December 4, 2013 · 7:16 pm
Although the Town Hill Church, and the original town center, was located on the very top of the hill*; the settlement extended partially down both sides almost immediately.
Two of the most important houses sat on the plateau just below the crest that marked the first break on the long hill up from the valley. These two houses had a commanding view of the Farmington River. One was Israel Loomis’ house, the site of the first Town meeting in New Hartford, which took place before the Town Hill Church was built. The other was the home of the first reverend in New Hartford, Reverend Jonathan Marsh. When Rev. Marsh built his house he told the men to cut down all of the white birches between his house and Loomis so that he could see his neighbours; a far cry from today’s preference for privacy screening. He apparently turned it into something of a race, promising more rum as payment for faster work. Rum was a standard form of barter currency at the time.
Today, Marsh’s house no longer stands, though part of the foundation is still visible. The current house, an imposing and distinctive house with three massive center chimneys, is called Hillandale, a suitable name for a house that watches over both.
*It isn’t quite, the hill is ten feet taller a quarter mile to the north (back towards the Farmington) and a hundred feet taller a mile to the south on Yellow Mountain. But they were close. And the high point of Yellow Mountain has never been easily accessed.
June 13, 2012 · 7:26 pm
The Dugway is the stretch of Route 44 between the Mobil station in Pine Meadow, opposite Wicket Street, and the Dunkin Donuts. This short piece of road was created when the railroad tracks were put in during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Its name is, of course, a very literal one; in order to create it the hill was cut away and flattened. Today the embankments, the railroad alignment, and the retaining wall that drops into the Farmington River stand as testimony to the manmade nature of this section.
Prior to the railroads, the main highway was the Farmington River Turnpike on the other side of the river, crossing at a ford between the current Rt. 219 bridge and the Town Hall. The south side did have a road, but it was higher up the hill; possibily an extension of High Street and Fairview Avenue. This was one of the original proprieters’ roads and ran along the side of the hill between Town Hill and the Satan’s Kingdom road.
In the early period, pre-1800, the North center of town (now the town center) barely existed, except as a ford. In the same period, Pine Meadow was known as Kelloggsville and was a small agricultural center, taking advantage of the wide floodplain that exists below the current Route 219 bridge. For Pine Meadow inhabitants, if they chose to go the center of town (Town Hill) it was no slower to start climbing the hill in Pine Meadow. It was only when industry began to grow that a direct route between Pine Meadow and the North Village became mandatory, hence the Dugway.
Filed under Roads, Villages
March 7, 2012 · 7:31 pm
New Hartford has two major reservoirs within it: the Compensating Reservoir on the Farmington River and the Nepaug Reservoir on the Nepaug River. Both of these reservoir systems were designed for supplying Hartford with drinking water. Today, the surrounding MDC land creates a great deal of the open space in New Hartford, though this land, although given the highest protection possible by the MDC, is not actually protected as open space. The Nepaug Reservoir began to be discussed in the early twentieth century and was actually built in the 1930’s; concerns about the lack of drinking water and adequate fire protection had begun to be discussed in the 1890’s. The reservoir covered nearly 850 acres of the Nepaug River valley. In this valley were two cemeteries, much of the Nepaug village, and a number of farms. It has been estimated that even in a dry year the Nepaug Reservoir supplies Hartford with 26,000,000 gallons a day.
Although the popular consensus was that the loss of the Nepaug village was minor, in comparison to the public benefit; it was a major and traumatic change for New Hartford. The Nepaug valley had been an equal to both the town center and Bakerville in the nineteenth century in terms of local importance. The village was never very compact, rather it spread out down the river. Consequently, part of the village still remains. However, newspapers of the era record a number of homes and farms that dated back to the earliest years of New Hartford, which are now lost beneath the water.
Today Rte. 202 runs above the reservoir, but the original road ran through the bottom of the valley, along the river.
February 15, 2012 · 2:53 pm
Like all New England towns, New Hartford is actually composed of several villages. Originally these were distinct areas of settlement, surrounded by outlying pasture and woodland regions. Today, extensive development has blurred the distinct nature of these villages. A village’s location was determined by a number of different factors: convenient road intersections or river crossings, geographically and politically important locations, prime agricultural land, or access to water power. Not surprisingly, all of these factors had some role in the location of New Hartford’s five villages. All three had their schools, stores, churches and graveyards.
The first village was that of Town Hill. Its center was located at the corner of Rte. 219 and Hoppen Road, now the Memorial Bell Park. This location was probably selected for two reasons: it is about a quarter mile from the geographic center of town and it is a broad, flat hilltop reasonably well suited for farming. However, it was not on main highway and with poorer soils than those of the river valleys, along with no water-power, Town Hill was essentially abandoned as a village by the mid-1800’s.
The second village was that of Nepaug, originally called the town center. Located on the Nepaug River on what is now Rte. 202, but was then the Hartford-Litchfield Turnpike, this village had access to superior farmland in the Nepaug Valley and was on a main road, unlike Town Hill.
Bakerville and Pine Meadow were established shortly thereafter in the mid to late 1700’s. Like Nepaug they had the advantage of riparian agricultural land, easy access to water-power, and transportation links. All three river villages were centers of light industry, as well as trade and postal centers throughout the nineteenth century. Stagecoaches stopped daily in all three.
The last village was the North center. This is now what we consider the center of town. Although the Prospect and Holcomb Hill areas, which were part of the North Village, were farming areas, this center truly began to grow, along with Pine Meadow, in the 1820’s when the Farmington River was dammed and diverted in order to generate large amounts of power. The advent of the railway gave a further boost to Pine Meadow and North Villages, as the mainline of the eventual Central New England Railway and a line of New Haven and Hartford Railway ran through the villages.
Filed under Names, Villages