The Thimble Islands

Excerpted from Wikipedia’s “Thimble Islands”

One of Connecticut’s most unique features is an archipelago of islands which can be seen from the shore of Stony Creek on the southeast corner of Branford, CT, minutes from New Haven. These islands were formed as a result of an ice age glacier melting, changing a green valley into the Long Island Sound. On the Connecticut side, the melting exposed mounds of pink granite which became the bedrock of stability for the many Thimble Islands as we know them today.

A rest stop for migrating seals, the Thimble Islands number between 100 and 365, depending on where the line is drawn between and island and a mere rock. The islands were first discovered by Adrian Block in 1614. Legend says that the infamous Captain Kidd buried his treasure here, although many intrepid treasure hunters have yet to uncover it! The islands were known to the Mattabeeseck Indians as Kuttomquosh, “the beautiful sea rocks”.

Long prized by sailors as a sheltered deep-water anchorage, 23 of the islands are inhabited with a total of 81 houses between them. Only six islands get electrical power through underwater cables from the shore, the rest use some combination of generator, solar power, batteries or kerosene and propane. About half the islands get fresh water through underwater pipes from the shore, the rest use wells or rainwater or have containers of water delivered. No sewers serve the islands, all sewage is treated by septic tanks.

Newsworthy & Notable

Horse Island is the largest island, at 17 acres. It is owned by Yale University and maintained as an ecological laboratory by Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History.

Outer Island is the farthest away from shore. It is a Stewart McKinney National Wildlife Refuge that is used by Southern Connecticut State University for ecological studies.

Money Island (12 acres) has the most homes (32) and a library.

Governor’s Island (10 acres, 14 Houses) is owned by Gary Trudeau and Jane Pauley.

Davis Island was used as a “Summer White House” for two years by President William Taft.

Bear Island is home to a granite quarry that exported high-quality stone used in the Lincoln Memorial, Grant’s Tomb and the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Lewis Island is remembered in “Reflections in Bullough’s Pond” by Diana Muir as a part of the nineteenth century oyster farming industry that thrived around these islands

Amscan (party goods) magnate John Svenningsen purchased West Crib Island in 1976. Subsequent to his death in 1997, his widow Christine purchased Wheeler Island (1998), Rogers Island, also known as Phelps Island or Yom Comis Island (2003), Jepson Island (2003), Cut In Two East Island (2003), Reel Island (2004), Beldens Island (2006), and East Crib Island (2007) at a total cost of more than 36 million dollars.