Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Bent of the River- A Connecticut Treasure #SouthburyCT #bentoftheriver

After a concert in downtown New Haven Saturday night, we were lucky to be invited to spend the night at Bent of the River before heading to Kingston NY for another concert on Sunday night.

This treasure in south western Connecticut deserves a visit if you are in the area.
Our hostess served up a hearty breakfast then took us on a tour of some of the property. The flowering trees were amazing and being buzzed by hundreds of bees. The wildflowers along the well maintained paths were open and easy to find. But it was the birds that attracted us and many other visitors. What a special place this is. We saw elders and youngsters and whole families meandering around the paths looking up and stopping to listen to the bird calls.

The terrain is quite varied: river, riverbeds, vernal pools, meadows, fields, hills. So the chances of seeing A LOT of birds is great.

I saw little children keeping track of the birds they spotted and whole families stopping to identify bird calls. The area has been important for centuries and now serves a a refuge for many species being pushed out by the growing human populations in the area.

History from their website:
Audubon is only the third owner of the Bent of the River property since European settlement. Native Americans had lived in the area and elsewhere in New England for thousands of years. Some artifacts found near the Bent and on display in the Barn are estimated at 3,000 years. By the mid-eighteenth century, European diseases, such as smallpox and measles, had largely decimated the local tribe, the Pootatucks who had little resistance against these foreign pestilences.
In 1753, Eleazar Mitchell bought the "south purchase" from the Pootatucks. This was the last remaining native land in Southbury. He built his homestead at what is now the corner of South Flat Hill and Brennan Roads. The property is currently owned by the Southbury Land Trust. The last Pootatuck sachem, Manquash, died in 1755 and the few remaining Pootatucks moved to Kent to join the Schatacokes. Eleazar Mitchell's grandson, Amos, built the brick house, now called the Clark House. It is Federalist in style and has an estimated date of 1820-1840. Sometime, shortly after the Civil War, Amos Mitchell built the big Barn that now houses Center offices. Members of the Mitchell family still farm in Southbury near the Shepaug Dam on the Housatonic.

In 1933, the heirs of William E. Mitchell sold the Bent of the River farm to a young, wealthy couple, Althea and Howard Clark. The Clarks bought 350 acres including the brick house, the barn, and four farm-hand houses for $15,000. They then put $33,000 (probably about $1,000,000 today) into completely renovating the house. The Clarks kept horses, a few cows, and sheep. The buggies and sleighs on view in the barn were driven by the Clarks around the land and elsewhere in Southbury. Mrs. Clark was involved with girl scouts and, as she grew older, increasingly concerned about land conservation. Mr. Clark, who was an author, died in 1987, Mrs. Clark in December, 1992.
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More images from our nature walk: http://photosbynanci.smugmug.com/Bent-of-the-River