The Old Woodbury Path

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Program Description

Southbury 350th Anniversary

The Town of Southbury is holding events and activities all year long to celebrate 350 years of community, culture and history (1673-2023), aimed at highlighting the past and progress of the one and only Southbury.

The 350th Anniversary Steering Committee consists of John Dwyer and Kevin Bielmeier (co-chairs), Brian Jones (vice-chair), Justin Bette, Lynn Dwyer, Melinda Elliott, Michael Ganem, Kara Kenney, Mary Korsu, and Gosia Liedlich.

In 1673, 15 families from Stratford travelled up the Pootatuck (Housatonic) River on rafts and canoes, settling on land in this area known as the Pomperaug Plantation, which was purchased from the Pootatuck Native Americans. Those religious dissidents spent their first night in Woodbury and the second night under a white oak tree on Crook Horn Road, by the former Berry Farm, now known as Settlers Park, in what is now known as Southbury.

Event Details

For centuries, the Woodbury Path was the Lower Naugatuck Valley’s most important transportation route for Native Americans, settlers and traders

Many centuries ago, Native Americans living in interior Connecticut established trails to the Naugatuck and Housatonic Rivers and to Long Island Sound where they obtained seafood and traded with other tribal communities.  By the late 1600s, European settlers had established farms between Woodbury and Derby and needed a way to bring their farm products to market.  They widened one old path, first to accommodate horses and then ox carts. Eventually, it connected Woodbury and beyond with Derby Landing, which was then an important port for ships that carried produce to New York, Boston, Europe and the West Indies. Travelers referred to this ancient road as the Woodbury Path, and used it not only for travel, but also as a boundary marker and point of reference. The Woodbury Path played a vital role in allowing trade and industry to flourish in Southbury and surrounding towns and helped open the interior of Connecticut to Colonial life.  Eventfully, the Path met its demise as new turnpikes steered farmers to the larger ice-free ports in New Haven and Bridgeport severely impacting the importance of the Derby seaport.  More modern roads replaced the old Woodbury Path, but several original sections still exist.  This program will review the colorful history of the Woodbury Path, its effect on early commerce and its eventual demise.

Peter Rzasa earned his B.S. degree in Forest Chemistry from S.U.N.Y. College of Environmental Science and, after retiring, has provided nature-based programs to nature centers and land trusts on such topics as wildflowers, lichens and plant intelligence.  He became interested in forest landscape interpretation after discovering the remains of old foundations, mines, quarries, and other structures left by the early inhabitants of Connecticut.  Peter has researched an early 1800’s Seymour lime kiln and the 350 year old Woodbury Path, an ancient road that allowed farmers from Woodbury and beyond to bring farm products to the riverport called Derby Landing and to return with needed supplies.  He is currently cataloging the location of charcoal pits in the Lower Naugatuck Valley.  His goal is to encourage people, especially children, to look more closely at our natural and historical world and to become more aware of their hidden wonders. 

Like all Southbury Public Library programs, this event is free to attend and open to anyone regardless of town of residency. Registration is required. For more information about this program, please email Rebecca at or call the reference desk at 203-262-0626 ext 130.



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