The Stage Coach Road
from Hartford to Litchfield
the first settlement in colonial Connecticut was actually
an outpost of the Massachusetts colony established to
keep out the Dutch from New Amsterdam who had claimed
this fertile Connecticut river valley for their own.
Hartford, established only 16 years after the Mayflower
landed at Plymouth, became a metropolis of sorts and
roads went in all directions to the farming country
around it. As the little settlements grew, stage coach
lines were established to accommodate the growing traffic.
Of these "little
settlements" Litchfield became one of the wealthiest
yet its hard to identify why it prospered so well as
it's location is at the top of a steep hill and incorporates
a rough countryside that prevented it from becoming
a very productive farming region.
So the early stage
lines had one that ran from Hartford to Litchfield.
It ran over the level areas into Farmington, a beautiful
town settled in 1640, and crossed the river then up
the valley into Unionville. Crossing the river again,
it climbed the steep hill into Burlington. Next it passed
through Harwinton and into East Litchfield, crossing
the Naugatuck river and finally climbing into Litchfield.
The exact date the
line started operating is not certain but seems to be
prior to 1755 and ran until 1870 when the railroad won
out over horse drawn travel.
Most of these early
stages were sold off at auction and it is rumored that
one ended up in Deadwood, Montana and may have provided
travel service to Buffalo Bill.
Most of the old
stage coach roads, also known as post roads, have long
since been improved beyond recognition, but the line
from Hartford to Litchfield is still pretty much the
same route as it is today.
What wonderful stories
the old homes along the route, many of which are still
standing today, could tell us about the grand old days
The White Pine Series - Vol IX Num 5