Tobacco in New Hartford

Tobacco was a major crop in the Central Connecticut Valley, and to a lesser extent in the Housatonic Valley.   Although in early years it was general purpose, it was later renowned in the cigar trade. Because tobacco was a very high value crop, it was natural for farmers elsewhere to at least attempt to grow it.  In New Hartford, tobacco was not a common crop, because the heavy soil of the hills was not favourable.  It was, however, grown in the Farmington River Valley in Pine Meadow and just above Satan’s Kingdom.  These areas had the type of soil, and the slightly milder climate, which was required for tobacco.  It was not, however, a large enough crop to require the construction of the purpose built drying barns which once were the landmarks of the Connecticut River Valley.

In 1873, one of the main growers in town was Mr. Gilman.  His farm was located in the area where the Pine Meadow school now stands.  His primary business was dairy farming, and with 30 cows he was a major dairy product supplier for the neighbouring factory houses. However, he also grew hay, corn, and tobacco on a 30 acre meadow.   This meadow was, in fact, the floodplain of the Farmington River.  Today, this meadow’s tendency to flood has been reduced due to the construction of a dyke following the 1955 Flood.  But at the time, the nature of this flood-plain meant that the field was rich soil.   Consequently, the quality of Gilman’s tobacco was considered to rival the Connecticut River valley product and commanded the highest prices of all the growers in the town.

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