ECHPC – Boston Turnpike Greenway

ECHPC – Boston Turnpike Greenway Initiative
Boston Turnpike Greenway – Developed by Grant in 2005 and completed in 2006. Thanks to the ECHPC and The Quinebaug-Shetucket Heritage Corridor, Inc.

Welcome to Eastford’s Boston Turnpike Trail! Here you will be standing on the ONLY remaining unaltered portion of an early road system that first connected our cities and town during colonial times. It was first established under King Charles II of Britain and followed trails laid out in much earlier times by Native Americans.

The Boston Post Road was not a single road, but actually a system of roads that connected the important cities of the colonies: Boston, Hartford, Providence, New Haven, New York, Philadelphia, Williamsburg and Charleston. The portion in Eastford was part of the Middle Route that ran east from Hartford to Putnam, then on to Dedham, MA and finally to Boston. The trip to Boston to New York via this route was about 225 miles – considerably shorter than the southern Boston Post Road that ran along the coast.

As the name implies, an important function of these roads was to carry the mail. Back in 1673 it took about a month for a letter to go from New York to Boston. First it was carried by horseback and then later by stage coach. These roads also gave farmers a way to get their goods to markets and were also important for moving troops during colonial wars and the American Revolution.

In order to raise money to pay for the upkeep of the road, the newly formed states of the United States allowed towns to charge tolls on their portions of the Post Road. The roads then became known as “turnpikes” because of the turnstiles where travelers had to pay a toll before passing.

At some places along the Boston Turnpike Trail, you will notice that the old roadway still maintains its crown at the center. This allowed rainwater to drain off to the sides – an especially important feature in the mud season! Although cattle drivers were permitted to use the route, the cattle had to be kept off the main road. You will see stone walls running parallel to the road in places. On the other side of these walls is where the cattle were permitted to walk.

This trail passes through part of the Natchaug State Forest (for more information – see the Trails & Recreation Page in this website), as well as over privately owned land. We thank the land owners who have given their permission for the public to use this trail.

The portion of the trail between Old Colony Road and State Forest Road passes through what is known as a typical maple/oak/hickory forest. Near to the State Forest Road, the trail passes through wetland habitat. A small bridge and short length of boardwalk have been constructed (by local talent and Conservation Commission member, Thomas DeJohn) to ease your passage through these areas.

The Boston Turnpike Trail continues through hardwood forest down Rt. 198. You can turn back and re-trace your steps on the old roadway, or follow the newly cleared loop trail and visit several different habitats. Along this section, you shall cross a stream, find stands of coniferous trees planted by the Connecticut DEP Division of Forestry, pass a vernal pool, and finally return to the old Post Road after passing by a lovely meadow.

Enjoy and please attend a Conservation Commission meeting – the first Tuesday of each month – at the town office building if you are interested in volunteering on future Commission Success Story Projects!

All I want is to stand in a field and to smell green, to taste air, to feel the earth want me, Without all this concrete hating me.

Phillip Pulfrey