Haddam Island State Park

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Coordinates: 41°29′30″N 72°31′02″W / 41.49167°N 72.51722°W / 41.49167; -72.51722
Haddam Island State Park
Connecticut State Park
Country  United States
State  Connecticut
County Middlesex
Town Haddam
Elevation 10 ft (3 m) [1]
Coordinates 41°29′30″N 72°31′02″W / 41.49167°N 72.51722°W / 41.49167; -72.51722 [1]
Area 14 acres (6 ha) [2]
Established 1944 [3]
Management Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Location in Connecticut
Website: Haddam Island State Park

Haddam Island State Park is an undeveloped 14-acre (5.7 ha) island in the lower Connecticut River in the town of Haddam, Connecticut, in the United States. Originally owned by the Wangunk tribe, the island was retained for their own use when they sold a 150-square-mile (390 km2) tract of land to European colonists in May 1662. Throughout the years, continued land sales including three reservations led to the Wangunk's tribe moving away from the Connecticut River by 1785. In the 19th century, the island was used for fishing and farming. The early 20th century saw it as a place of public recreation, and the State of Connecticut purchased the island and made it a state park in 1944. The park is only accessible by boat, and recommended activities are boating, fishing, and birdwatching.


The European settlers of the area originally named the island Thirty Mile Island because it was erroneously believed to be 30 miles (48 km) north of the Connecticut River's mouth. An area of 150 square miles (390 km2) was sold by the Wangunk tribe to the English settlers in May 1662 for thirty coats.[3][4] The original English settlement in the area was known as Thirty Mile Island Plantation, but the natives reserved the right to use the island.[3] Though little documentation exists today, the Wangunk tribe lived on the island and in the surrounding area, and they were alternatively known as the Wangum or Wongam. In the Algonquin language, Wangum means "bend" and refers to the tribe which lives along the bend of the Connecticut River. Though peaceful and friendly with the colonists, the tribe reportedly assisted the escape of a Pequot raiding party in the Pequot War, which damaged their relations, but the tribe did not take part in King Philip's War.[4]

In the passing centuries, more sale of land followed, including three reservations for the tribe. In 1785, a committee was formed by the colonists to pay tribal members for the sale of the land. By this time, the Wangunk tribe had moved away from the Connecticut River and brought a quiet and poorly documented end to what was once a great tribe that chose to peacefully coexist with the colonists.[4] At the close of the 18th century, the island was one of the most important fishing locations on the Connecticut River.[3] By 1819, the island was listed as 18 acres (7.3 ha) in area and was expected to increase in size following the construction of a pier 90 rods north of the island, which caused the accumulation of sand at the head of the island.[5] The island is currently listed as 14 acres (5.7 ha) in size.[2] In the 19th century, two fishing companies operated from the island and constructed piers, and the island was also used for grazing cattle and farming corn.[3] Records in the late 19th century indicate that the Haddam Island area of the Connecticut River was dredged annually.[6] The island became a popular recreational area with picnics and private events in the beginning of the 20th century. The island was purchased by the State of Connecticut in 1944, and it became a state park. According to legend, Captain Kidd buried some of his treasure on the island, but none has been found.[3]


Haddam Island State Park is home to a large number of bird species, especially during annual migrations, which make it suitable for birdwatching. Bird-banding and other research activities have taken place on the island. Other recommended activities are boating and fishing; fishing was the historic use of the island from centuries ago.[7] To access to the island, one must cross the Connecticut River, and there is no parking area or fees. The northern side of the island has a beach that is fragile and cannot support heavy visitation, and the island has a significant amount of poison ivy.[7][8] The nearest access point is the Haddam Meadows State Park boat launch, which features chemical toilets and parking.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Haddam Island State Park". Geographic Names Information System, U.S. Geological Survey. September 12, 1979. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee (January 23, 2014). "State Parks and Forests: Funding" (PDF). Staff Findings and Recommendations. Connecticut General Assembly. p. A-2. Retrieved March 20, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Parks: Haddam Island State Park". The Haddam Historical Society. Retrieved December 8, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c Gleysteen, Will (May 4, 2014). "Haddam Island and the Wangunk Tribe". Trinity Banter. Trinity College. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  5. ^ Field, David Dudley (1819). A Statistical Account of the County of Middlesex, in Connecticut. Middletown, Connecticut: Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences. 
  6. ^ United States Congressional serial set, Issue 4280. Washington Government Printing Office. 1901. p. 1168. 
  7. ^ a b Leary, Joseph (2004). A Shared Landscape: A Guide & History of Connecticut's State Parks & Forests. Friends of the Connecticut State Parks, Inc. p. 80. ISBN 0974662909. 
  8. ^ "Haddam Island State Park". State Parks and Forests. Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Haddam Meadows Boat Launch (Connecticut River) Haddam". Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Retrieved December 9, 2014. 

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