Salisbury

Salisbury is the most northwestern town in Connecticut. Massachusetts lies on its northern border, and New York on its western. Though the peak of Mount Frissell is in Massachusetts, its south slope is Connecticut’s highest point at 2,380 feet. In marked contrast is Lake Wononscopomuc, which, at 102 feet, is the deepest lake in the state. The Housatonic River flows along the eastern edge of town and the Great Falls of the Housatonic provide power both physically and spiritually. From 14 different school districts in the late 19th C., five population centers have emerged: the villages of Salisbury and Lakeville and the hamlets of Amesville, Lime Rock, and Taconic.

Before the arrival of European settlers the area was at the southeastern corner of the Mohican tribal lands, used mostly as seasonal hunting grounds. In 1720, a couple of Dutch families migrated from the Hudson River Valley and acquired land along the Housatonic. By 1731, a large deposit of iron ore was discovered and settlement of the land by people of English heritage increased dramatically. The town charter was granted and the first town meeting convened in 1741. Ethan Allen came from Cornwall as part of a group that built the area’s first iron blast furnace in 1762. It was this same furnace that, under the direction of Governor Jonathan Trumbull, cast more than 800 cannons for use by Continental and State forces during the American Revolution. Iron fueled the economy of the town for nearly 200 years, but economic forces outside the area reduced demand for Salisbury iron and the town transitioned to education and tourism. To illustrate this transition, the village now known as Lakeville had its name changed from Furnace Village in 1846.

Today, Salisbury boasts about its public elementary school, Salisbury Central, and its three independent schools, Hotchkiss, Salisbury, and Indian Mountain. What has become the Scoville Memorial Library was established in 1771 through public donations. In 1810, after adding the Bingham Library for Youth, the nation’s first public children’s collection of its kind, the library received $100 from town funds to expand the holdings, making it the oldest tax supported library in the United States.

Norwegian immigrants began teaching locals to ski jump in the 1920s. Their first competition took place in 1927. Since then the group has become the Salisbury Winter Sports Association and has conducted the Eastern National Ski Jumping Championships every February since 1952. Lime Rock Park, “The Road Racing Center of the East,” built in 1956 to showcase state-of-the-art road and highway safety principles, is the oldest continuously operated road racing venue in the country. The Appalachian Trail traverses the northern part of town and a number of other hiking and nature trails are scattered throughout the area.

Interesting Places

Salisbury Winter Sports Association. Fosters winter sports among all ages, especially ski jumping, and holds Jumpfest and the Eastern National Ski Jumping Championships in early Feb. on Satre Hill. 80 Indian Cave Rd, Salisbury. 860-850-0080 http://www.salisburyisjumping.com/

Lime Rock Park. Road racing venue. Main Spectator Entrance, 60 White Hollow Rd., Lakeville. 860-435-5000 http://limerock.com/

Scoville Memorial Library. Open Tues. thru Sun. Check website or call for hours. 38 Main St. Salisbury. 860-435-2838 http://www.scovillelibrary.org/

Salisbury Association. Rotating history and environmental exhibits. Hiking trail information. Open Mon. thru Fri. 9 am to 1 pm or by appointment. 24 Main Street, Salisbury. 860-435-0566 https://www.salisburyassociation.org/