DAY TRIPS: Find history, beauty, friendly folk in Sterling

Published on Friday, 12 April 2019 22:22
Written by Marty Podskoch

Sterling is a Connecticut border town, located in the southeast corner of Windham County Any farther east and you would be in Rhode Island. Sterling is nine miles long, north to south, and has an average width of three miles. The population was 3,574 in the 2010 census. The town has two village centers, Sterling and Oneco. It has a relatively new elementary school, opening in 2006, and shares a high school with the neighboring Town of Plainfield.

In 1794 Sterling was incorporated after separating from Voluntown. By the early 1800s it was a prosperous small town with multiple textile factories, highlighted by the discovery and development of “Sterling Fast Black” dye by James Pike and his son William. In 1880 James Pike organized the Sterling Dyeing and Finishing Co., bringing into use the bleaching of cloth by chlorine as well as dyeing fast black.

Sterling was also noted for its quarries, which produced the finest grained bluish-gray colored granite. The quarry operation soon became one the largest employers in the area, at its peak, employing over 200 men, and shipping granite as far away as England.. History of the quarries remains memorialized by the “Great Wall” located in the village of Oneco. It is 15” wide and ¼ mile long using waste stone from the quarry.

Another attraction in Sterling is “YE Old Voluntown Pound,” located between the villages of Sterling and Oneco, one of the few left in the state. It was built in 1722 by a vote of the citizens to confine roaming sheep and stray cattle. At the time the only fences built were to keep animals out of the home and garden. Strays were impounded, the owner was notified, and charged for the animal’s stay.

Sterling is also the home of “Pharisee Rocks.” This is a huge chain of rocks that extend about one-half mile from the highest peak and gradually tapers off into what is known as “The Narrows.” Indians used these rocks for a lookout. By climbing to its highest peak, they could trace their game to learn the exact herding locations. Many pow-wows were held here as it was a meeting place for several tribes.

Sterling was the birthplace of Charles H. Dow, who, along with Edward Jones, founded the Wall Street Journal in 1889 and originated the Dow-Jones Average.

Sterling is a place where history, scenic beauty, and friendly folks come together. Any visit to Sterling would be incomplete if it did not include a fine home-cooked meal at a local Church or Grange. Plan ahead, you won’t be disappointed.

Interesting Places

Sterling Historical Society.1183 Plainfield Pike, Room 19. sterlinghistoricalsocietyct@gmail.com http://sterlinghistoricalsocietyct.weebly.com

Sterling Hill Historic District. Located along scenic Route 14-A, the district includes picturesque colonial homes and is a part of the 680-mile historic Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route. Follow in the steps of George Washington as the march route along Plainfield Pike (Route 14A) has its own historic designation on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Pachaug State Forest. Several hiking trails are located in the southern end of town as a part of the largest state forest which covers 26,477 acres in six different towns. http://www.ct.gov/deep/cwp/view.asp?a=2716&q=325068&deepNav_GID=1650

Moosup Valley State Park Trail. A partially-paved walking and biking path that follows the old New Haven Railroad line from Moosup through to Rhode Island , where it connects with the Coventry Greenway. https://www.railstotrails.org/ , https://www.traillink.com/trail/moosup-valley-state-park-trail/,

Sterling Family Day. Held the second Sat. of September, includes fun, food, and fireworks. www.sterlingct.us

Ekonk Community Grange #89. The Grange, a staple of Sterling life since its organization in 1888, hosts many events in the community throughout the year, but is probably best known for its dinners. Whether you’re looking for corned beef and cabbage for St. Patrick’s Day or turkey at Thanksgiving, you can find a hearty meal and a warm atmosphere in the Grange. 723 Ekonk Hill Rd. http://www.ekonkgrange.org/

Sterling Public Library. Hosts different talks and fun activities for both children and adults. 1183 Plainfield Pike, Oneco 860-564-2692 https://www.sterlingct.us/departments/library/

Weidele’s Pizza & Pub. 901 Sterling Rd. Sterling. 860-564-6680

Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm. Home-made ice cream, turkey pies, baked goods, and a corn maze in fall. 227 Ekonk Hill Road, Moosup http://www.ekonkhillturkeyfarm.com/

Megan McGory Gleason, President and Ron Marchesseault, Curator of Sterling Historical Society

This is an excerpt from the book, The Connecticut 169 Club: Your Passport & Guide to Exploring CT. It was written by local residents to encourage people to visit the beautiful 169 towns & cities in Connecticut. The 8.5 x 11 hardcover book contains 368 pages and over 180 illustrations, maps, and photos. It was edited by Marty Podskoch, author of eight books including the Conn. Civilian Conservation Corps Camps, Catskill & Adirondack fire towers, Adk CCC Camps, Adk 102 Club, and Adk illustrated stories. Please specify if you want signed. The travel book can be ordered with free shipping by sending $24.95 plus CT sales tax $1.58 to: Podskoch Press, 43 O’Neill Lane, East Hampton, CT 06424 It is also available at local stores, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. Information 860-267-2442 podskoch@comcast.net or https://martinpodskoch.com



Posted in New Britain Herald, General News on Friday, 12 April 2019 22:22. Updated: Friday, 12 April 2019 22:24.