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THE NORWICH TO HARTFORD TURNPIKE, 1795-1834
    by Edmund N. Leete

 Note: The late Mr. Edmund N. Leetewrote a book on Connecticut turnpikes titled The Road Taken: Turnpikes of Eastern Connecticut 1792-1888, and his estate has graciously permitted us to include material from his chapter on the Norwich to Hartford Turnpike. Because of the chapter’s length, it has been condensed for this article and includes only the sites of the milestones from Norwich through Lebanon located by the author. Future publication of the book is anticipated.

This article was previously printed in the Winter 2012 edition of “Provisions,” Newsletter for the Lebanon Historical Society which is located in Lebanon, Connecticut.

   Granted its charter in October 1795 the Hartford, New London, Windham and Tolland County Turnpike Society was authorized to construct its turnpike from the courthouse in Hartford to the courthouse in Norwich. Due to the resistance of East Hartford and the realization that maintaining a ferry across the Connecticut River would be more than the Society could undertake, a

Mile Map

modification to the original charter was sought and granted at the May 1796 legislative session. The new route was from White's Monument in Bolton to Joshua Hyde's house in Franklin. Hyde was a tavern keeper and no one in Bolton today knows the location of White's Monument. Two tollhouses were authorized, but in several years of searching we have not uncovered their locations.

Mile Post

   Hyde's Tavern no longer stands; the site is presently occupied by a truck dealership. The original road in this area has been completely altered and the beginning of the turnpike is called Sodom Road today. The bridge over the Yantic River in Norwich below the tavern no longer stands. It was bypassed in the 1960s with the building of the Routes 2 and 32 connector. Route 32 parallels Sodom Road and cuts through a rock outcropping that the colonial and turnpike era road went over. The road from Norwichtown green to Hyde's was maintained by the town and has two milestones on it. Milestone 1 is on the left in front of a stone wall; milestone 2 is in the village of Yantic on a portion of bypassed turnpike that leads to the former bridge site over the Yantic River. It is on the right in front of the old firehouse in a metal frame to hold the pieces together. Milestone 2 is an original as are 4, 18, 19, and 23 on the nearly 27 mile-long turnpike.

Mile Post Mile Post

  All milestones read the number on top with the letter M to the right and the letters NTH below. NTH standsfor Norwich Town House from which the distances were measured.
At the west end of Sodom Road the turnpike crossed modern Route 32 to the present Route 87, which straightened out the more winding turnpike road. Milestone 3 is on the left just beyond the Bozrah town line sign. Milestone 4 is on the right to the left of a driveway and is set back on the edge of a bypassed section of turnpike. Milestone 5 is on Old Route 87, on the left on a little green formed by a fork in the road.

   Returning to Route 87, milestone 6 is on the left in front of a low stone wall and milestone 7 is also on the left just beyond the Lebanon town line. Milestone 8 sits between two trees in front of a manmade embankment. Number 9 is behind the guardrails on the northwest corner of Goshen Hill Road and Route 87.

   Milestone 10 is on the green beyond the Jonathan Trumbull Junior House Museum. Milestone 11 is on the left in a flowerbed in front of a house. Milestone 12 is also on the front lawn of a house. Milestone 13 is opposite the intersection with Cook Hill Road.

Mile Stone

Mile Post

   The turnpike continued through Columbia, Andover and Bolton, where it ended on Hillcrest Road, which was part of the 1797 Boston Turnpike. The Norwich to Hartford turnpike apparently went out of business in 1834 as that part of the turnpike from Route 6 and Merritt Valley Road in Andover to the Boston Turnpike in Bolton was taken over by the 1835 Hop River Turnpike.
© 2012 Edmund N. Leete All rights reserved

Thanks to Glenn Pianka and Grace Sayles for help with this article and to Lebanon Historical Society for permission to reprint from their newsletter.


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