DARIEN, CT — History is often said to be one of life’s greatest teachers. Now those who visit the Darien Heritage Trail will be enriched and educated for years to come.
Last Friday, the city unveiled four new markers on the trail with groundbreaking ceremonies.
Then, the most recent markers are:
Battle of Post & Nearwater Farm Road
This landmark, next to Hindley School, tells of a historic Revolutionary War battle in which Loyalists and Patriots clashed.
It also pays homage to the original Hindley School, then called Noroton District School, as well as Nearwater Farm which was built by Nathaniel Weed in 1750.
Noroton River Cemetery
This marker traces the history of the Noroton River Cemetery, which had to be moved to its present location in the mid-1920s to allow for road construction. The tombstones date back hundreds of years.
The pond was originally built to provide ice for storage in the cooler that today stands near the West Avenue entrance to the park. It also served as a geographic landmark for travelers and freight train workers on the New Haven Railroad.
The marker also shares the story of George Dudley Tilley.
End bridge of rings
A wooden bridge was first built in 1825, then replaced by an iron bridge in 1895. It was rebuilt in stone in 1930.
The Landing, as it is known, is where the community that became Darien really began. This marker traces the beginnings of Darien, and the history of the bridge which served as a vital link.
These latest beacons are part of a network of nine — the last beacons will be installed downtown this fall or next spring.
The trail was designed by the Darien Bicentennial Committee three years ago and undertaken by volunteers who have worked in recent years with the Darien Museum and the Monuments and Ceremonies Commission.
The Darien Foundation donated $40,000 for the project.
“It’s fantastic,” said Alan Miller, chairman of the Bicentenary Committee, at the unveiling last Friday near Hindley School for the Battle of Post Road and Nearwater Farm.
“[The project] started in 2019 for the bicentenary, then COVID hit, so here we are in 2022. It gave us a chance to do better than we originally planned,” Miller added.
For Shannon Silsby, volunteer and project manager for the Heritage Trail, life is made up of stories.
“These stories speak to people in different ways, and they’re stories that a lot of us don’t know about,” she said of the historical markers. “It’s about bringing them back to life, looking at them with the eyes of today, and hopefully impacting how we see the future.”
The Heritage Trail logo represents the Rings End Bridge and its three arches. Each arch represents the past, present and future, and the bridge serves as a symbol to connect generations throughout history.
Each marker has a QR code, so passers-by can use their phone to scan for more information.
First coach Monica McNally said the markers, especially the one near Hindley, provide great educational opportunities.
“These are a great way to commemorate the things that have happened in our community,” she said. “We’ve spread them all over the city, and I think it’s a fantastic way for us to remember not just today, but in the future, the different events that happened at these sites. “
Sarah Woodberry, executive director of the Darien Foundation, said the foundation was excited to work on the project.
“I feel like for me, it’s been really inspirational,” she said. “I think [the markers] are welcomed and people learn from them.”