Tourist Tuesday: Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop/East Rock Park

Tourist Tuesday: Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop/East Rock Park

Lewis is the pastor of a congregation in Connecticut, so we often have the opportunity to head out of the city and see some sights in our neighboring state. On Sunday we had the chance to meet up with a friend for a picnic lunch just outside of New Haven. We picked up Chipotle because it’s almost always delicious (it was this time too) and met up at the Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop in East Rock Park.

It seemed like the museum was closed so we sat at the picnic tables and enjoyed the beautiful weather and a great view of the waterfalls behind us.

The area is an historic site known as Whitneyville, with Eli Whitney Sr. coming to the area in 1798 to use the water’s power to run machinery. In part, the dam’s size and the natural limits of the water power, the site, and settlement remained relatively small and prevented further industrial development. In 1860 Eli Whitney, Jr. turned the river into the first public water supply for the city of New Haven, it still supplies water to the town to this day.

After our lovely lunch, we crossed the covered bridge into the park for a short hike. The original bridge was designed by Ithiel Town in 1820 and was an innovation in strength, simplicity, and economy. Unfortunately, the bridge was destroyed in a flood around the turn of the century. In 1979 students from the Eli Whitney Vocational-Technical High School reconstructed the bridge from Town’s design, though with some abutments from an earlier factory bridge, giving it some additional supports.

Thankfully, the museum was actually open because we needed a bathroom break before heading home. We didn’t have time to tour the museum, but it smelled wonderfully like fresh-cut wood. The museum is, essentially, a workshop where things are collected, studied, experimented on, and built creating a unique learning experience.

This would be a fantastic place to bring the kiddos for an educational and fun afternoon.

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