The August monthly Shoreline Greenway Trail “FIRST SATURDAY WALK” was held in Guilford, at 9am on August 7th at the East River Preserve. Over thirty walkers started the day at the Sullivan Drive trailhead with Joel Helander, our Town Historian, who shared many interesting stories about this 583 acres of tidal wetlands, farm fields and upland forest land intersected by the East River, sold by Indians to Guilford’s founders in 1639.
The land was soon used for travel by pack horses and farmers with livestock, travelling along a route going east along Bearhouse Hill Road and across an old log bridge, Foote’s bridge, until 1703 when a new bridge was constructed farther south and eventually used by stagecoaches, the “new” Post Road.
Settlers farmed the land, and used it for timber. During the Revolutionary war, General Ward built his homestead by the bridge, where his granddaughter, with 10 of her own children, brought her 5-year old orphaned niece, Harriet Beecher Stowe, eventually well known as the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, to live with her. Emily wrote that her “hours spent at Nutplains were the golden hours of my life”. Well-known impressionist artist Charles Hubbard painted there.
Some highlights found in the Preserve are the bear cave, a cranberry bog, and remnants of the Parmalee Saw Mill, as well as the private family cemetery for the General Ward and Foote families.
Our walk at a fast pace on a warm day was led by Shoreline Greenway Trail leader Brad Kronstat, and “swept” by volunteers Bruce Simonds and Judy Miller. We didn’t lose anyone, in spite of the heat!! We hiked through woods, along the power line’s sunny hillside, more woods and along the old dirt road lined with crumbling stone walls, and back across the beautiful meadow to the trailhead. An enjoyable day for all.
We do apologize to the several walkers who came for a 10am start, a regrettable mistake in some of the advertising that we have corrected for future 1st Saturdays. Be sure to check our website, or sign up to receive email announcements of our events in each of our four shoreline towns – in Guilford, and on our SGT trail sections in Madison, Branford and East Haven.