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Around Essex Elephants and River Gods


by Robbi Storms (Author), Don Malcarne (Author)

Three hundred years of history follows you around today as you wander the streets of Essex, Centerbrook, and Ivoryton. Essex harbor is located on the Connecticut River six miles north of Long Island Sound, between Mystic Seaport and New Haven. It is a major stopping point for boaters in the Northeast who come from various ports to dock in the harbor, dine at the Griswold Inn, take in the maritime history at the Connecticut River Museum, or walk along the narrow streets to view the fine old houses in this New England community. Homes once owned by sea captains, shipbuilders, and captains of industry are a reminder of the area's glorious past. True, the old 1,200-foot Ropewalk, a mainstay of maritime manufacturing, was gone by 1900. Gone also are the Uriah Hayden Chandlery, Judea Pratt's New City Smithy, and Abner Parker's warehouse. The harbor where working vessels once ruled is now a vibrant waterfront filled with pleasure boats. A row of elegant Victorian houses lines the main street of Ivoryton village, where only a century ago lived executives from Comstock, Cheney & Company, the once great ivory and piano action factory. Enough of the past remains to remind us of the industry that thrived along these riverbanks.