The Westport Museum of History and Culture will open a new walking tour later this month featuring stories about the history of navigation and commerce on the Saugatuck River – beginning with its Indigenous peoples.
“The tour explores history from when the Paugussett tribe lived in the area and used it for fishing,” said Ramin Ganeshram, the museum’s executive director.
The Saugatuck River was originally home to the fishing and oyster farming communities of the Paugussett Tribe. European settlers then established trade and sea routes along the river, which attracted Irish and Italian immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries.
The landscape is still marked by its commercial and industrial past, but Ganeshram said there is a more diverse history to explore. “There is Black history that begins in the 19th century and Aboriginal history that begins 7,500 years ago. There is the story of women and children who started out as factory workers. There is a history of immigrants who came to Saugatuck to work in the factories and to work on the railroad,” he said.
The new tour explores the history of what remains in the area, with a blue iron truss bridge crossing the Saugatuck River and Bridge Street. The Saugatuck River Bridge, or William F. Cribari Memorial Bridge, “is one of the oldest movable bridges” to carry river traffic, according to Ganeshram.
“Visitors will really resonate with the fact that there are aspects that follow American history from pre-colonization to the present day, and there will be startling facts and information that they probably didn’t know” , did he declare.
The program is funded by Connecticut Humanities and explores the rich history of this Westport waterfront neighborhood.
The walking tour will take place from 1 to 2 p.m. on Sunday, October 16 and from 12 to 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 22. The meeting place is the Saugatuck train station. More pricing information is available on line.