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Harnessing the Waterways: The History of Middletown’s Dams

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 190 Court St Middletown CT 06457  See map

The Jonah Center for Earth and Art invites the public to a talk by Wesleyan University Associate Professor of Philosophy Elise Springer on the relationship between Middletown’s early industrial history and water power from its rivers and streams. The program will be held on Thursday, November 8, 7 – 8:30 p.m. at First Church of Christ, Congregational, 190 Court Street, in Middletown. This event is co-sponsored by the Middlesex County Historical Society


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 .

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