We spent a day in Hartford, the capital of Connecticut. It is a very old city, having been established by the English in 1635. The city has been nicknamed the “Insurance Capital of the World” as many insurance headquarters were located here. That has changed some over the years as insurance is still a major employer but some companies have gone elsewhere. It was once the home of Samuel Colt firearms, one of the most important gun companies in America. Our goal for the day in Hartford was to see the capitol building and visit the home of a famous author. Above is a photo of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch. It was completed in 1886 to remember the 4,000 Hartford soldiers who fought in the Civil War as well as the 400 who died. It is considered the first permanent triumphal arch built in America.
The Connecticut Capitol building is the most castle like capitol I have seen in my travels. During my visit here I felt I was visiting a European country. Completed in 1878, it is perhaps the grandest capitol building I have seen during my travels. The inside seemed to have a different flavor with a Moroccan or Middle Eastern look.
One of the more interesting artifacts in the building is a drinking fountain built to provide water for the legislators’ horses. Unfortunately, the horses were not allowed in the building to get a drink, (that would have been a kick to see), but had to wait outside until their owners filled jugs of water and brought them outside to give them.
I joined a tour with a group of high school students from Spain. We visited much of the building with an enthusiastic docent including seeing where the Senate and House meet.
Hartford has the historic home of one of America’s most famous authors -Samuel Clemens also known as Mark Twain. Twain lived here with his wife and three daughters from the time it was completed in 1874 until 1891. The house was paid for from his wife’s inheritance and cost a huge sum at the time of $40,000. He wrote his most famous works here including “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” The story of Huck is considered his most famous. I realized that I had never read this book so I got it on my kindle after our visit. What a great read it was – I thought it was so clever and funny, especially toward the end.
The home was a delight to tour and the guide one of the best I have had in my travels. No photos are allowed inside and the home has some original Twain furnishings and artifacts. It had the latest in modern conveniences including being lit by gaslight, seven bathrooms, hot and cold running water, flush toilets, a burglar system run on batteries and a telephone in the kitchen.
Twain is known for his many quotations. He loved Hartford and is quoted as saying: “Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see, this is the chief. You do not know what beauty is if you have not been here.” This is high praise as Twain before moving to Hartford had done a lot of traveling in America and abroad.
Our camping site for the week we spent in Connecticut was located in a wooded and rural southeastern part of the state. Mark and I found the roads here to be particularly narrow and winding, not quite wide enough for our truck. Mark joked if someone left their mailbox open on the side of the road he would hit it as we passed by. Then there were the frequent signs along the roads – “Beware, hidden driveway,” “Dangerous intersection,” that kept us on our toes each time we ventured away from our campground.
I loved the river at our campground. The flow of water varied throughout our stay. When we first got there so many big rocks were visible in the river bed that you could almost walk across to the other side. After we got a steady downpour for a day and night the rocks were all covered as the river had risen and it was roaring with water. The Quinebaug River was a beautiful place to sit and ponder nature.
Thanks for stopping in! I hope you enjoyed more of our exploring in Connecticut. In the next blog, a trip up the highest mountain in New Hampshire.