Duncan Preserve​

This 19.4-acre property overlooks portions of Main Street, East Haddam and has seasonal views of the Connecticut River and the hills of Haddam. The history of this property goes back to the earliest settlement of East Haddam - around 1670 - when settlers of Haddam looked east for better land. A few settlers moved to the area along Creek Row, the first road in town. Family names synonymous with East Haddam's past and present - Ackley, Arnold, Bailey, Brainerd, Brooks, Clarke, Cone, Gates, Shayler, two Spencers, two Smiths, Ventres, and Wells among others - settled here.

 

About the time of the Revolutionary War, William Gelston built the first Episcopal church, the predecessor of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church currently located on Main Street. The outline of the original church foundation is still visible along one of the trails and there is evidence that the cut granite foundation stones were quarried nearby.

The property remained in the Gelston family until sold to William Duncan, who had wed Rebeccah Gelston. The Duncans planned to build on the site until the stock market crash of 1929 downsized their dreams of a mansion to the reality of refurbishing the existing pigsty into a summer cottage. The Duncan's daughter, Dorothy, lived in the cottage until her death when the undeveloped portion of the property was sold to the Connecticut River Gateway Commission which, in turn, donated the property to the East Haddam Land Trust.

        

Land trust volunteers created loop trails from the parking area at the junction of Porges Road and Creek Row that wind through mixed hardwood forest to points overlooking the Connecticut River. Trails, steep in some parts, cross a small stream and pass the historic foundation stones.

 
Duncan Preserve
Duncan Preserve

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Quarry remnants
Quarry remnants

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Blue trail at Duncan Preserve
Blue trail at Duncan Preserve

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Duncan Preserve
Duncan Preserve

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Download our Duncan Preserve trail map with trails, driving directions, and more.
Note: the white trail is closed as of the summer of 2020