2002 Summer Season

Litchfield, CT -- Contact: Janet L. Serra For Immediate Release 860-567-4506 lhcvbnwct@aol.com Once upon a time, the bucolic Litchfield Hills of Northwestern Connecticut were known throughout the land as a center of America's iron industry. The iron for the railroad wheels that opened up the west came from the Blackberry River Valley, the nation's largest producer of high quality iron. The Annual Blackberry River Walk at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 24 celebrates this heritage with a scenic walk to bring the "Age of Iron" to life. Sponsored by the Friends of the Beckley Furnace and the Upper Housatonic Valley Heritage Area, the 1.2-mile walk will begin at the white steepled East Canaan Congregational Church and feature local historians at several points on the route to provide colorful background and answer questions. At the 1822 Church, Crystal Carlson will introduce "East Canaan Lore" and Prof. Robert Gordon of Yale will talk on "A Landscape Transformed". A short walk down Lower Road at the 1869 Beckley Office Building, Anthony Cantele will describe the ironworks and current plans to develop it as an educational center. Next door to the office is the 1847 Beckley Iron Furnace, which produced iron from 1847 until 1919. Its highly regarded iron was used for weapons, tools, and structures as well as train wheels. Ed Kirby, Walt Landgraf and Bill Adam will be on hand to provide new insights on the workings of the furnace, and the special iron-making heritage that actually began as early as 1739 in this region. New descriptive signs have been added at the Furnace, which is owned by the Connecticut Dept. of Environmental Protection and operated jointly by the Dept. of Environmental Protection and the Friends of the Beckley Furnace. The $5 donation requested from walkers will be used for further restoration and to support the effort to have the region named a "National Heritage Area" by the National Park Service. Parking is available at the Congregational Church near Route 44 in East Canaan and transportation will be provided to other sites for those unable to make the walk. For more information on special packages and a free copy of UNWIND, a 40-page color guide to lodging, dining and all the attractions in the area, write to the Litchfield Hills Visitors Bureau, P.O. Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, call (860) 567-4506 or visit their web site at www.litchfieldhills.com.