Haley Farm State Park
|Haley Farm State Park|
|Connecticut State Park|
|Elevation||43 ft (13 m) |
|Area||267 acres (108 ha) |
|Management||Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection|
|Website: Haley Farm State Park|
Haley Farm State Park is a Connecticut state park preserving Colonial-era farmland as open space in the town of Groton. It was the site of a dairy farm owned by Caleb Haley. The land was sold to A. C. White in 1953 who developed Mumford Cove and sold 198 acres to the State of Connecticut for $300,000 in July 1970. In 1975, a bike trail from Mystic to Noank was established and part of it goes through the Haley Farm State Park. Another 57 acres were purchased for a total of $913,300 and added to the park in 2002. The Haley Farm State Park includes 267 acres that is directly connected to Bluff Point Coastal Reserve through a pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks. The park is reserved for activities such as bicycling and walking. The facilities only include pit toilets.
Land containing the acreage for Haley Farm State Park was part of a larger parcel granted to John Winthrop Jr., in 1648 or 1649. Winthrop, known better as "John Winthrop the Younger", was governor of the Saybrook Colony and often recognized as "Connecticut's first governor". The land was later split up, and the piece which contained Haley Farm was designated Fort Hill Farm. The farm was purchased by Starr Chester in 1789 and passed to Noyes Barber in 1833. The land was split again in 1852 with the farm being sold to Henry B. Lewis. Four hundred acres were sold to Caleb Haley in 1869 for the price of $12,000. Haley farmed the land, built stone walls throughout the property and raced horses around "Racetrack Pond". The land passed to his son, Samuel Haley, after his death in 1924. Samuel Haley continued to operate the farm until his death in 1947, when it was passed to his daughter Juliet Haley. The farm produced cream and milk that was shipped to Noank, West Mystic and Mystic. In 1953, the farm was sold out of the Haley family to A. C. White who abandoned the farm to develop a gully called Mumford Cove. Mr. White placed the 250-acre parcel of land containing Haley Farm for sale. In 1960, the homestead burned down and the other buildings eventually were demolished in 1973 after being documented for possible future reconstruction.
In 1963, efforts were made to purchase the land to prevent it from being developed. The town opposed re-zoning it to multi-residential for Algernon-Blair's development plan. The land was sold from Alcor Inc. to O&G Construction Co. as a 250 acre parcel in 1966. A total of 198 acres of land was returned to Mr. White after O&G Construction "were in arrears on their payments and back taxes". In July 1970, the state acquired 198 acres of Haley Farm from A. C. White for a total of $300,000. The money was the result of federal funding for $150,000, state funding for $100,000, and the remaining $50,000 came from the Groton Open Space Association, a local organization that completed raising the required funds in early 1970. At the time, the Park and Forest Commission said there were no plans to make it into a park. However, the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection recognizes that Haley Farm was officially made a Connecticut State Park in July 1970.
In 1975, a bike trail from Mystic to Noank was established and part of it goes through the Haley Farm State Park. In 1981, a $27,000 planned improvement to enhance the trail with stone dust resulted in objections and concerns by locals. Objections were raised on the belief the project would increase motorbike traffic in the park which could pose a hazard to hikers and bicyclers. Riding motorbikes in the state park is illegal, but it was also noted that staff was unable to effectively to catch the bikers and had limited means to deter them. The concern of motorcycle collisions were not without merit as a fatal motorcycle-to-motorcycle crash occurred in September 1980. The idea for trail barriers was rejected because the trail also needed to be able accommodate serve emergency vehicles which were already unable to access the trail effectively.
In 2002, 57 acres were purchased for a total of $913,300 and added to the park. The first plot of land of the purchase was 49.95 acres from GuerraDeAngelis Trustees (O&G) and another 7.14 acres from Bowen Briggs. The funds for the purchase were from the State of Connecticut's Recreation and Natural Heritage Trust Program. In 2001, the "Racetrack Pond" area was purchased from the Mumford Cove Association, resulting in Haley Farm State Park now totaling 267 acres. The park was directly connected to Bluff Point Coastal Reserve through a pedestrian bridge over railroad tracks, built atop the former Groton and Stonington Street Railway bridge.
According to Leary, "[t]he park is a mosaic of upland and wetland vegetation types." Algae and intertidal plants can be found on the shore, including salt meadow grass, sedge and sphagnum moss. The swampy areas of Haley Farm State Park have red maple and tulip trees, but the uplands include cherry, hickory and shrubs. The history of the area and region have been revealed through the study of the trees. In 1973, a white oak on the site was found to be 142 years old, in the upper end of the life expectancy of the species. The first 34 years of its life showed rapid growth, believed to have been a result of the 1815 New England hurricane which cleared out many of the older trees and opened the canopy. The rings show a widening in 1918 in response to the chestnut blight and further growth in response to the 1938 New England hurricane. The mid-to-late 1960s shows little growth and serves as evidence of the near-drought conditions of New England. Haley Farm State Park is a rare habitat that "squeezes a great variety of biological diversity into a very small space." The growth and composition of the forest changes based on the major storms and other biological intrusions that result in "constant change and continuous self-adjustment" that allows the forest to thrive.
Haley Farm State Park has a 0.8 mile bike trail that is part of a larger 7.5 mile bikeway from Mystic to Groton. The park also supports jogging and hiking activities. Both the soil and bike trails are listed as "easy" difficulty by America's State Parks website. As with other state parks, motorbikes are illegal and are not permitted to be used. Hunting and shooting is not allowed in the park as it is close to residences and a high school. The facilities only include pit toilets.
- "Haley Farm State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- 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.
- Sidney Van Zandt and Priscilla Pratt. "Haley Farm: A History". Groton Open Space Association. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- "DEEP: Haley Farm State Park". State of Connecticut. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- Poro, Joan (1 June 1973). "Carriage House Razed At Haley Farm". The Day. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- "All Of Haley Farm Is Sought For Park". The Day. 2 December 1970. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- Condon, Garrett (20 July 1981). "Improved trail may create new problems for neighbors". The Day. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- Rancourt, Linda (20 August 1981). "State Says Nothing Will Stop Motorcyclists At State Park". The Day. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- Alcedo, Gladys (5 June 2002). "State Adds 57 Acres To Haley Farm State Park". The Day. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- "G&S Trolley Trail". Town of Groton, Connecticut. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- Leary, Joseph (2004). A Shared Landscape: A Guide & History of Connecticut's State Parks & Forests. Friends of the Connecticut State Parks, Inc. p. 24. ISBN 0974662909.
- "Haley Farm State Park". America's State Parks. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- "No-shooting Signs Planned At Haley Farm". The Day. 2 October 1972. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- Haley Farm State Park Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection