Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Connecticut's Thimble Islands

Technically, "New England" includes all of Connecticut.  From one perspective, however, the southernmost part of New England in Connecticut is the Thimble Islands.  This collection of islands off of Branford, Connecticut (adjacent to Stony Creek) is worth experiencing both for its unique geography and its unique structures and culture.

A quite foggy morning.  
Some small craft followed to make use of the radar.

As the name suggests, Stony Creek is the home of significant granite production.  Stony Creek Quarry supplied the pink/orange Stony Creek granite for the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Station, and Columbia University.
Stony Creek Granite is everywhere, from the parks.... the harbors and seawalls.  Stony Creek had also been from where "the Daddy Boat" launched. In the past, "the Daddy Boat" delivered the fathers to the islands at the end of the day. The Friday night run would deliver the fathers who had spent the weekdays working in the city and would come out each weekend.
Exactly how many islands there are depends not only on your defintion of island, but also if it is high or low tide. Nonetheless, many have distinctive feels.
  • On Money Island, for example, there is almost a “dorm room” feel with some of the houses so close together that everyone just walks in and out of each others houses, and the close relationships have even resulted in inter/intra-island marriages.
  • Bear Island which has exported its stone to such constructions as the Lincoln Memorial, Grant's Tomb, and the base of the Statue of Liberty.
  • Horse Island, the largest island at 17 acres  is owned by neighboring Yale University and is used for ecological research by Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History.
  • Outer Island is used by Southern Connecticut State University and used for their studies.
  • Despite their not inconsiderable price tags, they rarely go up for sale.  About thirty of the islands are inhabited.


Many of the islands look like coastal Maine except for the color of the bedrock.

There are electrical wires and water pipes for some of the houses.  Others rely on generators, wells and as shown here, solar panels.

The channels can go quickly from very deep... shallow.  This is also why it is preferable to travel when the tide is high.

There is a good variety of shorebirds including this Black-backed Gull...

...and this Cormorant.

Waterside Courts

It may be inevitable that some of the garrishness from today's Greenwich and Westport infiltrates the area.

It is easy to see why Captain Kidd is rumored to have hidden some of his treasure here.

All types of objects are transported back and forth.

At least one of the crew had a clever way of getting out of the sun.
A Sign of the Quarry Industry
Transport vehicles run day and night, to the occasional chagrin of some new neighbors. 


lorrwill said...

Oh Muffy, what a fabulous post. Gorgeous pictures, intriguing data and just a wonderful leisurely summer tone.

Thank you very much for sharing this. (It is as close to a vacation as I will get.)

Pete said...

Several summers ago I explored these islands - the old estate owned by Yale is worth seeing if you can find it.

Anonymous said...

That are Mouthwatering pictures. My wish to visit New England after University grows with each picture you post...

Silver Spoon said...

I have always been fascinated by the Thimbles. They remind me of the 1000 Islands.

WC.L.R. said...

Seaside courts? Incredible idea! Where so I purchase a membership?

j.mosby said...

Wow! What's not to like about those beautiful coastal views! With your great photography, I see book deal with Assouline books with a book signing in the Hamptons! Sound good?

Preppy 101 said...

It's so gorgeous, Muffy. I realize after these posts that I have seen so very little of our beautiful country. I need a New England trip with my itinerary made exclusively by Muffy. :-) xoxo

Susan R said...

The photos are stunning. Looks like a great spot to live or vacation.
I think New England tourism might need to start giving you a little kick back because there's no doubt that your descriptions and photos draw people in.

David Sucher said...

"...inter-island marriage" eh?

Sounds fascinating. A bit risque? & maybe good for anthropological research?

Joy said...

All the houses are so beautiful.

Anonymous said...

This was such a beautiful post! That is exactly how I would like to spend my Summers. Gorgeous photography - the photos make me want to go there immediately! Absolutely stunning scenery. Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

We've sailed to the Thimbles on numerous occasions from western Long Island Sound. Tough anchoring though. It helps to have an old copy of Julius Willensky's cruising guide along! Nice post!


M said...

Ditto the enthusiastic comments by others. I live vicariously by reading your blog since I reside in a landlocked state. You write of places I didn't know existed but would relish the chance to explore. Thanks for so generously opening up your corner of the world to the rest of us!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a lovely post. I believe that you meant "intra-island" (within the island) rather than "inter-island" (between islands) with regard to the marriages on the dorm-room island.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Nantucket further south?

Stu said...

whilst at the lounge at Manchester International Airport, I stumbled across a magazine called "Private Island Magazine" it was a rich publication which featured a whole set of houses alone on an island, wouldn't it be lovely to live somewhere like that? Great post

LPC said...

So much like the Swedish Archipelago! Also a wonderful place. Love these photos. Makes me want to head to a northern maritime.