Killingly is a town in quiet Eastern Connecticut in a landscape of ponds and woodland that was once humming with industry.
Brooks tumbling through Killingly supplied energy to iron furnaces and textile mills, and you can visit the places where these factories stood at state and town parks.
In the borough of Danielson there’s a historic district on Main Street where the imposing commercial buildings from the 19th and early-20th century are holdovers from those industrial days when Killingly was one of the busiest communities in the state.
Let’s explore the best things to do in and around Killingly:
1. Old Furnace State Park
As you may gather from the name, this scenic state park has a busy industrial past as the setting for a former iron furnace.
From the 18th-century streams and rivers across New England were harnessed to drive mills.
Horseshoes were forged on this site for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, and all of the resources for the furnace were gathered locally: Iron ore came from Eastern Connecticut swamps, while charcoal was sourced from the old-growth forests that cloaked New England.
Today the three-mile Blue-Blazed Old Furnace Trail weaves through this land from the parking lot off Route 6 at the north end.
This path will take you past the two man-made ponds and lift you to a craggy overlook at 61 meters where you can survey Lower Ross Pond and a piece of Rhode Island.
2. Black Pond Brews
Everything about this craft brewery in a brick and clapboard building is small and pared down.
Black Pond Brews makes a variety of beers, often with creative little twists.
Bare Branches is a German-style lager with maple syrup, Sun Gate is a Porter brewed with Peruvian coffee and the Saison, Machu Picchu’s tangy bite comes from real jalapeños.
At the compact, unassuming taproom there are eight, constantly rotating beers on tap.
This is open Thursday to Monday, hosting trivia on Mondays, open songwriter sessions every third Saturday of the month, and other fun like videogame tournaments, as well as the German-themed Oktoberfest in autumn.
3. Danielson Main Street Historic District
Towards the end of the 19th century Danielson in Killingly was one of the busiest communities in the east of Connecticut, on the back of a textile industry that was opened up to the rest of the country by the railroads.
The Danielson Main Street Historic District is a snapshot from that period, covering 20 acres and containing 40 buildings, most raised between 1850 and 1920. These are mostly brick-built commercial buildings but also include civic and religious monuments, all ranging in style from Italianate (1870s) to Romanesque Revival (1890s), Colonial Revival (1900s) and the Commercial Style (1920s). On a walk check out Killingly Town Hall (1876), the Attawaugan Hotel (1856), the Cyr Block (1893), the Evans Block (1878), Danielson Fire Station (1908) and the Bugbee Memorial Library (1901).
4. Cat Hollow Town Park
Killingly’s newest park only opened in 2003 and is a prized spot for walks in dense mixed woodland along the banks of the fast-flowing Whetstone Brook.
Since Killingly was first settled by Europeans the brook has been used for industry, and Cat Hollow Park is the site of two former mills.
The Sayles and Sabin Mill was converted from a sawmill to textiles in the mid-19th century, while further along, the Killingly Worsted Mill has its origins in the 1860s and was adapted for fine cashmeres in 1889. A haunting reminder from this mill survives in the form of pond, dam and waterfall.
5. Logee’s Greenhouses
The easiest way to describe Logee’s Greenhouses is as a botanical garden where almost all the plants are for sale.
Consisting of six thrilling greenhouses and a retail shop, Logee’s Greenhouses has been in business since 1892 and boasts some plants that have been growing since before that time.
In the Lemon Tree House, you’ll be met by the “Ponderosa” lemon tree, which has been here since 1900 and produces lemons as large as grapefruits.
In the Big House is a 150-year-old orange tree with 10 different grafts.
Also in this space are geraniums, camellias, succulents and cactuses.
There are magical blooming begonias in the Long House, all sorts of medicinal and culinary plant in the Herb House, while the Fern House has been around since the company was founded in 1892.
6. Owen Bell Park
The sort of outdoor space every town needs, Owen Bell Park in Dayville was remodelled not long ago and abounds with active things to do for all ages.
There’s a winding walking trail, a soccer field, a skatepark, a baseball field, tennis courts, basketball courts, picnic areas and playgrounds for different age groups.
Hoy summer days are made a bit more fun for kids by a splashpad with an assortment of fountains and sprays.
The people of Dayville and communities around also gathers at Owen Bell Park for a Fourth of July fireworks display, accompanied by music.
7. Quinebaug Lake State Park
This 181-acre space is visited for the lake that covers its northern two thirds, offering non-motorized boating and fishing.
Fed by the brook of the same name, Quinebaug Lake is natural, but was made larger with a dam at its outlet.
You’ll find a boat launch at the northern end, and little trails leading to the banks for anglers.
This is a bass/catfish management lake, and you can fish for largemouth and smallmouth bass from the second Saturday in April to the end of February.
8. Killingly Pond State Park
In the same vein, this state park, straddling the Connecticut-Rhode Island state line, is completely dominated by its 122-acre pond.
Just a sliver of state park land encircles the water.
There’s no beach here, but you’ll often find people swimming or tubing in the summer.
Killingly Pond is sparkling clear, and attracts anglers all year, including in the depths of winter for ice-fishing.
Engines up to 10hp are allowed, and there are limits on bass and pickerel (5 maximum, with a minimum length of 12″ and 14″ respectively).
9. Jerimoth Hill
The highest point in the state of Rhode Island is right next door to Killingly on Route 101. To give you an idea of how achievable this summit is, it’s the lowest high point in all 50 states, and the next highest is in notoriously flat Illinois.
Jerimoth Hill stands at 247 meters above sea level and has a prominence of just 59 meters.
From the road there’s a short but pleasant 480-meter trail through pine forest, gaining just three meters in elevation to the summit, which is marked with a plate.
This spot is frequented most of all by “highpointers”, who tick off these summits across America and the world.
10. Tikkanen’s Berry Farm
This welcoming farm right on the CT-RI border is family-owned and opens on summer weekends for a short but lively pick-your-own season.
For a wholesome day out in idyllic countryside you can pick gooseberries, blackcurrants, beach plums, but most of all blueberries, which are consistently plump and succulent.
As you’d guess, berry growing is subject to the elements, but you can find out when the fruit is ready to pick by checking the farm’s website.
Generally the season will begin around early July with blackcurrants and continue through to the beach plums around the turn of September.