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Saving Land, Saving History
A mini-documentary series highlighting the ties between land preservation and local history.  

East Haddam Land Trust and East Haddam Historical Society joined forces to develop mini-documentaries and a museum display illustrating how land preservation often preserves local history.  Local award-winning producer/director Ken Simon created three mini-documentaries from historical photo archives, current video takes, and the knowledge of local historians and conservationists recounting how the land and rivers fit into the life of Moodus and East Haddam during the 1700s and 1800s. Two additional videos highlight the history of East Haddam Land Trust and the East Haddam Historical Society.
This mini-documentary series received a 2020 Tom Odell Distinguished Service Award from The Rockfall Foundation. The award honors long-term accomplishments in environmental conservation and preservation. The Land Trust’s 40 years of land preservation and the History of East Haddam Land Trust mini-documentary were cited as reasons for the award.
In 2021, East Haddam Land Trust received the Connecticut Land Conservation Council's Excellence in Conservation Organization Award in recognition of the Video Series and East Haddam Historical Society Museum Exhibit.
The Awards Committee cited the scope and quality of the project and the partnership with the local historical society as an important example of a collaborative project between community groups.
Learn More >>
Please join our mission to SAVE LAND and HISTORY by becoming a member.
East Haddam Land Trust History


Learn how East Haddam Land Trust came to be. Over the years, we collaborated with the Town of East Haddam, other local land trusts, and regional, state, and national conservation groups to protect some of East Haddam’s beautiful woodlands and waterways, and preserve some of the Town’s historic sites.

Since 1979, when our founders commenced this journey, East Haddam Land Trust worked with membership donations, land donations, hours and hours of volunteer labor, and regional, state, and federal grants to preserve and protect land in perpetuity for the public interest.

This mini-documentary honors:
  • our founders - Anita Ballek, Alan Birmingham, Martha Tonucci, Stephen Gephard, Richard H. Goodwin, Art Merrow, Judith L. Nicholas, Peggy Wilson, and Frank Wolcott.

  • the many individuals who volunteered as Board members and officers.

  • the volunteers who help maintain our preserves and help with events and programs.

  • those who so generously donated, or placed conservation easements on, their beloved land for the benefit of future generations of people and wildlife.

  • and, importantly, our members and donors who continue to allow East Haddam Land Trust to carry out its mission.

With your help - our current members, donors, and volunteers - this journey will continue.

The Bernstein Preserve
Feel the power of an 80-foot waterfall as it drowns out the sounds of the modern world. Imagine the mill workers who constructed the Falls and Atlantic Mills and made twine and duck cloth there.  
Though the mill buildings succumbed to fires, other structures remain. A rusted turbine, stonework, and headraces, tailraces, and a sluiceway that once directed water to and from the mills.
The Falls and Atlantic mills were the first two of a dozen water-powered mills that operated along the Moodus River from the 1820s through the 1930s.
The current paths at this 36-acre preserve pass through stands of ancient horsetail plants and quiet woods, and along a peaceful millpond.
Get directions and a trail map for the Bernstein Preserve. >>
Patrell Preserve/Chapal Farm
Walk atop eskers and around kettle ponds left by ancient glaciers and enjoy the sound of the Eightmile River from a 75-foot long footbridge. The footbridge connects the Patrell and Chapel Farm portions of this 109-acre preserve.
The preserve protects 3000 feet along the Eightmile River, a nationally-recognized Wild and Scenic Waterway. As part of the Lyme Forest Block Important Bird Area, this is a fantastic spot to observe migratory and overwintering birds.
The Chapal Farm section marks one end of the Goodwin Trail - a 14-mile hiking trail through deep woods, fields, and wetlands.
Get directions and a trail map for Patrell Preserve/Chapal Farm. >>
Hammond Mill Preserve
Here you can touch remnants of a built-by-hand dam and stroll along the headrace that directed water from the Eightmile River to two former mill sites. Imagine workers, 150-200 years ago, trudging each boulder and stone to the dam site that once powered a grist mill, a sawmill, a fulling mill, a blacksmith shop, and a flaxseed oil press into the early 1800s.
Early in the 1900s, Edward C. Hammond took over and refurbished the dam and millpond and used the site as a Boy Scout survival skills training camp.
Today the Preserve protects plant and animal life as part of the federally designated Eightmile River Wild and Scenic Watershed, one of only two such watersheds in Connecticut.
Get directions and a trail map for Hammond Mill Preserve. >>
About the project

The Saving Land, Saving History Project

This project a collaboration between the East Haddam Historical Society and East Haddam Land Trust commemorates the Land Trust's 40th year as a land conservation organization, 

The East Haddam Historical Society Museum, at 264 Town Street in East Haddam, developed a “Saving Land, Saving History” exhibit to complement the mini-documentaries shared here. The exhibit highlights some of the Land Trust's preserves and East Haddam's rivers and historic sites. The mini-documentaries are available through the Historical Society and Land Trust websites. We hope the mini-documentaries will enrich your visits to the Land Trust preserves, strengthen your understanding of the history of East Haddam, and increase your appreciation of the natural resources of the Eightmile River Wild and Scenic Watershed. 


The “Saving Land, Saving History” project was supported by generous grants from Connecticut Humanities and the Eightmile River Wild and Scenic Watershed Coordinating Committee. 


The project was further supported by East Haddam Historical Society and East Haddam Land Trust, two volunteer non-profit groups working to preserve the history and the natural spaces of East Haddam. Both groups greatly appreciate the work of Ken Simon and his collaborators as well as the many local residents who shared their knowledge to bring this project to life.

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