Putnamming One Foot in Front of the Other
The Putnam River Mill Heritage & River Trails
August 13, 2017
No, I didn’t walk the full length of either of these trails. Not that they aren’t cool and interesting. They just aren’t the types of trails I seek to fully complete.
But since Putnam is devoid of any woodland hiking trails, and I like to have at least something in the hiking section for each town, and because the town has put a good deal of effort into these things… here we are.
Putnam River Trail
I focused on this trail – an oddly named trail that skirts the eastern bank of the Quinebaug River for nearly two miles. There is no “Putnam River.” I’d guess I’m the only person to ever have an issue with the naming convention.
South to north, the trail runs adjacent to Kennedy Drive for about 2 miles before terminating at Providence Street near downtown. The path of the trail runs through woodlands, 2 parks, an antique shopping district, and near revitalized mills. Five historic exhibits are located along the trail commemorating Putnam’s railroad history, textile mills, and founding citizens. The river’s natural resources and The Great Flood of 1955 are highlighted as well. There are 3 bridges adjacent to the trail including a 200-foot pedestrian bridge built on the stone foundation of an old railroad trestle. Each bridge offers scenic views of the river.
The highlight is, of course, Cargill Falls. The falls were named after Benjamin Cargill. He operated a grist mill originally built in 1730, adding a distillery and other shops in 1760. The Pomfret Manufacturing Company later built the Pomfret Cotton Mills to produce textile products in 1807; it is the oldest such site in the nation. (I found this to not actually be true.)
The 4-story squared stone mill west of the detached hip-roofed office building is the oldest standing factory building (c. 1823) in the valley.
You know I love me some wacky superlatives. This one is quite… something.
I poked around the trail here and there and found the old railroad bridge across the river to be pretty neat. It’s always nice when “cities” (insofar as Putnam is a city) provide nice walks like this one. For that, I give the River Trail a thumbs up.
River Mills Heritage Trail
More or less the same trail. I mean, it’s not, but I don’t imagine many know the difference. Its 1-mile commemorates Putnam’s link to the American Industrial Revolution. The trail overlaps two sections of the Putnam River Trail and begins on Kennedy Drive at the Monohansett Mill historical marker.
as they bring you cross the Quinebaug River to the Cargill Falls Mill on Pomfret Street – the oldest cotton mill site in the nation (1807).
Anyway, the trail links six historic mills and celebrates Putnam’s roots in a river-powered economy. Like its predecessor, the popular Putnam River Trail, the River Mills Heritage Trail is an easy, level walk or bike ride affording good views of the several falls along the river.
The town does a great job of placing nice maps and explanatory signage for both trails around town. There are weird butterfly poems and stuff along the way here and there which I never came to understand.
There you have it. Two urban(ish), historic(ish) trails in Putnam. Walk the town and learn about the town all at once. Oh, and there’s also the Quinebaug River Water Trail here too. I’ve yet to purchase a kayak, so I haven’t done it and probably won’t, but it’s cool that there’s actually three trails here that aren’t “classic” trails.