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Connecticut’s National Parks Provide Glimpse Into the Past

The early story of colonial America cannot be written without Connecticut. The state boasts a history as far-reaching and influential as any of the early North American settlements. 

Named for an anglicized version of the Native American word for the river that bisects the state, “Quononoquett” (meaning “long tidal river”), Connecticut was first settled by the Dutch in the early 17th century in a short-lived hamlet of Fort Hoop. 

Soon after, sometime in the 1630s, the first long-lasting settlements were established by the English, led by Thomas Hooker. He migrated with a band of followers from the Massachusetts Bay Colony to found the Connecticut Colony. 

In 1662, the colony joined the New Haven and Saybrook colonies under a royal charter, and Connecticut became an official crown colony.

Photo Courtesy NPS

Just over 100 years later, Connecticut would be one of the 13 original colonies to reject English rule and break away from the crown to form the United States of America.

Connecticut is as deeply woven into the broad tapestry of America as George Washington and apple pie. “Yankee Doodle Dandy” is even the state song!

But, there is much more than meets the eye in the Nutmeg State. Stop in at these must-see attractions when passing through the gateway to New England:

Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail: The story of Connecticut is indeed the story of early America and its struggle to be free of English rule. This history is exemplified perfectly in this national historic trail that runs through the state. Following an already difficult and brutal few years of fighting, the Continental Army had spent a bleak and seemingly hopeless winter of 1780 garrisoned around Morristown, NJ, while the great British General Charles Cornwallis was wreaking havoc in the southern colonies. General George Washington described the situation as putting the army “at the end of (their) tether.” It was now or never for the burgeoning new country. Enter General Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau of France, whose troops arrived none too soon. This alliance and the route, which started from these hard-won early days of 1781, would lead to Yorktown and victory. The trail preserves every step of the way — one every American (and Frenchman!) should visit.

Photo Courtesy NPS

Weir Farm National Historical Park:

A different kind of history awaits visitors to this pastoral area of the Constitution State. Visit the home of one of America’s greatest painters — perhaps its most beloved impressionist — J. Alden Weir. Set against a backdrop of picturesque valleys, fields, woods, and waterways, Weir referred to the farm as the “Great Good Place.”

Walk amongst the gallery in one of the exhibits, take a guided tour, or simply explore the grounds and breathe in the inspiration that has been the genesis of some of the country’s most adored and celebrated artwork. Visitors are welcome to bring family and let them create their creative magic on these magical grounds. This stop is a can’t-miss national historic site in the heart of southern New England!

Photo Courtesy NPS

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