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Harbors of Long Island Sound:
Their History, Habitats and Industries


A Historic Tour of Milford Harbor

 
This area was settled in 1639 as an independent colony by a congregation of English Puritans led by their minister, the Reverend Peter Prudden. Land was purchased from Ansantawae, a sachem of the Paugusset Indians, for 6 coats, 10 blankets, 1 kettle, 12 hatchets, 12 hoes, 24 knives, and 12 small mirrors. The land was originally named Wepawaug. It was renamed Milford in November of 1640, joined New Haven Colony in 1643, and Connecticut Colony in 1664.

Early industries included shipbuilding (1690), oystering (1752), seed growing, and the manufacture of carriages, boots, shoes, straw hats, and brass/bronze fabrication. Each of these industries died out due to changes in the economy. However, Oystering ended rapidly due to the pollution from the Housatonic ruining the industry along the coast.
 

 
Liberty Rock

Directions:
Take Interstate 95 to exit 34 in Milford, Connecticut
Turn right at the light onto Route 1 (Post Road)
Almost immediately turn right at the next light into a shopping center
Liberty Rock is to the right of this shopping center

 
The terms "minutemen" and "militia" are often thought of as one and the same. However, in early America-- especially in the 18th century-- there was a distinct difference. Minute-men represented a small hand-picked force selected from the ranks of local militia companies and regiments. Approximately one-third of the men in each militia unit were chosen "to be ready to march or fight at a minute's notice."

The true minute-men--- always the first to appear at or await a battle--- stood at Lexington Green on the morning of April 19, 1775, and led the attack on Concord Bridge. Their numbers were reinforced by the regular militia that turned out in that day's historic battles. Actually, the concept of minute-men existed in America as early as the 17th century, while the term itself came into use in 1759 during the French and Indian War.

The title "minute-men" was formally adopted the year before the American Revolution started. At that time, in October of 1774, the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts voted to enroll 12,000 men under the title of Minute-Men--- volunteers who would be ready at a minute's warning to take to the field with arms.

After Congress authorized a Continental Army under the command of George Washington, minutemen units eventually ceased to exist. But their contribution as a trained and battle-hardened corps of veterans was an important and significant force as patriots took up arms to oppose the British army in the Revolutionary War.

Liberty Rock and this flag pole commemorate the Liberty Men of 1766 and thr Minutemen of 1776 to which Milford gave many men.

 

 
Devon
Directions:
Take a right out of the shopping center and continue along Route 1
At the fourth light, turn left onto River Cliff Drive
Immediately turn right and park in one of the two parking spots next to the park
 
The Village of Devon makes up the south western-most portion of the City of Milford. This area is predominantly a beach community along the Housatonic River and Long Island Sound. For many years people crossed the river via ferry boats. In 1802 the Washington Bridge was erected. This bridge was rebuilt as a steel bridge to allow trains to cross the water. The bridge is still in use and can be seen slightly up river from this park. As traffic increased along the Post Road the need for another bridge to connect Milford with Stratford became evident. The bridge that runs along the northern edge of this park was built in 1921. This park is newly created and allows for views of the two bridges and the Housatonic River.
 

 
CT Audubon Society
Center at Milford Point

Directions:
Continue along River Cliff Drive
At the stop sign turn left onto Edgemont
Follow Edgemont around the park
Take a right at the next stop sign
Continue uphill and take a right onto Lenox
Follow Lenox as it bends and becomes Baldwin
At the light turn right onto Naugatuck Road
Pass a blinking light
At next light take a right onto Milford Point Road (Krausers on the corner)
After entering Laurel Beach follow the road as it bends to the right
The road will make a hard left
At the stop sign turn right onto Seaview Avenue
Continue straight into the Audubon Center

 
Opened in 1995, the Coastal Center is located on an 8.4-acre barrier beach known as the Smith-Hubbell Wildlife Refuge that is situated next to the 840-acre Wheeler Wildlife Management Area (a salt marsh) at the mouth of the Housatonic River. These diverse and interactive environments of salt water, tidal marsh and fresh water create rich habitats which abound in plant and animal communities that are ideal for observation and study. Almost 400 bird species known to nest in Connecticut have been observed from the observation decks and observation towers of the Audubon Center.

More information can be found at the CT Audubon Society Center at Milford Point web page. This link also has the Live Osprey Cam which was placed at the Osprey nest seen in the pictures above.
 

 
Walnut Beach
Directions:
Exit the Audubon onto Seaview Avenue
Continue straight as Seaview turns into Broadway.
At the stop sign after Saint Gabriel's Church continue straight to East Broadway
Walnut Beach will be on your right
Parking at Walnut Beach requires a Milford Beach Sticker
Parking along the road is for no more than 2 hours and open to the public
 
Walnut Beach is commonly referred to as Myrtle Beach in many of the history books. The original Myrtle Beach spanned from the edge of Laurel Beach to Silver Sands State Park. This areas was a popular summer destination in the 1800 and early 1900's. My mother-in-law remembers coming to then Walnut Beach as child where there was miniature golf and many other activities where the parking lot now stands. A full account of the changes that occurred to this beautiful beach area can be found in the book:
"Sand in Our Shoes"
Walnut Beach-Mytle Beach Historical Association
copyright 2004
ISBN 0-9669159-4-1
 

 

Silver Sands State Park

Directions:
From the Walnut Beach parking area continue up the hill on Viscount Drive
At the stop sign take a right onto Monroe Street
As the road bends to the left the street changes to Pumpkin Delight Road

At the light turn right onto Meadows End Road
At the next light turn right into Silver Sands State Park

 
The early history of Silver Sands focuses on Charles Island. The Island is connected to the mainland by a sand/gravel bar (tombolo) that is submerged at high tide. Captain Kidd is reputed to have buried his treasure on the island in 1699. The only remains on the island are of a Catholic retreat center from the 1920's-30's. The island's interior is closed May 1 through August 31 to protect heron and egret rookeries.

State Park acquisition, ultimately involving over 300 parcels, began after hurricane "Diane" destroyed 75 homes in 1955. Early vision of the park was to create a "Hammonasset" type sand beach backed by parking lots on filled wetlands. The present master plan seeks to return the site to its historic past of interior tidal wetlands separated from the Sound by sand dunes.

More information can be found at the Connecticut DEP web page.
 

 
Fort Trumbull
Directions:
From the light
at the entrance/exit of Silver Sands State Park turn right
Follow Meadows End Road to its end
Turn right onto Seaside Avenue
At the end of Seaside, turn left onto Trumbull Avenue
 
During the Revolutionary War, Milford had become such a prosperous town that Fort Trumbull was built housing six canons for its defense. This site was also the original location of Captain Stephen Stows home which was later moved to the Milford Historical Society site. The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution recounts Captain Stephen Stow and his heroic events on a cold December night in 1776.
 

 
Milford Center
Walking Tour

Directions:
Continue along
Trumbull Avenue and turn left onto Rogers Avenue
Bear left onto Lafayette Avenue
At the stop sign, turn right onto Broad Street
At the first light turn right onto High Street
Take your first left onto Helwig Street/Factory Lane
Pass the boat yard and park in the public parking (large gravel lot)

 

The Simon Lake Submarine

Turn right out of the parking lot
Pass Scoopy Doos on the right
Pass Harborside Deli on the right
After Flotilla 73 on the right,
the submarine will be on the right

The Explorer, completed in 1938, was the last boat built by the pioneering submarine designer and builder, Simon Lake.
The Explorer was intended strictly for research and salvage and was linked to a mother ship for air and power. Divers could enter and leave the submarine through an escape hatch. The boat was also equipped with a mechanical arm and basket. Like Simon Lake's first great submarine, The Argonaut, Jr. (1894), the Explorer could travel under water either by the propeller or along the ocean floor on drive wheels.

 

 



Hotchkiss Bridge

Continue along the harbor
Pass Cancun Charlie's
At Pink By The Harborlook,
the bridge will be to the right

The Hotchkiss Bridge was dedicated in August of 1998 to A.K. (Al) Hotchkiss with gratitude for a lifetime of dedication to Milford Harbor. This bridge is the also the site where early settlers landed their tools, utensils, and building materials for the common house in August of 1639.

As you cross this footbridge look to the left underneath stonebridge to the waterfall.

The area on the other side of this bridge was once part of the harbor until the Hurricane of 1938. The silt deposited in the harbor from the storm was dredged and used to create the park and baseball fields you see today.

 


 
Stonebridge

At the other side of the Hotchkiss Bridge, make a 'U' turn and head uphill
The side of the library will be on the right
At the intersection with the road explore Stonebridge from both sides of the road

In 1888, Milford celebrated the 250th anniversary of the founding of the First Church. To celebrate this important date, the City of Milford paid $3,00 for the building of Stonebridge. The bridge bears a commemorative stone for each of the founding fathers of Milford. The first sermon ever given at the First Church can also be found carved into the stone. At each end of the bridge are large quarter-circle stones commemorating some of the most influential of the founding fathers. The towers on the west side of the bridge include bow and arrow hinges and knockers on the door to symbolize the signing of the deed for the purchase of Milford from the Paugusset.
 

 
Saint Peters Episcopal Church

Make your way up Daniel Street
Pass Stonebridge Restraint on the right
Pass Daniel Street on the left
At Cafe Atlantique turn right onto River St.
Pass underneath the train tracks
You will find St. Peters on the right

Saint Peters Episcopal Church is in the National Register of Historic Places.
 

 

Founding Fathers Monument

Continue alongRiver St.
Cross over a bridge
The will be on your right

This monument was dedicated on the 300th Anniversary of the settlement of the town of Milford. It is a memorial to the three Milford men who were governors of the colony of Connecticut.

Charles Hobby Pond (1781-1881) served the colony of Connecticut for three years as Deputy Governor 1852-1853 and Governor 1853-1854.


Robert Treat (1622-1710) was a founder of Milford and served the colony of Connecticut for 32 years as Deputy Governor 1676-1683, Governor 1683-1698, and Deputy Governor from 1698-1708. He led a company to New Jersey and founded Newark from 1665-1672. He returned to Milford and commanded Connecticut Troops in King Philips War. He was Governor when Sir Edmund Andros demanded charter which was not surrendered but was hidden in an oak tree

Jonathan Law (1672-1750) served the colony of Connecticut for 25 years as Deputy Governor from 1725-1742 and Governor from 1742-1750.

 

 
Milford Duck Pond

On the left side of the bridge is
the Milford Duck Pond
Make your way around the Duck Pond
Head up North Street
Left onto West Main Street
Left onto River Street


The Milford Duck Pond sits begin the old Town hall. The waters that flow over the dam feed into Milford harbor.
 

 

The Old Town Hall and War Memorial

Continue down River Street on the left side
Pass the new city hall on the right
Pass The Old City Hall on the Right
Standing in the center island the war memorial can be observed with
the old Town Hall in the background

 

 
Milford Chamber of Commerce

Continue down River Street
Go under the train tracks
Be sure you are on the right side
At the next light look to your right

The building that houses the Milford Chamber of Commerce used to be the known as the Taylor Library. This building was sold to the Town of Milford in 1895
by the Fowler family.
 

 
Milford Green

From the Milford Chamber of Commerce,
make your way to the middle of broad street to the Milford Green

History of Milford
World War II Memorial
 
Historic Bell
Flag Staff
 
Gettysburg Memorial
Gazebo
 
Vietnam Memorial
 

 
Milford Historic Society

Direction:
Make your way to the intersection of High Street and Broad Street
Tony's Bike Shop is on the corner
Cross over Broad Street and follow High Street back down towards the harbor
You will notice the Milford Historical Society on the right

 
The Milford Historical Society is made up of three houses that were transplanted from their original sites. Each building is of historical significance to the Town of Milford. The building shown above is the Eels-Stow House circa 1700. It is the home of Samuel Eels and Captain Stephen and Freelove Baldwin Stow. You will recall the story from the Sons of the American Revolution telling of Stows heroics.
 
Bryan-Downs House

The Bryan Downs House was owned by Captain Jeheil Bryan (circa 1785) and Ebenezer Downs (circa 1837). The building currently houses a museum with exhibits that are changed on a regular basis.
 
Nathan Clark Stockade House

The Nathan Clark Stockade House circa 1659 was rebuilt in 1780 and was the original Milford Hospital. The modern day Milford Hospital is built on the land where this building used to reside.
 
 

 
Wilcox Park

Directions:
After making your way back to your car, take a right on to Factory Lane
Pass Harborside Deli, Flotilla 73, the Submarine, Cancun Charlie's,
Pink By The Harbor, and Archie Moore's
At the light turn right and pass over Stonebridge.
Pass the Library on the right and the Firehouse on the left
Take your first right onto Harborside Drive
A short ways down, park on the side of the road

 
Wilcox Park, affectionately known as "Harbor Woods" is a 20 acres on the east bank of the harbor. The land was given to the Town of Milford in August of 1909 by Clark Wilcox. This park has a hard packed surface for easy hiking and allows for wonderful views of Milford Harbor. It also serves as a wildlife preserve for birds.
 

 
Gulf Beach

Directions:
Continue down Harborside Drive
At its end bear left onto Bedford Avenue
At the stop sign turn right onto Gulf Street
(the building in front of you is a historic home)
Follow Gulf Street until you reach the beach

 

 
Anchor Beach

Directions:
Continue along Gulf Street until you reach a small children's park on the right
Take your next right onto O'Dell Street
At the stop sign turn left onto Bayshore Drive
At the stop sign stay straight (becomes Melba Street)
Continue straight through the light
At the next light stay straight (becomes Edgefield Avenue)
At the next light you will notice Sloppy Jose's on the right
Continue straight onto Merwin Avenue
The road will split in front of the Beach House Restraunt
Bear to the right onto Abigail Street
At the stop sign take a right onto Mark Street
Take a left onto King's Highway
Take your first right onto Beach Avenue
Follow along the water
 

 
Anderson Avenue Beach
Directions:
Continue along Beach Avenue
Take your first right onto Beach Avenue
At the stop sign take a right and follow along Anderson Avenue Beach
 

 

To complete your tour of Milford and return to I95 follow the directions below:

At the end of Anderson Avenue Beach take a right onto Bonsilene Avenue
At the stop sign take a right onto New haven Avenue
At the first light turn left onto Anderson Avenue
Follow Anderson Avenue through two lights
Continue straight for about two to three miles
Interstate 95 will be in front of you at the third light