Think of any major theme in the development of Connecticut and chances are good that if it’s not on the shoreline, it unfolded along Route 44. And it’s still happening.
Way back in 1635, when settlers were just arriving along the Connecticut River, Salisbury was the site of an Indian village and Route 44 was a trail leading along the Blackberry River toward Hartford. A century later, Connecticut craftsmen forged cannons for the Revolutionary War in Salisbury and heroes named Hale and Knowlton gave their lives for American Independence, trekking to battle along roads that became Route 44. The state’s land grant university, the modern aerospace industry, the nation’s first suburban tract and central Connecticut’s main urban center all grew up on or near the highway.
It is the roadway that passes some of the most opulent wealth and deepest poverty. Today we’re debating a baseball stadium in downtown Hartford – yup, right along Route 44. And out in Putnam, a historic mill town is remaking itself as a center for arts and culture.
Among the roads that cross the state, Route 44 – from Salisbury to downtown Hartford and out to Putnam – best tells the story of Connecticut’s diversity, heritage and changing landscape. Follow Columnist Dan Haar as he walks every inch of the highway in July as part of The Courant’s 250th birthday, bringing to life the characters and the landscape.
If you live or work along the road and have a story to tell about a landmark, an issue or a piece of history to share, email Dan at email@example.com. Be sure to put “ROUTE 44” in the subject line. You may also choose to leave a comment at the bottom of this page.
And starting July 7, look for Dan on his quest for the story of Route 44, walking along the side of the road in a red “Courant 250th Anniversary” hat. He won’t take a ride but he’d love to talk with you.