Saturday, April 17, 2010

A Visit to the Village of Yantic, Part One

Mother Nature smiled on my day off last Wednesday when she gave Connecticut warm temperatures and blue skies so not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, I took my camera and headed just a bit west of where I live to the Village of Yantic which sits on the Norwich/Franklin line.

Truth be told, I visit Yantic quite often as I much prefer the small post office there that's easy to get to unlike the main post office in downtown Norwich.  It's a tiny little place - one that gives you that feeling of small town camaraderie. It's well worth the short drive out of my way when I need to mail a package out or buy another book of stamps for Jamie.

Yantic is of course named for the same river that winds through it - the Yantic River - and yes, that would be the Yantic River that everyone heard so much about when we were dealing with all of that nasty flooding a few weeks ago! Doesn't look that ominous, does it?

Back in 1827, the Village of Yantic was established by Captain Erastus Williams - once a seafaring captain who fell in love with a beautiful woman whom he married and then gave up the sea and grew land-legs for.  Originally the land was a huge farm but he turned it into a lot more than that as you'll see over the course of the next couple posts. 

Of course, there's another reason that I've decided the drive to Yantic isn't bad other than the cute little post office and that's the above railroad trestle that crosses the Yantic River.  This is sort of Part II (if you will) to my usual favorite railroad trestle over the Yantic near the falls closer to my house.  The same railroad line runs on these tracks - the New England Central Railway - and as you can see it's just as elusive here as it is by the falls ... least ways last Wednesday! 

That's okay, though, because there was a lot more to take pictures of in Yantic besides empty railroad trestles starting with the old Hale Mill aka the Yantic Woolen Company that was built in 1865. 

The Yantic Woolen Company manufactured fine flannels and ladies' dress goods back in the day and employed 150 people who lived in mill family housing just on the other side of the Yantic River. 

Annually the mill scoured 430,000 pounds of wool and manufactured 2,250,000 yards of flannel - at least that was what was reported back in January 1888 in a small booklet written by the Norwich Board of Trade called "Norwich, Connecticut:  Its Importance as a Business and Manufacturing Center and As a Place of Residence".

Total cost of labor back then was $50,000 a year which may not seem like much now but was definitely a whole lot of money back in the late 1800's! As best as my lousy math skills can figure, that would be well over $1,000,000.00 a year by today's standards.

Before the economy tanked, there were plans to convert the old mill into a resort hotel; work had  commenced to make that happen back in 2006.

The project called for 142 guest rooms and suites and was going to turn the former mill into quite the showplace as well as be a terrific use of the beautiful old building.

Unfortunately, though, money ran out and the granite building still stands empty as it towers over the small Village of Yantic - a reminder of the once prosperous days of both it and Norwich's past.

This postcard is dated from 1914 and shows the mill as it looked at the turn of the century.  I hope that someday someone is able to continue the work renovating it as it would be a shame to see such a beautiful structure just sit and rot.  Seems to me that sometimes we're so busy building the future that we neglect the past but as a lover of history, I think it's important to know where you came from in order to get to where you want to go. 

I'll be sharing some more pictures and history of Yantic with you as soon as I finish sorting through the 180+ photos that I took and doing the research that goes along with them.  Bear with me, that may take awhile in between everything else but I don't believe it will take me anywhere near as long as it did to get through my Visit to Vermont - I hope!


  1. Yantic is lovely! And the skies were a beautiful blue, especially juxtaposed with that bright spring green!

    I don't know why they build new junk when there are so many well-made properties just begging to be restored to it's former glory!

  2. wow that would be a lovely resort! maybe someday...

    smiles, bee

  3. My favorite is the train traack. The angle makes the scene very magical. Great job... :)

  4. Time to trade in the camera obsession with a trip to the doctor.

    New Doctor Who Tonight!!!!!

  5. Such a lovely area. So sad about that empty building. It is quite charming.

    Big hugs...

  6. That is a great old factory building. It would make an interesting site for a resort.

    This post reminds me once again how your area of southeastern Connecticut is similar to the Lower Naugatuck Valley with its old mill town feel.

    I must get there someday!

    Love the train track photo.

  7. Another fine historical and photographic essay.

  8. That would be a wonderful hotel! I hope they will still go ahead with it when the economy picks up. It will pick up eventually, right? I loved how you added the old postcard. Divine!


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