Thursday, September 8, 2016

More of Connecticut in Groton!

Groton, Connecticut is really something different.  It's part of what I call a megalopolis of parks and water.  I started my explorations of the area years ago just like everyone else did in Mystic, home of the Seaport, the Aquarium, and a whole lot of shopping.  There you can go to the beach, eat fresh seafood, and of course, get a Mystic Pizza.  But, if you start working your way west, you just keep on trucking.  Noank is gorgeous.  Groton's Long Point is fabulous.  On the other side you have the waterfront in New London.  You also have Fort Trumbull, Ocean Beach Park and all of it's shoreline.  Next you come across Harkness State Park in Waterford and all the scenery there.  Well, in the middle of all that sits Groton.

Groton is run on submarines.  There is a submarine base there with a great museum.  They also build submarines in Groton.  If you don't like submarines, don't go there and certainly don't live there.  This town is almost all business, and that business is submarines.

That being said, if you do like submarines, you should check out the Nautilus Museum at the Groton Submarine Base.  The Nautilus was the first nuclear submarine to go under the North Pole.  The sub is famous and it was made in Groton.  The museum is really interesting and tells you a lot about how submarines work and their history in battle.  The submarine itself is fascinating.  I love military museums.  I find it amazing that our military personnel go through as much as they do without even talking about battle.  They deserve our utmost respect.  Submarines are truly functional.  They are dark and cramped and the bunks would give me nightmares.  Hats off to the amazing military folks who live like this to help protect our country.

As I mentioned, Groton and it's partner, New London, have a long military history.  It goes back to the Revolutionary War.  This is the land of Benedict Arnold.  I never knew that much about his history until I visited Fort Griswold Battlefield State Park.  This place is amazing.  It's the ruins of the old fort that was there during the Revolutionary War.  It was an earthen fort for the most part, with a wooden building in the middle of the earthen ramparts.  There were tunneled walks for coverage and all along the bottom wall is where the guns were.  This fort, along with Fort Trumbull across the way, were the guardians of the Thames River where it meets the sea.  Unfortunately, the battles that were fought here were lost to Benedict Arnold and his British forces after he switched sides during the war.  What we have today, is a lovely monument that you can climb, beautiful grounds to wander that have a great view of the river and New London, and a good museum.

The museum tells you a lot about the time of the revolution in Groton and New London, and it tells you all about the Arnold family and Benedict's turn of events that made him choose to fight with the British.  It's interesting stuff.

The view from the monument is amazing too.

However, Fort Griswold is not the only state park in the area.  Just a couple of miles away is Bluff Point State Park.  This is a  great place to spend some time.  It used to be that people had cottages along the shores of this park.  They would come down in their horse and carriages and spend some time along the shore at the beach.  They would go swimming or clamming and have a great time.  It was good for rich people.  Until the hurricane of 1938 came along and trashed everything.  The rich people decided to not bother to rebuild and we all got a beautiful state park.  You can still ride horses there.  You can swim and go clamming.  You can walk for miles as well.  It's a beautiful park with some great shoreline.  It should not be missed.

Almost right around the corner is state park number three.  Haley Farm State Park is just that.  It used to be a farm.  It's a lovely piece of property that the locals insisted on maintaining once the days of the farm were over.  You can get some great views of the water, walk a field, watch the train go by and see some great ruins.  There are remnants of the apple orchard that they used to have and some of the biggest stone walls I've ever seen.  There are foundations from the buildings on the old farm and even some fences.  It's all very scenic and it's nestled in a residential neighborhood and a little difficult to find.  It is quieter than some other parks, so if you like to have the place to yourself, you will love it there.

So, while Groton is an industrial town with a military history, it has a lot of beautiful scenery to offer.  Just walking along the river is amazing.  Sure, you can go to the adventure park and climb through the trees, but you could also walk where farmers used to be or see a beautiful shoreline.  Groton is much more than most people give it credit for, and I hope that people pay more attention now.  So, don't overlook this city.  Don't pass it by on your way to Mystic.  It's worth the stop to learn history, see amazing technology, and enjoy the beauty along the shore.  And who knows?  You might be like me and get to see a submarine coming home from a tour of duty.  So, come and enjoy!

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