Farmington River: Wild & Scenic
In this Area in the Past.....
Since the 1820's Riverton has been a vibrant part of the town of Barkhamsted.
Riverton is located at the confluence of the Farmington and Still Rivers, which
at one time provided the opportunity for water power sites for early mills and
factories. One of Barkhamsted's most historic spots is the former Hitchcock Chair
factory, where Lambert Hitchcock produced his famous chairs starting in the
mid-1820s. Many other mills were located here, including sawmills, a grist mill,
a scythe shop, a calico factory and a paper mill. Several inns catered to both local
residents and passengers on stage coach lines that passed through the village.
Since 1909, Riverton Fair has drawn thousands to its midway and exhibits that
reflect the agricultural background of the area.
The Eagle Scythe shop was located on what is now the lower part of the Riverton
Fairgrounds, opposite the Grange Hall. The scythe shop operated from 1849 to the
mid-1880's. In addition to scythes, other edged tools were produced, including corn
knives, hay knives and grass hooks. The business office was housed in the white building.
One mile south of Riverton, on East River Road, there is a bronze marker. According to
local legend, James Chaugham, a Narragansett Indian, married Molly
English settler's daughter. Together they raised a large family on the side of the mountain.
The light coming from their cabins guided stage coach drivers down the old Farmington
Turnpike, and this became known as The Barkhamsted Lighthouse. The Jesse Gerard
Trail, one of many trails in Peoples State Forest, begins near the bronze marker and
continues up the mountain; an excellent hike with panoramic views of the river valley.