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History & Culture

A history of agriculture, industry, nautical advancement, and tourism


East Haddam and its villages of Moodus, Hayward, Millington, Hadlyme, and Johnsonville are steeped in history. From its first colonization in the 1600s up through to the modern day, Connecticut contributes in many unique and diverse ways.

Pre-Colonial Period

The area in and around Moodus and East Haddam was originally inhabited by the Mohegans, Nehantics, and Wangunks prior to British colonization. The land now known as Haddam and East Haddam was jointly purchased in 1662 from the locals for thirty coats - about $100. The naming of the village of Moodus honored the locals who had once lived there, who called the place "Machimoodus", meaning the place of the low noises. A fault line runs through the village and tremors occur there on occasion. 

Revolution and War

During the Revolution, East Haddam developed an impressive reputation for ship building that carried on through the Civil War period. The young men of the town also contributed to the war efforts during both conflicts. Captain Comer also sailed north from his home in East Haddam to make significant discoveries in Canada and the North.

Moodus Industry

Agriculture has long played an important role in the culture and industry of East Haddam, but the early 19th century saw the rise of great mill industries in the Village of Moodus. The Moodus River, a tributary of the mighty Connecticut, served as the hub for these mills, with 12 of the 15 located along it. Today, most of the original mills are gone but visitors who hike along the river can still find relics of the past: Bits of rusted equipment, foundations, and more are all along the abandoned shores.

Rise of the Resorts

In the late 1910s and up through the 50s, East Haddam became a popular destination for residents of New York City to escape the hustle and bustle (and heat) of the city during the summer. The population of the town, which normally sits around 8,000 individuals, would swell in the summers to over 30,000. Machimoodus State Park is the former site of Sunrise Resort, and lots of cabin foundations, old pools, and more can be discovered during a day's hike there. Other resorts, such as Grandview Campground, are still in operation and open for booking.


Visit the
East Haddam Historical Society
to learn more about the history and culture of this New England town.
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