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Urban Archeologist: A Love Story from CL&P

Before there was an Alfred, before there was an Irene, and long before the tornado of 2011, CL&P wrote us a love story…

I am very lucky to live in a part of the country that is steeped in its own history. The towns around me are 200-300 years old or more. I don’t live in an old neighborhood, but I only need to walk five minutes before reading a plaque on a home from the 18th Century. When I look for sales, there’s always the chance I might get to buy a historic piece of this community.

Earlier this year, I did just that.

New Milford was the direction I had chosen that Saturday in June, sometimes I just go on a hunch and hope for the best. Other times I pick a sale out of the listings and just head toward it tripping over other sales along the way. That day, off Route 202, I found an estate sale with two floors and several rooms to explore.

When visiting an estate sale it is important not to skip the "jewelry case." This is the area by the checkout where the expensive items are closely guarded from sticky fingers. The items there are not always over priced, some are just too delicate or small to leave on a shelf somewhere.

The stand-out item this day was "The Romance of the Rocky River," a thin and narrow booklet from 1927 whose pages contain the hopes, dreams and plans of Connecticut Light and Power (CL&P) to transform the valley carved from the Rocky river in to an electric power project.

Today you can visit the result of that project in any one of the five towns that surround Candlewood Lake, however, in the 1920s, it was a massive undertaking and took many years to plan and complete. In the process it would displace farms and families and established roads.

I can only guess that this booklet was possibly a clever little piece of marketing meant to ease the pain felt in the communities surrounding the Rocky River. It was truly an interesting find.

What’s more interesting is the comparison between the CL&P of 1927 with the CL&P of today — a company expanding quickly throughout the state with goals to satisfy stockholders, energy-hungry homes and industry alike. It seems the ubiquity of electricity and the sereneness of Connecticut has always made strange bedfellows.

Do you know an interesting fact about the history of Candlewood Lake? Please share it in the comments.

Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good "dig" or a good story. You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.

Anonymous December 01, 2011 at 02:29 PM
So, given the outright mass hatred for CL&P right now, how much were you paid to write this drivel?
Jaimie Cura December 01, 2011 at 03:40 PM
Very interesting find, Greg - thanks for sharing. I enjoy reading about your treasure hunts!
Kathie Loehr December 01, 2011 at 05:45 PM
That booklet probably was a PR piece. After all, they had to convince the general public that the idea of giving up their homes, their farms and their villages was a good one. I would imagine CL&P did the same thing when they built the Stevenson Dam. And don't think anything about that first comment, from "Anonymous". That's probably just some guy sitting in the corner of his hovel, being mad at everybody. Again, good job. OG
Vera Karger December 08, 2011 at 03:59 PM
I'm sure Anonymous would've been cursing the darkness had not CL&P, or some other enterprising bunch of people, not come along to develop this power source.
Christine E. December 08, 2011 at 04:15 PM
I grew up going to Candlewood Lake. A lot can be found on the bottom of that lake! Bridges, structures, farm tools, stone walls. Only a few man-made lakes that have artifacts like that allow diving, and Candlewood is one of them.

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