Rocky Neck State Park

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Rocky Neck State Park
Connecticut State Park
Rocky Neck Pavillion View Kevin Pepin.jpg
View from pavilion at Rocky Neck
Country  United States
State  Connecticut
County New London
Town East Lyme
Elevation 59 ft (18 m) [1]
Coordinates 41°18′36.0108″N 72°14′42.9421″W / 41.310003000°N 72.245261694°W / 41.310003000; -72.245261694Coordinates: 41°18′36.0108″N 72°14′42.9421″W / 41.310003000°N 72.245261694°W / 41.310003000; -72.245261694
Area 710 acres (287 ha)
Established 1931
Management Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Location in Connecticut
Website: Rocky Neck State Park
Rocky Neck Pavilion
Rocky Neck Pavillion Kevin Pepin.jpg
Location Lands End Point, Rocky Neck State Park, East Lyme, Connecticut
Area 6.5 acres (2.6 ha)
Built 1934
Architect Barker, Russell F., et al.
Architectural style Rustic
MPS Connecticut State Park and Forest Depression-Era Federal Work Relief Programs Structures TR
NRHP Reference # 86001745[2]
Added to NRHP September 4, 1986
View from Tony's Nose Overlook at Rocky Neck

Rocky Neck State Park is a 710-acre (290 ha) state park and beach on Long Island Sound in the town of East Lyme, Connecticut.[3] Its 356-foot timber-and-granite pavilion is the largest Depression-era structure in the state.[4] The park traces its beginnings to 1931, when a few conservationists secured the land from being sold, using their own money until the state legislature authorized its purchase.[5][6]

The park has its own exit (exit 72) on the Connecticut portion of Interstate 95. This exit is for the Rocky Neck connector, which is designated as the unsigned Connecticut Special Service Road 449.[7]


Bounded on the west by a tidal river and to the east by a broad salt marsh, Rocky Neck was known to early inhabitants as a place of abundant fish and wildlife. Today, high spring tides allow schools of herring to swim into Bride Brook toward inland spawning grounds. The osprey is a frequent early summer visitor. In the fall, cranes, herons and swans wade among cattails and rose mallow[disambiguation needed]. Seasonal changes provide opportunities to fish for mackerel, striped bass, blackfish and flounder.


The Ellie Mitchell Pavilion is a Rustic-style building completed in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration, a Depression-era relief program. Designed by Russell F. Barker and others, the curved masonry building stands more than 350 feet (110 m) long and 80 feet (24 m) wide.[8]

Construction began in the early 1930s as part of an effort to ease crowding at Hammonasset State Park. Much of its timber and granite were drawn from local suppliers and quarries, and from an abandoned fish fertilizer plant on the grounds.[8] Supporting pillars were fashioned from trees cut from each of the state parks and forests.[5] The pavilion was handed over to the state in October 1936[9] and opened as the Ellie Mitchell Pavilion. Visitors could purchase food, eat in the dining areas, and warm themselves by eight fireplaces during cooler months.[8]

In 1986, the pavilion and its surrounding 6.5 acres (2.6 ha) were listed on the National Register of Historic Places.[2]


The park is crossed by the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak's main line from New York to Boston, on a right-of-way first chartered in 1848 by the New Haven and New London Railroad. A 1934 footbridge carries pedestrians over the tracks between the pavilion and its parking lot. The 36-foot (11 m) arched steel bridge has been documented by the Historic American Engineering Record, which describes it as "an unusual surviving example of a railroad footbridge."[4]

Activities and amenities[edit]

The park offers picnicking, saltwater fishing, and saltwater swimming. Diverse trails within the park provide walks to the salt marsh and to such points of interest as Baker's Cave, Tony's Nose and Shipyard. There are 160 wooded and open campsites offering vacationers overnight accommodations. A small nature center is near the camping sites. The nature center, open seasonally, features small local animals and natural history displays and offers interpretive programs including trail walks and astronomy nights.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Rocky Neck Pavilion". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. 
  2. ^ a b Staff (2009-03-13). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^ "Shoreline: Rocky Neck State Park, East Lyme". Connecticut Office of Culture & Tourism. 
  4. ^ a b Adams, Virginia H.; Kierstaad, Matthew A. "Rocky Neck Park Trail Bridge" (PDF). Historic American Engineering Record. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress. Retrieved January 27, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Rocky Neck State Park". State Parks and Forests. Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. Retrieved February 5, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Local Landmarks: Rocky Neck State Park". East Lyme Historical Society. 
  7. ^ "Secret Route List". Connecticut Roads. Kurumi. 
  8. ^ a b c "Abundant Wildlife Drives the History of Rocky Neck State Park". Connecticut Humanities. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Connecticut State Parks". Hartford Courant. Retrieved October 7, 2013. 

External links[edit]