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COLT: LEGEND & LEGACY

LEFT TO DIE

THE MARK OF UNCAS

SCHEMITZUN!

USS NAUTILUS

CONNECTICUT

AS WE TELL OUR STORIES

BETWEEN BOSTON & NY

CONNECTICUT  & THE SEA

CRUSADERS & CRIMINALS

EAST OF THE RIVER

FROM HERE TO THERE

THE GREEN

THE NEW PEQUOT

SUBURBIA

MENHADEN DAYS

CRONKITE: One little- known historic state fishery is menhaden, a small industrial fish caught by the hundreds of thousands at a time in huge fishing net called purse seines.

Connecticut was a pioneer in the menhaden industry, which processed the fish into fertilizer and animal feed

From the mid-1800s to the 1930s, about 10 menhaden processing plants dotted the Connecticut shoreline from Stonington to Niantic.

Adm. Harold E. Shear (U.S. Navy Ret.1918-1999):  Menhaden is Menhaden but itís got a dozen different names. Bunkers in Long Island, Bony Fish in Connecticut, Poggies in Maine and Massachusetts, Fatbacks in Chesapeake.

CRONKITE: The family of the late Groton Long Point resident Admiral Harold E. Shear was in the menhaden business for more than a hundred years.

Adm. Harold E. Shear: A typical factory would be operating 8 to 10 steamers. Quite a few were built right here in Noank, a dozen or more.  All of these steamers had large crews.

MUSIC:  Forebitter, Luce Bros.

We were out from the factory on Long Island Sound,

From Greenport to Nepeg, and the promise land grounds.

On the good steamer Beatrice the pride of us all

Perseininí menhaden from spring till the fall.

Hall on the bunt boys and walkem on down,

Hall on the bunt boys and walk 'em around.

CRONKITE: The Connecticut-based menhaden industry flourished until its decline in the 1930s.

TWINE CAPITAL OF AMERICA

CRONKITE: The 18th and 19th Century maritime economy in Connecticut brought prosperity to both shoreline towns and areas farther inland.  One Connecticut River town that greatly prospered was East Haddam and its village of Moodus.

Bruce Sievers (Author, Mills Along the River): Moodus can actually be justifiably be nicknamed ďthe twine capital of AmericaĒ because Moodus initiated the development of ĺ of cotton twine and then later nylon twine.

In the 1820ís Ebenezer Nichols who was one of the founders of the industry here in town developed a machine that was able to twist strands of cotton into a seine twine.  And thatís what produces a hard laid cord which was used in the maritime industry.

The mills in Moodus existed basically because of the maritime industry and the maritime industry created a great demand for cotton duct which was used as sail cloth which was manufactured in many of the mills here in Moodus. They also had a great need for ĺ for cordage, for rope and twine on the ship, which was made here in Moodus. 

Each of the 12 mills located along the banks of the Moodus River employed anywhere from 25 to 50 people depending on the size of the mill. 

The mill owners sold their twine to the fishermen or they sold twine to other companies that would then take the twine and make it into fish netting.  Most of the netting that was used in the United States.

ED STOLARZ (President, Cofish International): Back in the 1880ís , 1890ís, 1900ís we were the big town,  Moodus and East Haddam. Wilbur Square, invented the Yankee gill net machine in 1872 in the cow pasture across the street.  It revolutionized the fish netting industry.

The normal netting, the knots ran this way which were very, very bulky and with the Yankee gill net the knots ran this way so that they could get behind the gills much easier.  And not only that the machine could tie 3,000 knots per minute. There was no other machine on Earth that could duplicate that.

I turned off my machines April 1st, 1979.  I was working 7 days a week and losing money at it. I was one of the last makers of gill netting in the United States. 

BUILDING WITH BROWNSTONE

CRONKITE: Another inland town that prospered through access to the sea was Portland and its brownstone quarry industry.

ALISON GUINNESS (Curator, CT River Museum): Quarrying began in the late 1600ís when the first settlers arrived in the Middletown settlement area.  Because of the proximity of the river to the sea they were able to develop a commercial industry that involved many distant locations.  It was easy to get the stone there by water. 

The stone was loaded onto scows, barges, schooners, taken down the river and then shipped out to other locations along the east coast.  By 1850 there were three major companies and these three companies employed about 1,500 men during peak operations between1850 and 1890 and those men were primarily Immigrants. 

The stone was used for buildings: churches, row houses, mansions, all sorts of buildings.

By the 1880ís most of the stone used in building in New York City came from Portland and approximately 10 million cubic yards of stone had been quarried at that site. 

Towards the end of the 1800ís brownstone gradually went out of use.

 


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Last modified: September 03, 2012