Shoddy Mill Preserve
Glastonbury Town Park
77 acres in Glastonbury, CT
Parking: Shoulder parking near 111 Shoddy Mill Road Glastonbury, CT
I started hiking Shoddy Mill on the West Trail following the trail next to Roaring Brook. The trail crosses over a gas pipeline which was thriving with life but clear near the end of summer. It awkwardly forks as it heads uphill and I took the left path into the pines. This area is one of those special grove types that really makes you appreciate your surroundings.
An unexpected path not on the map broke off to the left and I decided to follow it for exploration’s sake. The path crosses coon hollow on a homemade network of boards and recycled wood to cross a wet area. This unmarked trail then passed rusting (but functional) farm equipment, some kind of tiny man-made pond with a pump, and dead ended at a pile of tennis balls in the woods near Sachem Drive. I assume this trail provides access to the Minnechaug Swim and Tennis Club and perhaps houses in the area.
Back on the West Trail I followed the loop as it climbed up a ridge again with trails branching off, likely to more private property. The ridge provides a nice seasonal view southeast, but only of the next ridge. The trail follows the ridge until it reconnects at the original fork. There is treacherous access to the dam ruins below, but there are best viewed from the east trail.
The east trail is a bit further south along Shoddy Mill Rd. Some tree cutting had happened recently during my last visit but I was able to find the entrance easily enough. The path is less used, but easy to follow with a couple options to reach the ruins. What remains of the dam is a massive work of stone that stretches for a couple hundred feet and is largely in great condition. Though it is long enough that it is difficult to get a view of the whole thing.
From the town’s site, Shoddy Mill, “was acquired by the town in the late 1960’s as part of an overall plan to create a greenbelt along Roaring Brook. Interesting features include the beautifully constructed Shoddy Mill dam, and a high gravel ridge paralleling the brook to the west. The mill produced “shoddy” (reclaimed wool, usually made from rags, which can be processed into felt or fabric of inferior quality.”
And from Peter Marteka’s article,
According to Marjorie Grant McNulty’s book “Glastonbury From Settlement to Suburb,” the Shoddy Mill once manufactured shoddy or reprocessed wool. Even back in the 1800s, recycling was a part of manufacturing and a cheap way to make a product. Shoddy was an inferior woolen yarn made from fibers taken from used fabrics and reprocessed.
“Over a period of 65 years,” the book reads, “men from the Crosby Manufacturing Company would go to the mill to grind woolen waste of different colors into a dark blue product from which a woolen yarn was spun.” Operations at the mill ceased in 1906 and it was turned into a tenement house complete with a swimming pool
Peter Marteka – A Trip Into Glastonbury’s Past At Shoddy Mill (2012)
Steve at CTMQ – Not Too Shoddy, Shoddy Mill Preserve