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Haddam Island

Historical Tidbit: Haddam Island

Written by Elizabeth Malloy, Executive Director, Haddam Historical Society.

Haddam Island State Park: Located in the center of the Connecticut River between Haddam Neck and Haddam, this 14 acre state park was originally known as Thirty Mile Island. Tradition asserts that the original name was derived by early settlers who mistakenly thought that the island was 30 miles from the mouth of the Connecticut River at Saybrook, although an article by local author Ruby Zagoren states that it was the Native Americans who named it. The original name of the settlement of Haddam/East Haddam was known as Thirty Mile Island Plantation. When the Native Americans sold the land to the English in May of 1662 they reserved certain areas for their use including the island and 40 acres at Pattaquonk (now Chester).

haddam islandBy the end of the 18th century much of the island had been purchased by local Haddam residents from the descendants of the Native Americans. For many decades the island was one of the most valuable fishing stations on the river. In the 19th century two successful fishing companies operated from the island, one on the northern end and one on the southern end. Piers were constructed by sinking large amounts of stone which were brought across the river in the winter by oxen and piled on the ice. The island was also used for grazing cattle and growing corn.

Legend has it that some of Captain Kidd’s treasure was buried on the island, although nothing has been found. The Island was used for many public and private events including fish fries and camping trips by the American Canoe Association. In the early 20th century many families would picnic here and on weekends young people of town would attend dances. It was such a popular place that a refreshment stand was open here for some time.

In 1944 the State of Connecticut purchased the island and it became Haddam Island State Park and is only accessible by water.

Photo taken from Haddam Neck. Date unknown.

The mission of the Haddam Historical Society is to preserve, collect, interpret and promote the history and heritage of Haddam for present and future generations.