to Lack of Reliable Roads

September 19, 2012 • Avon, Transportation

Although few of the privately managed toll-roads of the 1800s proved profitable for investors, state commerce benefited in the long run.

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