The History of Higganum

Early families of Higganum Village included Brainerds, Baileys, Spencers, Skinners and Smiths who were attracted to the area by water-power. It is in Higganum where three significant brooks, Candlewood Hill Brook, Ponsett Brook and Bible Rock Brook merge and form the Higganum River.

By 1678 there was already a gristmill along the river and by the early 19th century there were close to 27 mills and manufacturers along these water sources, including tanneries, sawmills, oakum factories and feldspar mills. The D & H Scovil Hoe Company began operation in 1844, manufacturing hammers, gun barrels and planters hoes and exported their goods world wide. They became a significant employer in Higganum as did Clark Cutaway Harrow, manufacturers of farming implements.

In the mid-19th century, immigrants from eastern and northern Europe came to Higganum to work in the factories and Higganum became the commercial center of town. During the prosperous days of Higganum, residents tried to incorporate as a separate town but were denied by the State Legislature. Most of the industries had closed by the mid-20th century and Haddam and Higganum have become residential bedroom communities with the population traveling to Middletown, Hartford or New Haven to work.

Higganum Landing along the river became a successful river port and shipbuilding center. The Kelly and Child shipbuilding operations at the Landing were the largest in Haddam and there were warehouses, which carried out business with merchants in major cities including Boston, New York and Philadelphia. Timber, granite and fish were in abundance in early Higganum and were important early exports. The Landing shipyards built boats, including schooners, sloops and brigs participated in coastal trade as well as West Indian trade. Shipbuilding declined by the mid-19th century and the Landing area is now residential, with little evidence of its heyday as a major river port.