Ridgefield News
June 13, 1999



Walk Through Silvermine River Watershed

Silvermine Tavern June 13 -- The Norwalk River Watershed Association held one of its photography walks on this muggy Sunday afternoon. The walk, one of several the NRWA holds each year, was to explore the Silvermine River Subbasin. The Silvermine, which originates in Ridgefield and flows into the Norwalk river in Norwalk, is an important tributary to the larger river. A group of about a dozen people enjoyed the leisruely walk up and down the river in the Silvermine area, where Norwalk, Wilton, and New Canaan come together. The walk started at the Silvermine Tavern (photo, left). The Tavern complex consists of several buildings, some dating back to the 17th Century. This wooden structure overlooks one of the several falls dotting the Silvermine River in this area. A water wheel was once below the section of the building that juts out above the level of the falls.

Diane LauricellaToday's walk was led by Diane Lauricella [photo, right], one of the founders and first president of the Norwalk River Watershed Association, and by John Black Lee, architect and owner of a modernistic house beside the river ("Rivania"), which he showed to the group. The house was designed to minimize its impact on the river's environment. Diane is joined here by her friend Jeff [left], who is visiting from new Hampshire. Diane is extremely knowledgeable about environmental issues, having worked in pollution control for several years.

Silvermine TavernThis is the spot where Matthew Seymour built a sawmill in 1688, which passed into the hands of the Buttery family and stayed in operation into the 20th century, when it had the distinction of being the oldest continuously operating sawmill in the country. Its dam was swept away in the 1955 flood. (There's a very crude photo of the dam site, before and after the flood, on the NRWA web site)

Bridge over SilvermineThis picture is taken from just under the tavern, looking downstream towards the Perry Avenue bridge. Both the bridge and the dam at the Silvermine Tavern survived the 1955 flood, despite the surge of water that was released immediately upstream by the collapse of the Buttery Mill dam.

Silvermine River The Silvermine flows quietly through this flat stretch. Fish were seen all along the river. Brown Trout are stocked in the Silvermine, but several other species live naturally in the river.

Silvermine River Small rapids dot the river's course through the Silvermine area. These small rapids and riffles aerate the water, and are extremely important to the fish and other forms of animal life in the river. During the spring and summer, the oxygen in the river is often reduced by nitrogen from fertilizers that wash into the river from the yards of riverside properties.

NRWA tour group The Perry Avenue bridge over the Silvermine River. The group studies the wildlife (many fish and birds) and the old buildings beside the river. Just a couple blocks from here is the Silvermine Guild of Artists, the center of an artists' community in the early 1900's and now a place where art courses are taught and works of art are sold.

Falls at Tavern Dam at the Silvermine Tavern. Fish from the Norwalk Harbor can swim up the river only to this point. They use an old fish ladder to circumvent the dam at Davis Pond, slightly downstream from here.

Silvermine River The Silvermine is about 75 feet across at this point. A very placid spot, slightly upstream from the Silvermine Tavern. We found the shell of a fresh-water clam here.

Visit the Norwalk River Watershed Association Web Site

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Brought to you by the Ridgefield, Ct. Democratic Town Committee, Rudy Marconi, Chairman
Paid for by The Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee, Edwin C. Pearson, Treasurer

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