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.
Today'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.
This 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)
This 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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