The Stage Coach Road
from Hartford to Litchfield

Harford, being 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 of yesteryears.

Sources
The White Pine Series - Vol IX Num 5