Farmington River: Wild & Scenic
In this Area in the Past.....
Prehistorically, the mountains at Satan's Kingdom blocked water flow, creating a lake extending northwest for several miles. Geological forces later forced water to cut through the rock, to form the gorge through which the Tunxis River flowed. The river was later named the Farmington River.
This beautiful river gorge, with its towering cliffs, has been called Satan's Kingdom since at least the 1820s.
The origin of the name has been the subject of much debate; one story involves a Native American tribe leader nicknamed "Satan". In the mid 1800s, Satan's Kingdom was a settlement populated by people who adopted an Indian lifestyle. This area was inhabited by Native Americans and many of society's outcasts such as outlaws and ex-slaves; this is another possible reason for the name.
In the 1870's, trains of the Central New England Railroad (CNE) operated throughout the rugged hills of the northwest corner of Connecticut. CNE trains originated in Hartford and traveled northwest to Tariffville and East Granby and then headed south through Simsbury, Canton, and Collinsville before heading north and entering the rugged gorge. The railroad tracks continued westbound paralleling the old Albany Turnpike (currently Route 44), until they reached Millerton which is on the Connecticut/New York border. The New Haven & Northampton Railroad (the Canal Line) tracks ran on the west side of Satan's Kingdom. This branch of the railroad, completed in 1850, ran from Plainville to New Hartford. Remains of the railroad tracks and bridges can still be found on both sides of the river downstream of the Route 44 Bridge.
What is the "Wild & Scenic" Designation?
In 1994, 14 miles of the west branch of the Farmington River received National Wild and Scenic River status. It is the first river in Connecticut designated Wild & Scenic and one of just a few in New England. The U.S. Congress established the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System in 1968 to protect outstanding rivers from the harmful effects of federally-assisted projects such as new dams, hydroelectric facilities, and bridges. The system includes more than 200 rivers nationwide.
What makes the Farmington River Wild & Scenic ?
The Farmington River features natural beauty, historic sites, recreational opportunities, rare wildlife and outstanding fisheries. These values make the river a natural for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.