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January 2009 - Posts

  • Press Release - Archaeological site in Barkhamsted earns State Archaeological Preserve designation.

    Press Release

    Archaeological site in Barkhamsted earns State Archaeological Preserve designation.

    Barkhamsted, CT, January 15, 2009:  

      On December 3, 2008 the Connecticut Historic Preservation Council designated the Lighthouse Archaeological Site, located in People’s State Forest, Barkhamsted, Connecticut, as a State Archaeological Preserve.

      The Lighthouse site is the location of the legendary “Barkhamsted Lighthouse,” home of James Chaugham, a Narragansett Indian, and his wife Molly, a woman of European descent.  They were early settlers in Barkhamsted, probably coming to the town in the 1770s. One version of the Barkhamsted Lighthouse Legend tells of stagecoach drivers on the Albany to Hartford route passing the cabin at night after traveling a long stretch of the journey through desolate forest.  Seeing the faint light from Chaugham’s cabin, they would announce to the passengers, “there’s the Lighthouse, five more miles to port!”  The “port” referred to by the driver was New Hartford, the next stop on the route, where passengers could get refreshment and take a break from the bumpy ride. 

    The Lighthouse site is an important part of Barkhamsted history not only for the popular legends, but also because the community that became established there was a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic group of Native American, African American, and Euro-American settlers that lived a different life than that of most of the other residents of the town.  The Lighthouse community persisted until the mid-1800s.  All that is left now are a few small cellar holes and a tiny cemetery with simple grave markers.          

          In 1990, Central Connecticut University archaeology professor Ken Feder conducted field work at the Lighthouse site and later published the book A Village of Outcasts on his findings.  The site was nominated and approved for the National Register of Historic Places.  Feder was instrumental in initiating the process to designate the site as an archaeological preserve.  The approval of the Lighthouse Archaeological Site as a State Archaeological Preserve is an important development because it recognizes the significance of this historic location and will foster the continued preservation of the site with an additional level of protection, including significant fines for unauthorized excavation or other disturbances.  The site is part of the People’s Forest and is administered by the State Department of Environmental Protection.

     The Barkhamsted Historical Society is pleased that the Lighthouse Community site has been designated as a State Archaeological Preserve.  The Historical Society plans to seek funding for a study and further research at the site.  The goal is to publish a booklet on the Lighthouse Community that will document and enhance the interpretation of this important part of Barkhamsted history.

    For additional information see the Barkhamsted Historical Society website at http://barkhamstedhistory.org .

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