Wadsworth Falls State Park

Wadsworth Falls State Park

Related posts on CTMQ:

Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate
Col. C.S. Wadsworth Living Museum/Rockfall Foundation
Middletown Heritage Trail – featuring the deKoven House and the Jehosophat Starr mentioned below

From what I gather, the Wadsworth responsible for this park (and the attendant other places above) has nothing at all to do with the Wadsworth of the Wadsworth Atheneum fame. But that shouldn’t diminish the guy – after all, he left his mark from one end of Middletown to the other – in the truest geographical sense. For this park is in extreme southwest Middletown and his Rockfall Foundation (in the building of one of his homes) is in extreme northeastern Middletown.

I’ve been to this place a couple times, but I must admit that at the time of this writing, I haven’t yet had the chance to swim in the pond there nor see both falls. But I will get to both and update this page, I promise.

Below is the park’s decription from the DEP. Especially interesting is the “swimming pool” which I described as a pond just now:

Clarence C. Wadsworth, noted scholar and linguist, had held the rank of Colonel in the New York National Guard before marrying and settling in Middletown. There he became involved in a forty-year effort to preserve the natural beauty of Wadsworth Falls for all people. By his will which established The Rockfall Corporation, a non-profit organization to administer his plans for the land, the 267 acres were given to the State in 1942.

The Coginchaug River, flowing north along the western fringe of the park has been an important stream providing industrial waterpower. Only the sluiceway of a textile mill remains by Wadsworth Falls in the southwest corner of the park. Nearby, one of the first pistol factories in Connecticut was operated during the 1800′s by Simeon North, developer of the interchangeable parts system for firearms used in the Civil War.

Gunpowder was made at the factory established by Jehosophat Starr at Powder Mill Pond in 1794, until the business literally blew up in 1892. Today, the waters of this pond are used as a reserve to replenish the Bone Mill Pond below.

The swimming pool, a saucer-shaped basin hollowed out of the level plain south of Route 157, is paved with a soil cement to prevent water from leaching out. Water pumped from a series of inter-connected wells located near the river is directed into the pool creating a circulating effect.

There is a level walk from the parking area on Cherry Hill Road, off Route 157, to the brink of the falls. A trail system connects the falls with the main swimming/picnicking area and other scenic areas of the park. From a stone bridge used by the Colonel, the trail passes through densely wooded areas, the Little Falls and several meandering streams.

There’s a story behind this seemingly idiotic sign. A very sad story – where people died at Hammonassett in Madison in the pavilion during a thunderstorm. So I guess this is the state protecting themselves or something.

Others may wish to explore or fish the cold waters of the Coginchaug River. Here, beneath great hemlocks and noble oaks, nature provides her own air-conditioning. Wadsworth Falls was designated as a park in 1942.

Who knew the state could be so poetic with that last little bit? Anyway, here’s the write-up from a visit Damian and I did back on a freezing cold day in January 2009.

Totally WadsWorthy to See
Wadsworth Falls, Middletown

January 2, 2009

wfb.jpgMy first CTMQ visit of 2009… and she’s a beaut. I had a day off with Damian while Hoang had to work and his daycare was closed. What to do, what to do… Go check out a half frozen waterfall of course!

Amazingly, I’d never been to Wadsworth Falls State Park – it’s one of those places that people can’t believe I’ve never been to. Well, now I have; if only a tiny swath of it and for only ten minutes. But it’s surely the coolest swath – and that counts on my blog. (Though, admittedly, I only saw the “Big Falls” and not the “Little Falls” a few minutes up the path. The path which, on this day, was icy and I was carrying a toddler. You see my reasoning.)

The main entrance to Wadsworth Falls State Park is along Route 157 in Middletown. There is also a parking area for Wadsworth Falls located along Cherry Hill Rd which I think is just over the Middlefield town line. Above the falls are the remains of an old sluiceway or flume that once carried the mighty Coginchaug River through the bowels of the Fall Manufacturing Company’s Cotton Factory. Manufacturers at mills along the river produced everything from paper to grist to snuff to cutting nails to buttons to washing machines wringers, gun parts and gun powder.


From this site: The height of Wadsworth Falls is really not very impressive. At only 15 feet high, this falls is dwarfed in height by most of the other Connecticut waterfalls. However, there are few waterfalls in Connecticut that match its power. Wadsworth Falls looks like a miniature Niagara Falls in that it is much wider than it is high and it has a large volume of water passing over it. Even in drier times, the falls is pretty full. In the spring or after a good rain, the Coginchaug can pour over the falls in a furious torrent.

wf.jpgNamed after Col. Clarence Wadsworth, the previous owner of the falls, the falls are located in a corner of Wadsworth Falls State Park. Most of the park is taken up with trails, picnic areas, and a large swimming hole. In fact, the main entrance to the park is on the other side of the park from the falls. However, the secondary parking area for the falls makes it easy and free to view the falls. On one side of the falls is a large shaded grassy area where the falls can be viewed from different angles. There’s even a little walkway out to a point directly above the falls. The area makes a great place to picnic. On the other side of the falls are many tall trees on a steep incline up to railroad tracks. The wall that the trees and the slope provide make the falls seem initimate than most river falls.

Although there is absolutely no swimming above or below the falls because of strong currents, fishermen are often seen trying to pluck trout out of the deep and fast-moving waters below the falls. However, the park land ends just around the bend where a gunsmithy has been converted into a private home so there isn’t much room to fish.

I’m sure I’ll explore the park more in depth someday, but if it’s during the summer, I’ll be sure to park off of Cherry Hill Road because it’s free there. Who in their right mind would pay the 8 bucks or whatever to park a mile away at the same park?


Geology of the park
The Little Falls
Photoshopping the falls
3D’ing the falls

Back to CTMQ’s State Parks and Forests page

One response to “Wadsworth Falls State Park”

  1. Peter says:

    Wadsworth falls is amazing, I hope I can visit there sometime.

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