(on Route 154 in the Town of Haddam unless otherwise noted)
These selected features along Route 154 can be found, in order, by traveling south on Route 9 and then leaving Route 9 at exit 10 (Aircraft Road) and turning right (south) at the end of the ramp at the light on to Route 154. If you are traveling from the Connecticut shoreline go north on Route 9 and take exit 7 (Route 82). The access road will end at Route 154. Turn left (north) on Route 154 and look for the selected features, in reverse order, from the bottom of the list to the top.
The information on this page was taken from a brochure developed by the Haddam Conservation Commission which was funded by the Federal Highway Administration through an ISTEA grant, with assistance from Midstate Regional Planning Agency. Most historical information is from "Portrait of a River Town", By Janice P. Cunningham and Elizabeth A. Warner. Some additional landmarks and comments added by the coordinator took these photographs 12 and 13 May 2005.
Bible Rock - North of the "Scenic Road" sign, about 100-150 feet off the road, this 8 foot high rock is split and looks like an open book. It is located on land owned by the state and marks the boundary line between Haddam and Middletown. You'll only see it when the leaves are off the trees. NOTE: Since the leaves were on the trees, I could not spot Bible Rock. I did, however, check the topographic map of the area, and it indicates that Bible Rock is about 2/3 of a mile west-southwest of Route 154 at the town line, and on the other side of Route 9. This link will take you to that map (Bible Rock is in the lower center of this view).
Mattabesset Trail - Mattabesset is the Indian name for Middletown, which is where this 12 mile-long, eastern division of the trail leads. Part of the "Blue Blazed Trail" system, it is managed by the Connecticut Forest & Park Association in Middletown. Access to the trail from Route 154 is on the east side of the road, just north of the Haddam-Middletown border, and is indicated by the tree in the foreground.
Scenic Road Sign - Opposite the roadside picnic spot, on the west side of Route 154 at the town line.
Seven Falls - This roadside picnic spot was the first rest area in the state and particularly popular when the road served as the main route to the shoreline. Its name comes from a series of small cascades in Bible Rock Brook, which flows nearby.
Bible Rock Brook - This stream runs alongside Route 154 and joins two others (Candlewood Brook and Ponset Brook) in the center of Higganum. Together, they provided water power for early Higganum industries. This view is taken from the east side of Route 154, just north of the roadside picnic area.
Shopboard Rock - Technically a "glacial erratic," it is believed to be the largest free-standing boulder in southern New England, 65 feet high and 75 feet wide. Brought here by glaciers and mentioned in Haddam land records as early as 1711, it is most easily seen when the leaves are off the trees.
Maynard's Shad Shack - Nestled between two modern buildings, this ca. 1925 building was originally located across the road. Shad, a fish migrating to the Connecticut River each spring, is a southern New England delicacy and was sold here seasonally until about 1960. In it's latest incarnation, as the Haddam Shad Museum, it is located on the east side of Route 154.
Higgies - An old time, roadside drive-in, this eatery opened about 1945, when summer drivers clogged the road on their way to and from Connecticut's shoreline. Burgers and fries ... and I can personally vouch for their soft ice cream.
Higganum United Methodist Church - A late Greek Revival style building which dates from 1862, its triangular pediment is reminiscent of a classical temple. Methodist circuit riders traveled through Haddam as early as the 1780s. Don't miss the fine copper beech tree in front.
Thomas J. Clark House - This Victorian Italianate, with its gently sloping hipped roof and wide eaves, was built about 1875. One of the most ornate buildings in Haddam, it belonged to an owner of the Higganum Manufacturing Company (later called Cutaway Harrow), an important manufacturer of farm machinery in town.
Scovil Company Mill No. 4 - These two brick buildings on Candlewood Hill Road were constructed in 1866-67. One of them originally served as a feldspar mill, using water power supplied by Candlewood Brook. Both are currently used as State DOT garages.
Higganum Green - The north end of the green is the site of the Higganum District Union School, built in 1894 and razed in 1945. Still used for Memorial Day ceremonies, the green is a gathering place for town activities.
Higganum Grange - Still home to the Grange, this building was build in 1891 with a decorative false front. The first level is now home to the Country Market, a commercial "fixture" in Higganum.
Higganum Feed Store - Built about 1880 in a period of thriving productivity, this store has supplied agricultural goods for over 100 years. The right-hand portion of the building originally stood at the stream's edge. It was moved and attached to the original store.
John Brainerd House - This post-and-beam house is the earliest house remaining in Higganum Center and was built ca. 1776. It is also significant because of its connection to the Brainerd family, early settlers of Haddam (private residence; see "Portrait of a River Town," #B27, pages 134-135).
Higganum Congregational Church - The formation of this church established Higganum as a separate community, spurred in part by the long distance to the church in Haddam Center. Built in 1845 with a low-pitch gabled roof and columns to create a temple-like effect, this is a fine example of a vernacular Greek Revival style meeting house.
Higganum House Hotel - Built by a retired sea captain in 1868, this late Greek Revival style building recalls the vitality of Higganum and the road's use as a major route to the shoreline. The hotel closed in the 1930's (private residence; see "Portrait of a River Town," #B19, pages 126-127).
The Higganum Dike - A geological feature formed about 200 million years ago when a deep split occurred in the earth's crust and was filled by hot material from the earth's core. The dike runs in a line roughly towards New Haven, and was exposed here when the rock was cut back for the road you now travel.
St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church - This interesting interpretation of the Carpenter Gothic style combines the fanciful ornamentation of Gothic and Islamic Revivals in the shape of the arches in the tower. It was built in 1887 to serve the Irish and Italian immigrants who came to work in the factories (private residence; see "Portrait of a River Town," #B3, pages 110-111).
Haddam Meadows Park - This 175-acre park was given to the State of Connecticut by the Hazen family when it was no longer needed for pasture land. A public boat launch is located at the south end of the park, and it is a great birding area. The bottom view is of Haddam Island from the West shore of the Connecticut River. Haddam Neck is in the background.
Hazenhurst Farm Cow Barn - Built in the early 1900's, this is one of the few remnants of Haddam's agricultural past. This double barn sheltered the Hazen's cows that crossed under the road in a tunnel (now filled in) to reach their pasture by the river. The barn is located on the west side of Route 154, just South of the entrance to Haddam Meadow Park.
Haddam Green - The center of Haddam, this triangular green was the site of an original 1786 Middlesex County courthouse and jail, rebuilt in 1829. It is interesting to note that the low stone wall around the green is constructed of local granite from the building, which burned in 1929.
Thirty Mile Island Cemetery - Organized in 1667, this is the oldest burying ground in Haddam. Stones date back to 1711, but it is likely that there are earlier graves without markers. Early settlements did not often include stone carvers, and cut stones were costly.
Thankful Arnold House - Built in 1794 with additions completed by 1810, this building is home of the Haddam Historical Society and is open seasonally (or by appointment) for tours. The Arnold family was involved in quarrying operations in the mid-1800's.
Entrance to Field Park - Dedicated in 1878 to the Reverend and Mrs. David Dudley Field by their four sons, this park was given to the people of Haddam as a place to enjoy. Dr. Field was graduated at Yale College and was the minister of the Haddam Congregational Church and later of the Higganum Congregational Church. He also wrote early histories of Haddam and East Haddam and of Middlesex County, and the first published genealogy of the Brainerd family. The park is on the West side of Route 154, tucked in behind the Haddam Congregational Church.
Brainerd Academy - Built in 1839, this imposing Greek Revival style stone building is set back from the road, up the hill. Students were mostly from New England, but several came from other countries as far away as Ceylon. The school closed in the 1890's, and the building later served as the Town Hall and Masonic Lodge. Alterations included the removal of a third story and a bell tower. This building is also tucked in behind the Haddam Congregational Church.
Haddam Congregational Church - This building is a replica of an earlier one built in 1847, shortly after the congregation split into Haddam and Higganum contingents. The original burned in 1979 and was duplicated in exactly two years. NOTE: When I was there, roofers were working on the other side of the building. Normally, the view from the other side is better due to the relative absence of trees on that side.
Brainerd Memorial Library - This Beaux Arts/Colonial Revival style building was erected in 1908 with a generous gift from Cyprian Strong Brainerd, a New York lawyer born in Haddam Neck. Designed by McLean & Wright of Boston, it is one of the few early buildings in Haddam known to have been designed by an architect. The local history and genealogy collection is very nice for such a small-town facility.
First District Schoolhouse - Built in 1866, this is one of six surviving district schoolhouses in Haddam, no longer needed when the Haddam Elementary School was completed in 1945. The building is now used as a senior center.
Jeremiah Hobart House - Built by the town in 1691 for the first minister, this is the oldest house on scenic Route 154. It was enlarged in 1790 and in 1959. Notice the "Tory chimney" - painted the same color as the house (private residence; see "Portrait of a River Town," #A19, pages 82-83).
Haddam Jail - When Haddam became a "half-shire" town, it was required to build a courthouse and a jail. This imposing structure was built in 1845, enlarged in 1855. It is constructed of granite from a Shailerville quarry; its load-bearing walls are 15 inches to 24 inches thick.
Historical Marker - Haddam's first meeting house (church) stood on this site from 1674 to 1721. In 1721, Haddam had 62 heads-of-household listed on the tax rolls. The marker is set into a rock between two shrubs, nearly hidden.
Haddam Center Cemetery - This burying ground was formally incorporated in 1867 and still is being used today. It is also known as Greenwood Cemetery.
Middlesex Turnpike Mile Marker - This replacement marker notes the distance to Hartford: 25 miles. This was quite a distance in the days of horse and carriage, dirt roads and no drive-ins or rest areas. Marker is on the East side of Route 154, just South of the Town & Country Nursery.
Mill Creek-Connecticut Valley Railroad Bridge - The creek is named for a grist mill built along this stream about 1706. This handsome bridge, built about 1870, appeared in the 1958 Doris Day movie "It Happened to Jane". In the late 1800's, there were four railroad stations in Haddam.
Spencer's Shad Shack - Shad has been sold at this Connecticut landmark since 1930. The establishment is still open on a seasonal basis in the early summer, and is the state's only remaining shad shack. A true Haddam tradition. NOTE: After having stopped to photograph this building, it's not at all apparent that it's still in operation. I'd appreciate any feedback on that subject.
Smith Ventres House - One of many old houses in this section, this 1830 Cape-type building has an interesting relationship to the road. The front door of the residence faces what must have been a side lane, while the lower level store entrance fronts on the main road (private residence; see "Portrait of a River Town," #C3, pages 214-215).
Old Baptist Church - This Greek Revival style building constructed about 1833 replaced an earlier church located across the street. The stylish and elegant structure suggests the prosperity of Shailerville, a tight-knit community(private residence; see "Portrait of a River Town," #C25, pages 234-235).
Pilot House - Opened in 1945, this landmark is named (and configured) after a ship pilot's house. It recalls the days of hot rods and Elvis, and is known for its homemade relish. Stop in and try it. They generally open for the season around the first of May.
Middlesex Turnpike Mile Marker - It's the real thing. Hidden in the underbrush, this worn, but original brownstone marker still reads "27 Hartford."
Shailerville-Tylerville Cemetery - Founded in 1759 and enlarged in 1897, this cemetery includes some ornate marble monuments and old headstones. The cemetery is located on the East side of Route 154, at its intersection with Camp Bethel Road.
Simon Tyler, Jr. House - This house was built about 1800 by a sea captain. Framed with posts and beams around a center chimney, it has Federal-period details, notably the doorway. It was expanded for business use in the early 1990's. (see "Portrait of a River Town," #C313, pages 241-241).
David Tyler House - Built ca. 1809 by the brother of Simon Tyler Jr. (who owned the house across the road), the main structure is also a center chimney post and beam house. It has many Federal-period elements, including the doorway with an upper fanlight window. The building has been expanded for commercial use (see "Portrait of a River Town," #C30, pages 238-239).
Daniel Tyler Barn (Route 82) - This barn was used by the original owners of the house on the other corner of the shopping center. Route 82, also known as Bridge Road, leads to the well known Swing Bridge across the Connecticut River to East Haddam.
Daniel Tyler House - This house was built by a brother of Simon and David Tyler (whose houses are nearby) soon after the Middlesex Turnpike opened in 1804. It is one of the few three-bay Federal houses built in Haddam; most are full five-bay structures. Although incorporated into a modern shopping center, it has retained much of its architectural integrity (see "Portrait of a River Town," #C45, pages 254-255).
Freshwater Tidal Marsh - One of many along the river, this marsh supports a great variety of plant and animal species, and is an important nursery area for fish.
Roaring Brook/Clark Creek - Don't miss this serene waterfall, flowing over layers of flat stone. It is most easily seen in the winter and spring.
View of Connecticut River and Swing Bridge (Scenic Road Sign) - This scenic view of the Swing Bridge (completed in 1913), the Goodspeed Opera House, and the Connecticut River is one of Connecticut's best. It is most easily seen while driving north; please exercise caution as there is not safe pull-off area. These views, of the Goodspeed Opera House, the Gelston House, and the Route 82 Swing Bridge were taken from the grounds of the Goodspeed Opera House, on the East Haddam side of the Connecticut River.