Minnie Island State Park

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Minnie Island State Park
Connecticut State Park
Country  United States
State  Connecticut
County New London
Towns Montville, Salem
Elevation 397 ft (121 m) [1]
Coordinates 41°30′21″N 72°13′19″W / 41.50583°N 72.22194°W / 41.50583; -72.22194Coordinates: 41°30′21″N 72°13′19″W / 41.50583°N 72.22194°W / 41.50583; -72.22194 [1]
Area 1 acre (0 ha) [2]
Established 1925
Management Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Location in Connecticut
Website: Minnie Island State Park

Minnie Island State Park is a state-owned recreation area occupying a tiny island split by the line separating the towns of Salem and Montville at the southern end of 529-acre (214 ha) Gardner Lake[3] in New London County, Connecticut, United States.[4] The 0.88-acre (0.36 ha) island is the smallest state park in Connecticut.[5] Writers working for the WPA in the 1930s described it as "a pine-grown knoll rising from the lake's depths."[6] It is accessible only via boat and offers opportunities for picnicking and fishing[4] as well as general exploration in a largely deserted setting.[7]


In the 19th century, the island was owned by a popular music teacher, the founder of Salem's Music Vale Seminary, Oramel Whittlesey (1801-1876). Whittlesey named the island for a niece nicknamed Minnie.[8] In the 1920s, the claims of squatters led to the discovery that although the island was claimed by both Salem and Montville, it was not on the tax rolls of either town.[7] In solving the dilemma, the state assembly rejected the squatters' proposed legislation, instead passing a law in 1925 that took possession of the island for the state and turned its management over to the state park's commission.[9]


The island has a steep shoreline with gray outcropped ledges that offers few opportunities for docking.[7] It rises approximately sixteen feet from the surface of Gardner Lake which lies at an elevation of 381 feet (116 m).[10] Its northern shore drops off into the deepest portion of Gardner Lake, some 36 feet (11 m).[3] The island is thickly forested with mountain laurel undergrowth amidst large red oaks. A clearing at the summit may be littered with the detritus of previous visitors. There are no facilities of any kind and no signage.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Minnie Island State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ 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 July 21, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b "Gardner Lake" (PDF). Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 13, 2015. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b "Minnie Island State Park". State Parks and Forests. Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  5. ^ Joseph Leary (2004). A Shared Landscape: A Guide & History of Connecticut's State Parks & Forests. Hartford, Conn.: Friends of the Connecticut State Parks, Inc. pp. 111–112. ISBN 0974662909. 
  6. ^ Workers of the Federal Writers' Project (1938). Connecticut: A Guide to Its Roads, Lore, and People. The American Guide Series. Cambridge, Mass.: The Riverside Press. p. 359. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d David K. Leff (December 2013). "Minnie Island" (PDF). Connecticut Woodlands. p. 12. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  8. ^ Cindy Lee Corriveau (2006). Salem. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing. p. 71. ISBN 978-0-7385-3945-4. 
  9. ^ "An act providing for the transfer of Minnie Island to the state". Public Acts Passed by the General Assembly. 1925. p. 7007. Retrieved July 21, 2016. 
  10. ^ "Gardner Lake". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 

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