CTMQ Dubious Claims List

Really? Come on now.
CTMQ Dubious Claims List

I should have started this page years ago. After all, I’ve come across several claims about things in Connecticut being the first or oldest or largest or some other superlative that have struck me as dubious at best. Some of these bold claims I love to seek out and write about – with gusto! But some… Some are just too impossible to believe. I want this page to involve YOU, so please feel free to let me know of any others you’ve seen in print either in the comments or via email.


In no particular order*, I’ll begin a list. And I’ll perhaps solicit answers from people who are in positions to know and have a companion page of Answers. That sounds like fun.

*The first two having to do with rivers is merely coincidence, but I read both within weeks and it sparked the idea to put this page together.


both590dz1. “The Farmington River is the only river to flow in all four cardinal directions in the Northern Hemisphere, “ so says the Farmington River Watershed Association.

Really? Come on now. Okay, it definitely flows south from its source in Massachusetts and then takes an interesting turn north in Farmington before turning sharply east at Tarriffville before its mouth at the Connecticut in Windsor. Where is the western portion? Sure, it meanders west for a hundred yards or so in Simsbury but…

In the northern hemisphere? Like the mighty Mississip and the Missouri (to name but two) don’t meander in all four cardinal directions? What am I missing here?


2. “The Park (Hog) River, encased in over 9 miles of concrete conduits, is America’s largest underground waterway,” so says Joe McCarthy and Peter Albano of the Hog River Revival Project. I won’t link where I read it first (the Hartford Public Library’s ArtWalk site) because it won’t last long as a viable link. Hopefully this one will, from their successful KickStarter campaign where they say it again. Twice.

I might buy this picture of Park River canoeing from this guy

Really? Come on now. Well, 5 minutes of Internetting did not disprove this claim, so this might not be as dubious as it sounds. Am I just including this as a way to get invited on a Park River expedition? Yeah, probably. HMU, guyzz!

(Here’s a nice wrap-up of the rather interesting Park River history)


3. “West Hartford has more Whole Foods per capita than anywhere else on earth,” a claim I’ve heard several times; both in mocking and in reverential tones.

Really? Come on now. Disclosure: I’ve actually said this one myself a few times, believing that it must be true. Simply because of the way we ended up with two Whole Foods’s: Cheese ‘n Stuff is adored by West End Hartfordites, gets bought by Wild Oats, Wild Oats screws the West End by moving to Bishop’s Corner in West wholefoods_logoHarford, Wild Oats gets bought by Whole Foods, Whole Foods opens new gleaming store in new gleaming “downtown” West Hartford with plans on closing former Wild Oats outpost, people go organic free trade bananas and now we have two Whole Foods’s in West Hartford. Fine. Okay.

There were 63,268 residents as of the 2010 census. My math tells me that’s 1 Whole Foods for every 31,634 West Hartfordites. So… What do you think?

It took me about 9 seconds to debunk the claim. I almost did with the Whole Foods 15 minutes away in Glastonbury, with just over 34,000 residents. My next try was Darien, because I knew there was a store there. Population: 20,732.

Crushed it.

I then went on to find another to better my sample size… Mill Valley, CA…The population was 13,903 in 2010.


Now, of course there are all sorts of parameters to this claim. Maybe they meant “of towns with multiple sites”, I don’t know. But if that’s the case, qualify that claim people. I started searching through the Whole Foods site to find not-large towns with more than one store, but man, there are way more Whole Foods stores infecting the earth than I thought. Screw this.


4. “New Hartford purposely misspelled ‘Satan’s Kingdom Rd’ as ‘Statan’s Kingdom Rd’ to dissuade thievery.” Claimed by me.

And how cool is it that I got a picture of it? As you can imagine, this street sign is stolen quite often. I pass it pretty frequently on route 44 and used to keep track of its appearances and disappearances, but that became redundant and impossible. Then one day, this:


I figured it HAD to be purposeful, but I never checked into it. It was, of course, stolen even faster than the normal signs.

More: My page on Satan’s Kingdom


5. “Hartford Public Library is the only public building in the, let’s say WORLD, with a highway and a river running underneath it.” I made this claim too. I don’t know how or who will fact check it, but I hope it’s true. Because it’s pretty rad.

The steel and glass above is the library, the bridge is actually the original Park River bridge, you see the highway there and the river is actually under the highway. I think.

It is an absolute fact that the submerged Park River and the Whitehead Highway go underneath the library. Whether or not any other building shares this distinction is the question.

Bring it on, Intertubes.

10 responses to “CTMQ Dubious Claims List”

  1. Jordan says:

    Now do “World’s first two sided building” using sites that don’t originate in Hartford.

  2. chris says:

    As for the street sign, just contact the local public works (but that ruins all the fun I guess) I cant speak of Statan, but I have delivered to 6 different town garages, and I was told twice that they misspelled a sign to prevent theft.

  3. chris says:

    A google search of “Subterranean rivers” gives several examples. here is a list which includes the Park (and the same pic you posted) If they are in order of length, then several are, unfortunately no measurements are given


    also found this one which claims 170 miles…

  4. chris says:

    Boston big dig has several bridge river building intersections. Copley Place has a Mall and hotel.
    New York has a few also.

  5. Twelve Mile Circle says:

    Here’s hoping this page climbs high enough on Google’s page rank to come up at the top of any search. Debunking claims passed along as “fact” for many years will take a long time.

  6. Steve says:

    Jordan – I have the Boat Building claim lined up for my next 5. I’ve always found that one odd.

    Chris – thanks, I am am familiar with the Boston and Chicago river/highway underpasses. Maybe I’ll reframe it as “public library.”

    Tom – we’ve got time.

  7. Steve says:

    Chris – I checked a few of the NatGeo rivers out last week and none were longer than the Park’s 9 miles. The second link, about the Salinas River, is cool but the Park’s claim is that it is an engineered underground river, not natural.

  8. Brad G says:

    If I’m understanding the question… my understanding of the Park River was that the only underground part was from Bushnell Park out to the CT River – definitely not 9 miles. What other parts are underground that are included in the “9 miles?”

  9. January First-of-May says:

    On the Farmington River claim: forget northern hemisphere, it isn’t even the only one in Connecticut! Specifically, Bantam River has fairly long stretches in all four directions (in fact they appear to be longer than those of Farmington).

    On the Whole Foods claim: I might be misreading the site, but it appears Mill Valley has two :-) which would make it pretty much off the competition at less than 10,000 inhabitants per store.

    On other random Connecticut claims: Stamford is supposedly the only city in the US which has the same other state as the closest in all four cardinal directions (it’s been fairly well covered on Twelve Mile Circle some time ago; basically, Carter Lake (Iowa) fits much better, but it’s far smaller, and barely counts as a “city”).

  10. January First-of-May says:

    Update on the whole Farmington River thing:
    It appears I misunderstood the location of Bantam River.
    Indeed, when it comes to meanders in Connecticut rivers, the Farmington wins in absolute scale. Many other minor rivers meander much more relative to their size (notably Scantic River).
    On large scale, the best US fit I could find was Columbia River (yes, it’s not fully in the US, but the US part is more than enough).
    Fun fact: the Moskva River (in Russia) manages to flow in all four cardinal directions, for stretches of more than a kilometer each, within the borders of the same-named Russian city (which is barely the size of Greater Hartford, and 60% of that is newly-added land very far from the river). And why I’m mentioning it? Because this happens to be the city I live in :-)

Leave a Comment

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism