The Great Meadows


October 7, 1906 - RECLAIMING SALT MEADOWS: Interesting Work Now Being Carried On Near Bridgeport - A project in land reclamation is now being carried forward near Bridgeport, the results of which promise to present many features of interest to property owners, particularly in view of the great activity in the near by sections of Long Island, with their vast low-lying tracts, waiting to be made productive. Experiments have been made by the Long Island Railroad on barren tracts near Wading River, L. I., and reclamation work is in progress at various other points, but this under-taking in Connecticut is important as showing especially what can be done in the reclaiming of salt meadow and making it available for farming and market gardening. Between Bridgeport and Stratford, on the Sound shore, is a tract of 1,000 acres crossed by small creeks and covered with a rank growth of salt grass. In the past this grass has been gathered and has found a market of indifferent character, being used for packing and bedding. It brought only $8 a ton and on that basis barely paid for the work of gathering it. About a year ago the work of reclaiming an area of ten acres was undertaken under the direction of E. J. Hollister who was the organizer and is now the general adviser of the Winona Agricultural Institute, at Winona Lake, Indiana and who has supervised reclamation projects at many places in the United States and Canada. One of his more recent undertakings in this part of the country resulted in converting a large tract of lowland and bogs at Locust Valley, L.l., into an attractive part of W. D. Guthrie's estate at that place. Immediately in charge of the work near Bridgeport is Frank R. Sammis, representing the Stratford The results of the first season's efforts have been highly encouraging, so that Mr. Hollister feels justified in predicting that this practically worthless tract can be made to yield annually hay or tame grass as he calls it, worth at least $45 an acre with a certain increase of this amount to $100 an acre after the soil has been more thoroughly treated and made suitable for planting other crops such as "sweet corn, celery, and asparagus. The work of reclaiming land of this sort divides itself into two branches - first, the keeping out of tidewater and later the bringing about of the necessary changes in the chemical make-up of the soil so that it will support various forms of plant life The tide is kept out by the construction of dykes and any remaining water carried off in drains. Owing to the axclusion of the salt water the meadow land naturally begins to sweeten itself a process which is also hastened by rains, when they do not have to contend against the flooding of the tract by tidewater twice daily. The meadow is then thoroughly plowed and the doctoring of the soil begun. Lime is introduced to complete the work of counteracting the salt, the necessary quantity, of course varying in different localities. The disintegration of the soil also adds to its capacity for retaining water and absorbing oxygen. A salt meadow is a good deal like a piece of corned beef," said Mr. Hollister, yesterday in discussing his work, "and almost the same thing happens to it when the tide is kept, but as happens to a piece of corned beef if it is kept out of its tub of brine. Decomposition is hastened and that, of course, is essential to all forms of plant life. Such a tract as there is between Bridgeport and Stratford is a sleeping giant - the power is there and needs only intelligent direction to make it enormously productive. After such land has been thoroughly prepared and as it were made of a receptive character, it is comparatively easy to continue the treatment of it by the addition of the various chemical elements in which it is lacking, this treatment being regulated to a large extent by the kind of crop desired. Enormous quantities of hay are now brought to this city from the West and find a ready market at $10 a ton. Even if nothing but grass were to be raised on reclaimed lands around New York, large areas could be made to yield at least three tons of hay to the acre. On this basis, the first year's crop would fully pay the cost of reclaiming and would make the future yield unusually profitable. As to what might be done with other crops, it is only necessary to recall what was done with the bogs around Kalamazoo, Mich., which were long regarded as practically valueless, but which are now worth $900 an acre and on which celery to the value of $600,000 is raised each year.


December 19, 1912: In keeping with its policy of having nothing but the most modern equipment in order to maintain the high efficiency of the various departments, the Bridgeport Hydraulic Company has just purchased an Austin trench excavator for use on the city's streets, an illustration of which is shown. The tests which the machine has undergone at Lordship Manor have proven that it will be a great time saver for the company and a great factor in eliminating torn-up streets wherever a water main is to be laid. No longer will it be necessary to dig a ditch by hand and have several blocks torn up at the same time, for the new machine digs the ditches so quickly that the pipe gangs have considerable difficulty in keeping up with it. Where before they often had to wait for the ditches to be dug. The new machine digs from two and one-half to three feet of ditch, in linear measurement, per minute, and when speeded up and in favorable soil will do as high as six feet a minute. It is estimated that it will do the work of forty men. The recent tests at Lordship Manor, where a water system is being extended from South Main street in Stratford, showed that the excavator would do all that is claimed for it. The ditches were dug in the gravelly soil in short order and proved that a great amount of time will be saved in the work in the future. Whenever any work is to be done in Bridgeport by the Hydraulic Company, this machine will be used and will reduce the tearing up of the city streets and the attendant danger to traffic to a minimum.

September 8, 1923 - The Connecticut Oyster company of Milford has asked Harbormaster William Lamond to take steps to remove a sunken barge now living in Lewis Gut near the Lake Torpedo Boat Company basin. The company claims that the sunken barge is a menace to navigation in the harbor and several lives were endangered when a power boat struck the wreck several weeks ago. The company also claims that its boat the Columbia struck the sunken barge snapping a rudder support. Harbor Master Lamond declared yesterday there is no money available to finance the removal of the barge.

March 28, 1924 - Harbor men are of the opinion that the next decade will be great changes in Bridgeport harbor unless steps are taken to combat the constant erosion of the wind driven tides. The tide is gradually making an opening into Lewis Gut which has always been separated from the open Sound by Long Beach. When the tide gets through here it is expected that entirely new currents will set up in the harbor which may either build up or wash away Pleasure Beach, which is nothing more than a big sand hill in form. Other changes might be worked in the harbor, such as the entry of large quantities of sand drift which would work to fill the regular channel lanes.

February 24, 1925 - COUNTY PLANNERS SEE STRATFORD JOINED TO CITY: Assert Logical Development of Stratford Point is by City. "Bridgeport is destined to become a great city of 200,000 or 300,000 people; Stratford will become inevitably to all intents a part of it," the Connecticut Forestry Association and Fairfield County Planning Association set forth in a booklet just released by them. "The logical development of Stratford Point is as a formal city park somewhat like Seaside Park, adds the report. "Bridgeport has at Seaside Park a magnificent municipal beach, badly crowded and destined to be more so. Seaside Park is a fine example of formal landscape architecture but it no more resembles real nature than does Central Park in New York. "Stratford owns a considerable stretch of beach at Stratford Point but no land back of it. Bridgeport is destined to be in a few years a great city of 200,000 or 300,000 people; Stratford will become inevitably to all intents and purposes a part of it. The logical development of Stratford Point is as a formal city park somewhat like Seaside Park. "Since the shore towns cannot at best more than look after their own needs how about the rest of the County? Danbury, Bethel, Ridgefield and New Canaan are all even now well developed and have enormous possibilities of growth. Should the interior of the county where eventually a large portion of its population must reside, permit itself to be shut off from the sea, the common property of all mankind? "Stratford Point is a bluff commanding a fine view of the Sound. Beaches exist on both sides of it but are shallow at low tide and are endangered by sewage pollution from Bridgeport Harbor and the Housatonic River. This site is not conveniently located with respect to most of Fairfield County and must generally be approached through the crowded streets of Bridgeport. Furthermore development of cottage sites and commercial beaches are already started.


August 23, 1932 - PLAN TO DEVELOP SHORE FRONT UP: Plans to fill in the Great Salt Meadows in Stratford and completely reconstruct the towns shorefront were in the hands of the Avon Park Commission today. The plans presented to the commission by Councilman Everett Sniffen last night contemplate an expenditure of $1,500,000 for improvements that would be worth $3,500,000 its sponsor says. The scheme would eliminate the necessity of spending $500,000 for a sewage system in Avon Park by raising the land in that area four feet. It would also eliminate the growing mosquito menace. It is the intention of the commission; it developed at the meeting to make application to the Reconstruction Finance Corporation for the $1,500,000 if the plan is approved. The town would have to pay in excess of 3.5 percent interest and Councilman Sniffen pointed out that inasmuch as the corporation was formed to loan money for self liquidating projects, he believed the project would receive the immediate approval of the finance heads as well as from the state. According to the plan, which members of the committed said was one of the largest projects ever attempted in this section of the state, it would require 7,200,000 cubic feet of fill to completely cover the area in consideration from South Avenue to the rear of the farm property and the Bridgeport Airport to the Bridgeport city line.

January 25, 1935: RACING ON GREAT MEADOWS PLAN IF PARI-MUTUEL BETTING IS LEGALIZED IN CONNECTICUT: Stratford Interests Reported Active in Project to Establish Race Track on Vacant Area Here Expect Million Would be Added to Grand List: Legalization of pari-mutuel betting on horse races in Connecticut was expected to be introduced in the State Senate at Hartford by Senator Lawlor of Waterbury late this week. If the measure is passed in the Legislature it may mean the transformation of Great Salt Meadows into a race track. Plans to this end are understood to be under consideration by a group of Stratford and Bridgeport men. A holding corporation is in process of organization to develop the 540 acres of swamp and bog land which lie east of Pleasure Beach and between Lordship and Bridgeport. The plan as outlined tentatively would be to pump sand into the swampy portions and turf it. Included in the group concerned are some of those who now own property within that acreage. It is asserted $1,000,000 could be added to the grand list of the town by such a development, besides the extensive fees which would go to the state from racing. Development of Mollison Airport also would result; it is claimed, to provide air transportation to the field. The property is now taxed at $50 an acre. Those interested, none of whom would permit use of his name, say such a racing plant would cost the town little for service, maintaining its own police and fire departments. The district is zoned as industrial, so there would be no zone conflict. It is believed some arrangement for Federal funds might be made, since 1,000 men could be employed developing the land.

July 13, 1939 - WPA WILL BUILD CULVERTS AND TIDE GATE IN SALT MARSH: While the town of Stratford is awaiting the transfer of title to the Lordship Meadows road from the Lordship Park Association for construction of a new roadway across the Great Salt Meadow, a tide gate and culverts will be constructed under the WPA mosquito control project, Town Manager William Shea revealed yesterday. Transfer of title to the town will make it possible to undertake the $55,000 project for the raising of the Meadow road to protect the airport and Stratfords south end from flood waters. Engineering detail on the project has been completed and with the filing of the deeds with the town clerk the project will be submitted to regional headquarters for approval.

November 1, 1947 - ARMY APPROVES EROSION PROJECT: Sand, Gravel Taken From Harbor to Be Pumped to Pleasure Beach Mayor McLevy today received permission from the U. S. Army Engineers to proceed with widening of the three shores of Pleasure beach with sand and gravel taken from Bridgeport Harbor during dredging operations. Previously the Mayor had received permission from the state. With the two permits obtained by the city the Arundel Company, of New York, which is dredging the harbor under a federal appropriation, now may pump the material on the beaches. Designed to counteract erosion and increase parking and bathing facilities, the project calls for the hydraulic pumping of the sand and gravel to widen the beaches to a maximum distance of 300 feet on the shore of Lewis Gut, 700 feet on the harbor shore and 300 feet on the Long Island Sound shore. Stratford is receiving similar permits in order to widen Long Beach as a preventative against further erosion.

September 20, 1946: LORDSHIP STREET IS FORMALLY ENTITLED GREAT MEADOWS ROAD: The highway which traverses the Lordship Meadows (and which the community is hoping may be put into usable shape before snow flies) is officially known as the Great Meadows Road. Town Council last week so named it upon recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board. The road always has been known loosely as Lordship Road or the Lordship Meadows Road. This has caused confusion with Lordship Road which runs from Prospect Drive to Beach Park Boulevard and is not precisely an extension of the Meadows Road. The name of the beach stretch remains Lordship Road. When the matter came before the Planning Board, Commissioner Edward Forstrom commenting upon the Meadows Road running from the Bridgeport line to Oak Bluff Avenue, remarked that only three homes are along it and the change in name will therefore make little difference to the residents in number. Clifford Hutchinson, president of the Lordship Improvement Association, informed the Planning Board that confusion has been caused between the two streets. Town Engineer Walter Dunbar interpolated that confusion is not lessened because the town has a short street running from Blakeman Place to Locust in the Third District named Meadow Street. Meadowview Avenue moreover, runs from Woodend Road to the Access Road in the lower part of the First District. Colonel Dunbar also told the planners that Dr. Estella Strayer occupies number 1 Lordship Road at the beach end. But there is another number 1 at the opposite end at the city line, he went on. Not long ago the police had a riot call to No. 1 and went to the Strayer residence, where there was not any disturbance at all. Considerable discussion about a name ensued and finally Fred Phelan suggested Great Meadows Road from his seat at the press table. This appealed to everyone and the Planning Board voted in unanimously and referred it to Council. Town Council indulged in little talk about the subject last week but adopted the new name unanimously. I am afraid though, grinned Chairman Peter Ring Jr., that the people will keep on calling if Lordship Road.

Great Meadows Development plans


January 10, 1960 - McNEIL TO ASK PERMISSION FOR ROADS AND MARINA: Roderick C. McNeil, II, of the Mianus Realty Corporation of Devon, owners of acreage in the Great Meadows adjacent to Oak Bluff Avenue, will file a petition with the Planning and Zoning commission for a public hearing in February seeking approval of his proposal to build two roads onto his land and to erect and operate a small boat marina. Planning Administrator Walter Young said that Mr. McNeil conferred with him on Wednesday and was told that a plot plan and outline of the development of the Mianus property must be submitted to the Planning commission and receive its approval before work on the marina or other parts of the project may proceed. Mr. Young said that the commission is interested in the proposed project, which came to its attention through the newspapers, inasmuch as there is talk of a subdivision and, of course, construction of dwellings in a light industrial zone is prohibited under the zoning laws to begin with." The planning administrator said, even if only a portion of the plan is developed at this time, it is necessary under the zoning regulations that it have the approval of the commission. In the presentation of his plan to the residents of the Lordship area, Mr. McNeil said that his company proposes to construct two roads with cinder base onto the property, one adjacent to Oak Bluff Avenue and the second from Lordship Road. Both road plans would have to be approved by the Planning commission, Mr. Young said, and permission would be necessary to remove the soil from the land to permit dumping of the cinders. Mr. McNeil has told residents of Lordship that future development of the property includes a deep channel from Long Island Sound to the area, rehabilitation of Long Beach and additional boating facilities. Town officials point out that they have not been consulted in the matter and any channel to Long Island Sound would have to go through town-owned area, still carried as town land, despite the break-through of water from Long Island Sound at the Lordship end of Long Beach. All of the Long Beach land is owned by the town and no plan to sell it is under consideration, Council members commented. Present plans by the town call for removal of all cottages on Long Beach from Oak Bluff Avenue to Pleasure Beach in 1963, when the current leases expire after which the Waterfront Authority will consider renovations and the pumping in of sand to form a public beach for the people of the town. Several attempts in past years to purchase the beach land has been turned down by the Council. Mr. Young said that the State Water Resources commission has informed him that the Mianus Realty corporation had applied for a permit to dredge as a part of their project. He said he has informed them that no such permit should be issued pending action by the Planning commission Waterfront Authority and the town council.

November 13, 1966 - Causeway Seen As Key To Development of Great Meadows Area for Industry: Members of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce heard of plans for the industrial development of the Great Meadows area which could bring to Stratford an annual tax revenue of approximately $2 million at its meeting Thursday in the Actor's lounge of the American Shakespeare Festival Theater. Members of the League of Women Voters also attended the meeting, which was addressed by Martin Ryan Jr., president of the Stratford Industrial Center Inc., who said development of the Meadows area, depends on deep water shipping and docking facilities. Development of the Meadows for heavy industry was proposed as early as 1887, Mr. Ryan said, and the entire area is presently zoned for heavy industry. For the past 10 years, he said, periodic discussion have been conducted for the removal of the Pleasure Beach bridge to permit deep water shipping to enter Lewis Gut, but each time discussions were broken off by officials of the city of Bridgeport, who were reluctant to permit removal of the bridge. Before Stratford can become a seaport, the Pleasure Beach bridge must be removed, and discussions were recently initiated in which Bridgeport officials verbally agreed to the removal of the bridge, and also to pay 50 per cent of the cost of a causeway across Great Meadows, which would serve both Bridgeport's Pleasure beach and Stratford's Long beach, Mr. Ryan said. The Connecticut Development commission and local area development commissions look to the causeway to make for progress in the area by opening up a new site for many industries which will otherwise go to New Jersey or to New Haven, he stated. "Lack of deep water facilities has caused Stratford to lose more than 10 million in tax revenue alone, when deep water transportation could not be made available," Mr. Ryan said. "Preliminary negotiations were made in 1960 with many firms, who looked favorably on locating in Stratford - among them Volkswagen, Georgia Pacific Lumber and Landrover, which all went to other sites when removal of the bridge across the mouth of Lewis Gut could not be arranged." When asked by Chamber of Commerce members whether the railroad spur, for which a right-of- way had been granted several years ago, was not adequate, Mr. Ryan said industries using ships to bring raw materials in would use rail to ship out finished or semi-finished products. "The two go hand in hand," the development company president said. When a Chamber member stated that "there are 50 'Paul Reveres' in Lordship ready to wage a last ditch fight" against the causeway," Mr. Ryan said, "The area is zoned for heavy industry, provided all the zoning regulations were met, a factory could be built on the very edge of the meadows, right next to the residential community. "We are not proposing that. Plans for now are to develop only the area near Bridgeport, with 360 acres of open meadow between industry and Lordship homes; and many buildings being put up by industry look better than some schools." The acreage from the edge of the industrial site presently proposed to the edge of the Lordship community may be acquired by the Federal government through the Army Corps of Engineers for a water retention area, he said. The water retention area would be part of a diking project, Mr. Ryan said, which was a separate program by the government. The elevation of the Meadows area is six feet above mean high water, he said, the construction elevation will be 12 feet above mean high water, as certified by topographical and construction engineers. When League of Women Voters members asked about the effect of the proposed plants on pollution of air and water in the area Mr. Ryan stated that the amount of pollution would not differ from that existing today. New installations will be required to meet rigid requirements, and would be closely policed and under scrutiny by state and local departments, he said. The causeway would deprive Lordship and Stratford resident of any beach front area, but would open Long beach to greater use by Stratford residents Mr. Ryan said. "Last summer, 53,000 persons used Short beach, which is at the mouth of the dirty Housatonic, but only 6,000 or so persons used Long beach. The causeway will open the Long Beach area to more people in the town, many of whom are presently unaware of the desirable facilities there," he said. The saving to the city Bridgeport will be approximately $25,000 in the cost of the maintenance of the Pleasure Beach bridge if the causeway is built at a cost of $350,000 to be shared equally by the city and the town he said. For a $175,000 investment Bridgeport will save $25,000 year. For the same investment Stratford stands to gain a tax revenue in a few short years $2 million," Mr. Ryan said. Chamber members pointed out that the cost of additional sewer lines and sewage treatment facilities would be borne by users of the land, who would pay their pro rata share and would be no expense to the town. Mr. Ryan displayed maps showing, the location of the causeway, which would extend southerly from Great Meadows road (Lordship Boulevard) to Long Beach. Access to Pleasure Beach for Bridgeport residents only and Long Beach for Stratford residents, could be effectively controlled with fees and a sticker system he said. A sticker system for Stratford is presently in effect, Mr. Ryan said, and added that there is no reason why Bridgeport residents would use Long Beach if the causeway were installed, anymore than they do now, since Pleasure beach is available to them. Lordship, with 4,000 persons, has two miles of beaches for the use of residents, but Stratford's remaining 43,000 persons have only the less desirable Short Beach, a few hundred, feet of beach In Lordship, and only half the use of Long Beach, and the additional beach would benefit the town, he said. Oyster seeding, which has been only a limited activity during the past 15 to 20 years in Lewis gut, would continue and possibly increase if the causeway were built, Mr. Ryan said, according to word received from the State Water Resource commission.


Meadows bridge


Meadows develop


Inlet 1972


Airport 1972


Marsh 1973

April 13, 1968 - Final Road Plans Completed For Great Meadows Area: Final plans are being completed for construction of roads for the Great Meadows area and for the bridge crossing of Lewis Gut, according to Town Engineer Wesley M. Cronk. The town has received federal and state approval for the project, which will be shared equally by the city of Bridgeport and the town. The city will be enabled to remove the wooden Pleasure Beach bridge, saving an estimated maintenance cost of $25,000. Removal of the bridge will give the Great Meadows industrial area a deep-water access and docking facilities for ocean going ships. Access to the most desirable parts of Long Beach will be provided town residents by the new bridge. When completed the bridge plans will be sent to a bridge engineering consultant for preparation of the final version of plans. A consultant has not yet been chosen, town officials said.

September 30, 1969 - REPORT GIVEN ON WATERFRONT:Stratford Board Sees 'Limitless Potential' for Recreation Stratford's committee studying the town's waterfront parks reported last night it had found the area's recreational facilities lacking compared to similar U. S. communities, but added that Stratford's waterfront potential appears almost limitless. Richard G. Ward, consulting recreation planner, revealed the committee's findings at a public meeting in the Town hall council chambers. He claimed the waterfront program, including improvements at Short Beach park, Long Beach park, Point No Point, the town and Bond's dock, could offer Stratford residents a virtual "cafeteria of opportunity" for year-round recreation. The Waterfront Authority committee, in operation since Jan. 1, began its study by comparing Stratford recreational offerings to similar communities.

January 4, 1972 - City Conservation Unit Joins Opposition to Stratford Barrier: The Bridgeport Conservation commission has joined the ranks of other area and state environmental units in opposing the U.S. Army Engineers' proposed hurricane barrier dike off Long Beach, Stratford, which the group feels if completed would invite the temptation of entirely filling in the treasured wetlands in the future. Discussing the preliminary draft of the soon-to-be released environmental impact statement, Mrs. Palmer Epler, a commission member, said last night the report maintained "the piecemeal destruction of the marsh should be made more difficult not less difficult." The four-page report drafted by Dr. Joseph Moran of the Bridgeport Conservation commission noted that the possible protection the dike might offer would not outweigh damage to the marsh upon which marine life depend. Also scored was the estimated $24 million cost of the dike which the conservationists argued could be better invested and still aid the environment. The report, recommends the beach area be maintained as nature originally designed it to be - a buffer between land and sea and the tidal marsh. The Army Engineers claim that the dyke would prevent breeching of the beach (holes created by hurricanes) was dismissed by the commission as not that important, adding that it had not occurred since a 1948 storm. The commission's report stemmed from a request by the Army engineers who solicited the advisory statements from many environmental units, both state and private, when they first proposed constructing the dike. Construction of the 5.5 mile levee system and floodwalls 18 feet above sea level was presented some months ago, in a draft environmental statement and not at all definite. Mrs. Epler said last night she hoped the commission's report together, with the many others submitted would carry a great deal of weight and avert fruition of the proposal. Final review of the proposal comes from the federal Environmental Protection agency, which will analyze the various impact statements and then resolve a position. So far the only group that is enthusiastic about the dike is the Army Engineers with strong opposition coming from the State Department of Environmental Protection, Commission Dan Lufkin, Protect Your Environment of Stratford and the Stratford Conservation commission. The negative advice on the proposal is largely similar as all the groups have shared in study and information in compiling their reports, according to Mrs. Epler. In a telephone interview, Mrs. Epler enumerated major arguments in the commissions preliminary draft which would be incorporated in the final report. Quoted from the first version, the report said, "The tendency to destroy the marsh land bit by bit is clearly indicated in the documentation provided in the New England Army Corps of Engineers environmental impact draft statement which reports wetlands in Fairfield County shrank from 2,053 acres in 1954 to 1,120 acres by 1964. The report continued that the Armys suggested economic advantages of protection of residential, industrial property and Bridgeport airport as well as those facilities which are envisioned under future expansion could not compare to the irretrievable destruction of this valuable marsh. The conservationists feared that with completion of the dike the means would be closer at hand to gradually control the entire Great Meadows area and fill it in for industrial development. They proposed that the $24 million earmarked for the project be invested and the income, conservatively figured at $960,000 annually, be set aside for alternate means of protection and for the establishment of structures when proved necessary. They also advised any new buildings be constructed to be above the peak flood levels in case of severe storms. They added the income could also be used to enhance conditions around the marsh and that a portion of it could be set aside to underwrite losses should they occur to homeowners, business and industrial firms and the Bridgeport airport should a major flood occur. The report emphasized the marshland should be maintained as a viable estuary habitat contributing to natural ecology and man's recreation. The Army Engineers insist the barrier would protect the marsh from tidal flooding, storm damage, starfish and other natural threats. In light of the environmentalists fears of future additional encroachment of wetlands which has already destroyed so much marshland acreage in the area the Army argues, that if developers have their way they will fill the marsh with or without a hurricane barrier. Palmer Epler, a member of the board of directors of Protect Your Environment of Stratford and husband of the group's president, recently spoke of the Army's claims of being able to control the salinity in the marsh. "Our feeling is that anytime you want to control something that's natural you run the risk of endangering it," he commented. He argued against the fear of flood damage to property citing that Stratford zoning presently requires new industry to build above the high water level so they won't be flooded out. State Environmental commissioner Lufkin quoted Governor Thomas Meskill at a Greater Hartford Chamber of Commerce meeting two months ago saying dams and other permanent structures cannot be removed once they are built. "So communities are stuck with immovable edifices even after new techniques are devised to better solve environmental problems," the commissioner said. The proposed levee system and floodwall made of earthen fill faced with heavy boulders would be constructed along the west bank of the Housatonic River south of Ferry Creek to Lordship and from Oak Bluff Avenue in western Lordship, across the southern edge to the Great Meadow marsh to Surf Avenue and the Connecticut turnpike. Two weeks ago the Connecticut Costal Zone Management committee provided another argument against the dike. In a report they claimed that as long as the marsh is intact it will continue to act as a natural buffer, soaking up high tides as it always has. The Army Engineers noted the marsh's capacity for soaking up tides could be diminished by such possible projects as the expansion of Bridgeport airport, the Stratford Industrial center and relocation of Route 113. State Sen. George Gunther R-Stratford; who is chairman of the committee, said the dike project would additionally be costly to the Town of Stratford which would have to maintain it. He said it could cost $50,000 annually to maintain.


Stratford Downs

March 22, 1973: PYE PREDICTS TRACK AN ECOLOGICAL DISASTER: Protect Your Environment (PYE) speaking through President Don Powers has launched its first direct attack on the proposed Stratford Downs racetrack complex since the Town Council agreed to hold a referendum on the subject. That referendum is set for April 3, a Tuesday with the polls to be open between noon and 8 pm. Ten thousand additional cars plus special buses created by introduction of a race track will bring ecological disaster to the Town of Stratford said Don Powers President of Stratford PYE. This number of vehicles represents about one third of all vehicles now operated within the Town with an important difference being that any racing traffic would all be operating simultaneously in arriving and leaving the proposed facility. Thousands of pounds of pollutants would be discharged each time this formidable army of vehicles arrives at or leaves the Lordship Boulevard area. Powers said that if the track were to be built at the Lordship Boulevard-Access Road site proposed as a site for the complex the resulting traffic congestion would affect not only that area but the remainder of the town as well. Present users of Lordship Boulevard and adjacent roads will avoid these areas as much as of the tracks cars will use roads other than I-95 or the Merritt Parkway connector. Powers said that many motorists would avoid the Merritt Parkway toll booth in the same way that many now avoid the Stratford turnpike toll by exiting in Stratford at West Broad Street and reentering I-95 in Devon beyond the toll. Traffic will increase on Main Street, Nichols Avenue, Huntington Road, Stratford Avenue and other large thoroughfares in between. Powers debunked the track promoters claim that only 10 percent off all race traffic would pass through Stratford at points other than Lordship Boulevard. It would seem more likely that at least 20 percent off all race traffic would pass somewhere through Stratford at points other than Lordship Boulevard. Consequently every household in town will feel the effect of this unwelcome influx of traffic, Powers declared. Another problem said Powers, would be an increase in automobile accidents. The track consultants proposal to reserve one lane of the turnpike at Lordship Boulevard for track traffic is labeled as ludicrous by Powers. Cutting the highway down to two lanes would only cause tie-ups and invite accidents following which all traffic would then have to be routed through Stratfords streets. The promoters also failed to consider the increase in traffic that can be expected when the track, if approved opens two or three years from now. By that time normal vehicular traffic can be expected to have increased even without the track, he stated. The problem of turnpike repairs which caused miles long backups in recent months as well as three years ago when repaving was done would only be exacerbated by additional traffic generated by a racetrack.

April 5, 1973: TRACK DEFEATED: In a turnout far heavier than expected 15,295 Stratford voters trekked to the polls Tuesday to register overwhelming disapproval of a proposed horse race track for Stratford. The final tally was 9,726 to 5,569 or 64 percent against the track to 36 percent in favor. The Planning & Zoning Commission will meet in executive (secret) session tonight at Town Hall to consider the zone change petitions of the track promoters. If they do not act by midnight tonight the zone changes required for the track will automatically be declared approved under state law and the track could be built. However one usually reliable source saw little chance that this parliamentary maneuver would be attempted in light of the nearly two-to-one vote against the track. Dr. Nathan Friedman of the Committee Against the Track (CAT), PYE President Don Powers and the Reverend Joseph Shaw of the Stratford Conference of Churches were present Tuesday night at Town Hall when the votes were counted and appeared elated by the large NO vote. The three groups had worked together for the past four weeks to defeat the track. Stratford Down Ltds lobbyist, attorney Richard Rittenband appeared disappointed at the outcome. Stratford Downs had spent at least $30,000 on a public relations and advertising campaign (according to Lawrence Smith the managing general partner) on the referendum in an attempt to win the votes of the people of Stratford. But Rittenband was defiant in the face of defeat: He declared Stratford Downs is still alive and kicking. We will continue in our efforts to put a racetrack and a recreation complex where we had intended. (Lordship Boulevard at Access Road in Stratford). The referendum is merely advisory. It is not binding and there is some question about its legality. Rittenbands comments on the referendum appeared to be in marked contrast to managing general partner Smiths who had stated prior to Tuesdays vote that the referendum would have tremendous psychological effect. Rittenband said Tuesday that he still hoped the Planning & Zoning Commission would act to approve the zone change petitions before it would allow the track to be built. Rittenband also charged that some of the opponents advertising was totally misleading. A lot of the charges made by the opponents were untrue he also stated. He did not elaborate. Rittenband declined to name the still secret principal backer of the track, despite the fact that Smith has promised it would be revealed April 3, the date of the referendum.

Stratford Downs





Earth Building


Stratford Arena


Downs 1971


Downs 1973


Lewis Gut 1973



For further information on the Great Meadows see the following links:

The Burma Road


THE "BURMA ROAD" in Stratford (Named after the famous WWII Burma Road in China) By John Babina: The "Burma Road" in Stratford was named after the Burma Road in China. The Chinese road was about 700 miles long and was constructed through rough mountain country. It was considered a remarkable engineering achievement by many people around the world. The Burma Road was undertaken by the Chinese after the Japanese invasion in 1937 and was completed in 1938. It transported war supplies, landed at Rangoon, and shipped by railroad to Lashio. The Burma Road traffic increased in importance to China after the Japanese took effective control of the Chinese coast and Indochina. When this road was cut, the U.S. flew the famous supply route called "The Hump" [the Himalayas] to keep China supplied. The Stratford road was built through the salt water marshes at the beginning of WWII to gain better access to the Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft plant (the building known as AVCO-Lycoming in the 1950s) which then had almost 12,000 defense workers. Since the salt water marshes offered construction difficulties of its own, the local road picked up the nickname "the Burma Road" in recognition of the [by then] internationally known Burma Road in China.

June 13, 1922 - STRATFORD YOUTHS TO LOSE SWIMMING HOLE AT LORDSHIP: Superintendent E. H. Thompson of the Stratford Land Improvement Company, which owns much of the Lordship meadow land, has posted signs along Lordship dyke, forbidding swimming in the water alongside the dyke. Superintendent Thompson said today the orders against swimming at this point have been issued for the protection of boys who have been in the habit of swimming there, as well as to save the company the expense of the boys tearing down the side of the dike in their sport. He said the swimming hole near the spillway where the boys go in swimming is particularly dangerous when the tide is running in, as the current is strong at that time. He said that the boys in climbing up the side of the dyke had caused it to cave in at one place, damaging it to the extent of $500.

1932 - ROAD TO LORDSHIP MAY BE CLOSED: Stratford Must Accept and Maintain Meadow Highway Staples Says - Unless it is immediately accepted and repairs made, the Lordship Road a 2.25 mile stretch running along the Meadows from Hollister Avenue in Bridgeport to the entrance of Lordship Park, Frank Stapes of the Lordship Park Association today declared it may be necessary to close the road. Mr. Staples however added that his warning must not be construed as a threat. For some time the Park Association has sought aid from the Stratford Town Council. The matter however has been continuously tabled. Staples made the statement following a remark made by Town Council Chairman Vernon Morehouse that he understood the road may be closed unless town action was taken. The Lordship Road was built 35 years ago, but was repaired eight years ago. Its cost has totaled about $30,000. The latest job was placed on a foundation of gravel. Bus line officials in charge of vehicles operating over the Lordship Road today declared bussed would begin the run via South Main Street. The present route of the bus is from Hollister Avenue to Lordship to South Main Street to Honeyspot Road.

January 15, 1937 - LORDSHIP ROAD IS OWNED BY STRATFORD STUDY SHOWS: State Highway Department Record Bears Out Councilmans Contention - The question of ownership of the Lordship road, so-called Meadow Road, from Prospect Drive to the Bridgeport city line across the Great Salt Meadows appears definitely settled in old minutes of the town council, according to town officials following a survey made at the request of Councilman Peter Ring of Lordship. From the council records, particularly from an agreement signed by the town with the state highway officials in 1929, proof is given that the road is owned by the Town of Stratford and is not a private road owned by the Lordship Company as had been claimed by some council members. The study of the records also revealed that the road will eventually become part of the stated aid highway system and will be paved in the same manner as Honeyspot Road and South Main Street. Under an agreement between the town and the state highway department in June 1929, the state aid highway route was officially designated from Hards Corner at Stratford Avenue and Main Street, south on Main Street to Prospect Drive in Lordship, west on Prospect Drive to the Lordship road and east on this road to Honeyspot Road. The road turns at this point east on Honeyspot Road to Stratford Avenue. When the paving work started, certain rights of way which the council had agreed to procure on the Meadow Road route had not been recorded and the state constructed the road from Hards Corner to Prospect Drive and Honeyspot Road from Lordship Road to Stratford Avenue leaving the area across the meadows for later development. For each year a portion of the state aid funds set aside for the town has been applied against this amount and next April the final $806.00 becomes payable, according to a communication to Town Manager William Shea from the state highway department. Communications from the state highway department showing that the town agreed to the paving of the Lordship road in 1929, bears out the intention of Councilmen Ring and Everett Sniffen that the road is town owned.

January 13, 1939: ISOLATION OF LORDSHIP: While officials of the Town of Stratford and the City of Bridgeport are disagreeing on what methods should be taken to halt the flood of Long Island Sound waters over the Lordship Road and the municipal airport the water is gradually eating away the bed of the only road connecting Lordship with Bridgeport. The erosion of the soil which supports the oiled road surface across the meadows has been going on since September 21, 1938 when the hurricane ripped the $20,000 mud dike to shreds. The storm tore great holes in the dike. They pounding of the water since has enlarged the holes already made and fashioned new ones. At the present time the Lordship Road is under water at high tide. A storm of any seriousness coming at high tide would inundate the road permanently. With each day more of the road is under water at high tide. Which means that each day more of the dike is being undermined and which means that although nearly four months have passed with the situation becoming worse daily, nothing has been done as yet to afford some protection to those who must use the road to travel to and from work. Conferences have been held between Town Manager Shea and Mayor McLevy. Both men possess an astute knowledge of what is best for their respective community. The Mayor has declared he will not contribute one red cent for another mud dike. The Town Manager feels that Bridgeport has a responsibility in whatever is done to mend or rebuild the dike and therefore is reluctant to go ahead independently. The time has come we believe when Stratford must take the initiative and DO SOMETHING. If Bridgeport is not willing to cooperate such a situation is very unfortunate. But it should not deter action in saving a road which is entirely within the limits of Stratford. Whether the work is done with WPA, PWA or town funds, it must be done and done quickly. In our opinion it is one of the most urgent needs of the town and comes before the new construction projects under consideration. The longer it is delayed the more expensive it will be later.

April 14, 1939 - PLAN TO REBUILD LORDSHIP ROAD: The town of Stratford with or without aid from the state of Connecticut or city of Bridgeport, will place Lordship Road in passable condition, rebuilding the bed of road and constructing a tide gate to hold back the waters which have caused serious damage since the September hurricane swept aside the protecting dike. The cost of the project under WPA will be $55,000 with the towns share amounting to about $8,000. The town will receive an 80 foot right of way from the Lordship Meadows Corporation, owner of the property on which the road has been built. Effort will be made to have the work done as a state aid project, but if such an arrangement is impossible, the town will do the job in cooperation with WPA. The aid of the city of Bridgeport will be sought also, inasmuch as the project will have a desirable effect in protecting the Bridgeport Airport. The truck farms of the south end of Stratford, a goodly portion of which are under water at the present time, will be aided by the project, their welfare and the repair of the road for Lordship residents being the main concern of the town of Stratford. The authorization of the steps considered was granted at a special meeting of the Town Council last night. The road will be raised nearly two feet, with two tide gates under construction, the town to take part in the building of one. The repair of Lordship Road has been before the council for the past six years, with last nights action the first definite step toward accomplishing that repair.


April 21, 1939: MEADOW ROAD TOWN OWNED BY COUNCIL ACTION: The Lordship Meadow Road is to be reconstructed! After more than ten years of controversy over the ownership of the roadway with stretches 2.8 miles across the Great Salt Meadows a deed from the Lordship Park Association to the Town of Stratford has definitely settled the matter. In fact the town council went even farther than proof of ownership after the resolution to accept the roadway as a part of the town highway system had been adopted they authorized the Town Manager to prepare at once a WPA project for reconstruction of the road. It all came about when the WPA engineers working on Jasper McLevys Bridgeport Airport found they had a drainage problem which could only be settled through cooperation of the Town of Stratford. Then came the complaint of the south end farmers that the tide water level had raised and water pouring onto their farm land from Fresh Pond Creek was causing serious damage to crops. Councilman Peter Ring of the Tenth District who has battled for four years to have something done with the meadow road said I cannot believe it when the council took final action. The reconstruction of the meadow road will do two things, Council Chairman Vernon Morehouse pointed out, it will protect the airport from future floods and relieve a drainage problem which would have prevented completion of the airport construction and it will permanently protect the south end farmers from storm waters. The meadow road is to be elevated, the so-called neck bridge is to be eliminated and two tide gates are to be constructed to control the waters on the north side of the highway. Until the permanent tide gates are ready, temporary relief will be provided. Town Manager William Shea lost no time after the formal action of the council. The town engineering department went to work Tuesday morning preparing the road layout and the Public Works department started Tuesday morning to prepare for the temporary tide gate at Fresh Pond Creek. An 80 foot right of way is to be deeded to the town from Prospect Drive to the Bridgeport city line. The road will be raised to elevation 21 in several places to prevent overflow from the outer Johnson Creek and Gut waters. The road will be of gravel construction with an oiled surface. Work of writing the detailed WPA project was started at once and will be submitted to Washington for approval as rapidly as possible. It was estimated by WPA officials that approximately seven weeks will be required for final approval; meantime the town can be preparing its lists of workers and preparing for materials for the job. The sea-side or south side of the roadway embankment will be completely sodded with marsh grass to provide a dike against future flood tides. Unofficial estimates place the town cost at approximately $8,000 for the $55,000 job. The town may also ask the state for some of its state aid funds to aid in the work inasmuch as the meadow row by agreement with the state highway department is a part of the state aid highway system joining South Main Street and Honeyspot Road. The late councilman Everett Sniffen had contended for years, that action by the town to receive deeds of ownership was not necessary producing council records to show that the town accepted the 2.8 miles as town highway more than 12 years ago.

August 2, 1939 - TOWN DEEDED LAND FOR LORDSHIP ROAD: Last Obstacle Removed For New Dike-Road Across Salt Meadows With the deeding of a large section of the Lordship Meadows road to the Town of Stratford this morning, the last obstacle was removed from the path of the projected construction of a new dike-road by the Town and WPA across the salt meadows. The deed filed at the Stratford Town clerks office this morning, relinquishes the rights of the Lordship Park Association of which Frank Staples is president, to a two mile section of the road which connects Bridgeports East End with Lordship. No payment was involved in the transaction. The construction of a new road raised high enough above sea level so that it will serve as a dike for the Lordship lowlands and the south end of Stratford. The present road has been flooded on several occasions with considerable damage to the farms in the neighborhood. A state mosquito control unit will begin the construction of culverts and tide gates immediately.

November 20, 1939 - CITYS AID SOUGHT FOR STRATFORD JOB: Bridgeport Should Contribute to Road-Dike Project Morehouse Says Construction of the proposed $129,000 Lordship Meadows road-dike by the Town of Stratford under a WPA project may require the aid of the City of Bridgeport, Council chairman Vernon Morehouse said today. Stating that the cost of the proposed project, which will include the raising and widening of the two mile stretch of road connecting Bridgeports East End with Lordship has increase from $55,000 to $129,000 he said. When the council first considered the possibility of building the dike it was under the assumption that it could be built at a cost of approximately $55,000 with the Towns share approximately $8,000. Now we are told that it will cost $129,000 with our share increasing to approximately $42,000. The City of Bridgeport should contribute to the project since its investment in the airport will be protected by the construction he said.

January 25, 1941 - OFFICIALS TO ACT ON LORDSHIP ROAD: Stratford town officials seeking construction of a road from the Vought-Sikorsky plant and the Stratford airport on South Main Street to the Lordship Meadows Road will meet next week with Mayor McLevy and his engineering and public works aides. The traffic situation is sufficiently serious to warrant immediate action, Stratford members of the committee said at a meeting last night. The Federal government, it was said, may contribute towards construction of the road. State Highway Commissioner William Cox has approved plans for the roadway and in a letter to Stratford town officials he indicated it is a problem for local and Federal defense authorities to work out. The need for the roadway to relieve South Main Street of its heavy traffic and value of the road in the event of a fire were points cited by committee members last night. At their next meeting the group will discuss plans for obtaining right-of-way rights.


1916 Lordship Road




Drainage digging


Dike 1972

January 4, 1942: BRIDGEPORT- STRATFORD FIGHT OFF: Stratford and Bridgeport will not fight over the costs to reconstructing the Lordship Road after the government completes the job of lengthening the airport runways Town Council Chairman Schwable said yesterday. The relocation of the road to allow for further expansion of the airport runways so they can accommodate the largest Army bombers must be made to allow Lordship residents to reach civilization. The Army move in taking over the Municipal Airport several weeks ago relieved 10th District Councilman Peter Ring of one of his worst headaches. The 10th District commuters have been after him for some time to get some agency to improve the Lordship thoroughfare which is in such bad shape it is wearing out Lordship autos. The project has gone over Rings head now and Town Manager Shea and Town Engineer Jankowski took the matter up last week. They decided that if and when the government extends the runways the road must be rebuilt and made passable. Schwable said Bridgeport will not have to bother with the project as the Federal Government will probably arrange funds for relocation of the road when the runways cut across it. If the plans are carried out, the proposed locations of an access road from Meadows Road to South Main Street at the Sikorsky plant will also require changing he said. WPA representatives will continue their investigation this week with Manager Shea.

February 1, 1942: LORDSHIP BURMA ROAD TO BE CLOSED SUNDAYS: Lordships Burma Road is closed at least from 2 to 5 pm every Sunday afternoon. Chief William Nichols head of the Stratford Police has found a new solution to the traffic problem that has been giving his coppers headaches for weeks and weeks. When the Stratford cops find the traffic too hot to handle, the Chief solves the entire problem by merely closing the road. South Main Street to be closed on personal orders from Chief Nichols every Sunday for three hours except to those going to Lordship on official business is the lifeline for the Lordship residents. Because Lordship Road, their only other exit is in such bad shape most of them have been using South Main which makes it necessary for them to pass the Vought-Sikorsky plant for their trips to the City. Lordship Road is to be closed too during these hours. Although the Chief has promised that everyone with business in Lordship will be allowed to pass, the definition of business is vague. To settle this problem the good Chief has a solution unique in the annals of Stratford crime detecting department. The only cars to be allowed down the road to Lordship are those bearing a sticker on the windshield which are being distributed by the police for identification purposes. This means that friends of Lordship residents will not be allowed down the roads on a Sunday afternoon, even if Hitler and his men should suddenly appear out of the Sound and make a good news story imminent. The dictatorial tactics of Chief Nichols has Bridgeporters in an uproar. Park City motorists want to know what authority the Chief closes State maintained highways because his traffic patrol cannot handle the cars. Rather than supply the necessary number of officers to handle the traffic, Nichols has miraculously done away with traffic he thinks. The move means that a person in a rush to get a plane at the airport on a Sunday afternoon between the hours of 2 and 5 will have to fly over the road to the airport. In this letter to officials of surrounding communities, Chief Nichols announced his brain child: Due to the large amount of traffic on South Main Street and the Lordship Road on Sunday afternoon between the hours of two and five, it has been found necessary to close both South Main and Lordship Road to all traffic other than vehicles that are driven by people living in the Lordship district or working or connected with the Bridgeport Municipal Airport and Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. In order to close this street to persons who have no official business in the Lordship district and so as not to interfere with the people who work or reside in this district, the Stratford Police Department is having stickers printed to go upon the windshields of cars driven by such persons. These stickers can be obtained at the Lordship Fire House, Bridgeport Municipal Airport, Vought-Sikorsky Aircraft and Stratford Police Department. Will you kindly notify the personnel of your department that may have occasion to go to Lordship between the hours of 2 and 5 pm on Sundays to obtain necessary stickers in order for them to visit Lordship between the above stated hours. According to the Chief, the only persons being persecuted are those hundreds of sightseers who have made the trip past Sikorsky and the airport a popular route of Sunday afternoon travel. The tourists however will not be the only ones affected even those with official business in the prohibited area will have to go to some trouble to get the stickers.

February 6, 1942 - BAN ON TRAFFIC NEAR AIRPORT RELIEVES JAM: Chief Of Police Pleased At Success Of New Ruling: Following closely upon the publication of an editorial in the Stratford News commenting on the traffic jam on South Main Street and Lordship Meadows Road, near the municipal airport in Stratford and the Vought-Sikorsky plant, Chief of Police William Nichols ordered the closing of those roadways on Sunday afternoons between the hours of 2 and 5 pm. Only residents of Lordship and those having legitimate business at the airport or at the aircraft plant who had previously obtained special stickers were allowed to use the roads, thereby relieving the traffic in that area to a great extent. Chief Nichols expressed himself as highly pleased at the result of the experiment and it is likely that it will be made permanent. The stickers were distributed Saturday afternoon to all applicants who could show that they were residents of Lordship or had business at the airport or at the plant. The ban applies also to the Lordship Meadows Road where only cars bearing the little red stickers were permitted to pass. In commenting upon the result of the ban, Chief Nichols said that the highway in the vicinity of the two points of interest was exceptionally free of traffic. Before it went into effect, the chief said, it would have been impossible to get fire engines or an ambulance through either of the highways affected. The ban he said is aimed chiefly at sightseers who usually dawdle along or park obstructing traffic for the purpose of getting a look at the airport and the aircraft plant. No attempt has been made to deny stickers to anyone who is legitimately entitled to one. They are being given out at the Lordship Firehouse, the Vought-Sikorsky plant, the Remington Arms Company and Stratford and Bridgeport police headquarters. Replying to certain critics who have declared that the chief adopted these measures because he did not have enough officers to keep traffic moving the chief said: These precautions have been made necessary because of the heavy flow of traffic and the fact that many cars are parked along South Main Street disregarding the No Parking signs placed between Elm Street and Short Beach Road. Regardless of the number of tickets given these parking violators, some still continue to park in this area. This blocks the roadway and in case of an emergency, it would be impossible for soldiers to get to and from their quarters to the airport and also would prevent fire engines and the ambulance from getting through. It is not our desire to have this ban place a hardship on persons who must use the road and we are trying to eliminate this as far as possible.

April 12, 1942: STRATFORD WILL NOT PAY FOR NEW STREET: Although the State Highway Department is going to build a new Lordship road in the near future, the thoroughfare is not going to help the Lordship residents much. Plans approved by Washington and assigned to the State for actual construction of a new road which has been made necessary by a scheduled extension of the East-West runway at the airport will be built only to a spot near the State Motor Testing Lane and will not be continued to Lordship proper. The Town of Stratford has not been consulted about the new project and the government and the State apparently have gone ahead without consulting Town Manager Bill Shea or any other official. It is known however the State will ask the Town for 25% of the cost to take care of buying some of the necessary property. When this request formally is made to Town Officials the big State and Federal boys will be disappointed because the Town will ignore them as the Town bosses feel the project as outlined by present plans does not even affect Stratford. It is certain that the proposed road will not help the present transportation of the Lordshippers, a problem to Councilman Peter Ring and others for some time. The matter will be taken up at the Council meeting tomorrow night. A resolution recently arranged at a joint session of the Road Committee and Council Finance Committee will be heard by the rest of the Council and undoubtedly okayed. The resolution hits the payment of any 25% of costs for such a road by the Town and pledges the Town to ignore the State builders. If the Government and State wants to build a road out there where it will not do us any good, we will not kick, but at the same time we will not help them either, stated one Town official. Many of the Town officials feel it would be much better to spend the Town money and reconstruct or repair the present Lordship Road after alterations have been made to accommodate the runway extension than to stick money in the present project. A preliminary survey made by Town engineers some time ago has been ignored by the State builders and this is one factor which makes the Town sore. Stratford is going to give the Lordship residents a new improved route into Bridgeport they claim but they will not do anything until other builders finish their work out on the Meadows and then the Town will carry on from there. The Lordship Road has been condemned and while the Town, the State and the Government fights the residents out on the beach continue to wreck their cars running to and fro from the Park City every day.

1943: Lordship Meadow Thoroughfare Known as Dangerous Death Trap: Instead of the closing of the Lordship Meadows Road being an added nuisance to Stratford, the town is ridding itself of a nuisance. The old meadow road was a speedway and a general death trap which caused Stratford considerable trouble. Besides saving itself money, the ton is being relieved of the treacherous highway. Those crabbing about the extra distance the will have to travel on their precious B cards are making a mountain out of a mole hill. The fact is that the will have to travel less than two miles. The Lordship Meadow Road is being closed for all time because it was an obstruction to the planes landing and taking off at the new enlarged airport. Most of the travelers or workers who would be apt to use the old Lordship Road are those who readily can and do take the bus to work thus eliminating all supposed inconveniences. Although the Lordship road is being closed for good, it is only a temporary inconvenience. The War Department is going to build a new and better road, which will eliminate the dangerous old Meadows Road. The state has provided $28,000 for the relocation project, thus relieving Stratford of part of the financial burden. The Stratford share of the costs of the new road will be between $50,000 and $75,000 instead of the $130,000 it would have cost the town to build a new road unassisted. When the runways have been extended, the army will begin building the new road. The army will build up to where the old Lordship Road has been abandoned and the town then will improve the old road. Considering the jacked up prices of both material and labor since the war, Stratford is benefiting by the closing of the Lordship Meadows Road in every possible way.

June 15, 1943 - LORDSHIP ROAD ABANDONED, U.S. TO BUILD NEW HIGHWAY: The Lordship Meadow Road is closed to travel, not for the duration, but for all time. Frank Staples, president and treasurer of the Lordship Park Association, has been informed of this by Town of Stratford officials he said today. The War Department will eventually build a new road which will be better than the old one, Town officials said, but Mr. Staples doubts whether it will be ready for use this year. Residents of Lordship must travel about two miles further than usual in their trips from Bridgeport to their homes until the new road is built. They can now take the new Sikorsky Access Road built by the government from about midway on the Lordship road to South Main Street. Stratford and enter Lordship point by that street. The new road which the government has promised to build will swing off to the south from the Lordship Meadow Road from which about a mile and a quarter has been closed at a point where the new Sikorsky Access road intersects the old. Passing over the salt meadows the proposed new road will emerge on the high ground in Lordship at a point a few points north of Lordship Dance hall on Washington Parkway to intersect with Stratford Road. Mr. Staples said today that it is interesting to note the speed in which the U.S. Government moves in on the property rights of the individuals in time of war. He said that he was aware the War Department and the Navy had some ideas of acquiring some land, but that his corporations received the same short notice as did the citizens whose houses were moved to make room for government operations near the municipal airport. He said that both the Lordship Park Association and the Stratford Land & Improvement Company received telegrams on a Tuesday that the government was moving in on the following Saturday. Next he was asked to sign a right of entry for both companies and then he was served the papers by a United States Marshall and nearly 107 acres of land was taken over by Uncle Sam in four parcels. The purpose of taking the acreage he said was to prevent future building of houses at points where the buildings would be obstacles to the landing and taking off of aircraft of the enlarged airport. Sometime in the future, Mr. Staples said there will be a committee named to determine just how much the landowners will be paid for their property. Mr. Staples is also treasurer of the Stratford Land & Improvement Company which for over 50 years has been developing and draining the salt meadow land to exterminate the mosquitoes which used to invade the high ground, moving in clouds according to the direction of the wind. From the Stratford Land & Improvement and a number of individual owners the War Department has apparently taken 39 acres of salt meadows south of the Lordship road and two tracts north of the same road, one containing 28.6 acres and the other 32.3 acres. From the Lordship Park Association the government has taken nearly seven acres of high ground near Stratford Road and Prospect Drive in the same area where three property owners were obligated to move their houses. On the maps of the Stratford Land & Improvement Co. the layout of the proposed new road over the meadows will cut circular fashion through the plotted area from Oak Bluff Road to Stratford Road. The improvement of the salt meadows by the Stratford Land & Improvement Co. has perpetuated the program started by William Hopson which entailed building of a dike to stop flooding of the meadows by perigee tides, to dig drainage canals and purchase the salt meadow acreage which had been held in small parcels by farmers in various parts of the county who cut the salt hay every season for bedding down live stock. Since the reclamation operation has started much of the ground has been reclaimed as farming land and upland. The company for a number of years cut the hay with horses which had wooden boards fixed to their shoes to keep them from sinking in the marsh and flat boats were used in the dredged canals to get the hay to the high ground. Before the drainage system was installed the occasional high tides left about two inches of water on the several hundred acres of lowlands to become a breeding place for mosquitoes, once a pest for the whole community.

September 29, 1944: LORDSHIP ROAD CONSTRUCTION IS DELAYED BY HURRICANES HAVOC: Construction of the Lordship Road and the Oak Bluff Road which was scheduled to be started before the end of September on each highway, has been delayed indefinitely because of the tropical storm which came up the coast late on September 14. Some 12,000 cubic yards of the protective dike were shunted into Davy Jones locker by the wind and rain which were combined in the hurricane. Now some decision about paying for replacing that wall must be reached before road work is started. Reconstruction of the Lordship Road will be done by the federal and state governments sharing the cost. The town will pay a portion of the Oak Bluff Road expense. Early in the month, the Mariani Construction Company of New Haven was awarded the contract for the local work, submitting a low bid at something under $60,000. Lacking normal dike protection, road work becomes inadvisable. The Federal Public Roads Administration is consulting with the Army and the War Department and other offices in an effort to ascertain which will bear the cost of restoring the dike so that the highways will not be open to ruin by high tides or other unwelcome visitors. This street reconstruction has been pending for years and all kinds of delays have occurred. The present instance is said by Lordship residents to be the first which has had a sound reason behind it.

July 16, 1964: GREAT MEADOWS ROAD NAME CHANGE A MYSTERY: When a resolution to change the name of Great Meadows Road to Lordship Boulevard was brought up at Mondays Council meeting, several questions were raised by Councilman Arlio. Arlio first wanted to know who had sponsored the ordinance. Councilman Walter Auger of the Tenth District indicated that he had done so. Auger explained that the Connecticut Turnpike exit onto Great Meadows Road has been marked with signs reading Lordship Boulevard and that the new name had a more polite sound. William OLeary, Councilman from the Seventh District indicated that a request had been made at a Public Works Committee meeting by various professional people working to develop the area. They had indicated that the new name might be more appealing on brochures and other printed material used to attract prospective industrial buyers for property in the area. The interesting mistake by the State Department remained unexplained however. No one seemed to know how, why and when the highway sign with the new name Lordship Boulevard came to be erected at the Great Meadows Road exit. The mysterious foresight of the highway department may remain a deep secret forever, but it will no longer be an incongruity. That at least will be changed when the new name is officially proclaimed.

December 2, 1972 - THE PROPOSED HURRICANE DIKE: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently completed a draft environmental statement concerning their proposal for a Stratford Hurricane Protection Project. According to the Army Engineers, a proposed dike to be constructed in the Great Meadows Marsh and near the mouth of the Housatonic River would protect against the possibility of a flood to a height of 18.2 feet. The dike itself would be between 10 and 12 feet wide at the top and would necessitate the appropriation of some marshland, beach property and land near the Housatonic River. The Engineers have estimated that the total cost will be $14 million with about $3.5 million to be paid for by Stratford. The remaining funds would be provided by the federal government. The last time a substantial flood occurred in Stratford was in 1938 and there was considerable property damage at that time. However persons opposed to the diking project argue that floods in Stratford simply do not occur often enough to justify the construction of a dike 18.2 feet high. (The original plan drawn up by scientists from Texas A & M University called for the dike to be 13.2 feet high. However this was subsequently altered to 18.2 feet by the Army Corps of Engineers). Opponents also argue that the dike would seriously threaten the ecological survival of the Great Meadows Marsh which is itself a natural flood protection device, acting like a sponge to absorb storm surges and excess rainfall. In the 1938 hurricane it produced a tidal surge of 6.7 feet above normal. Mathematical calculations made by the Army Corps of Engineers have predicted that in the event of another similar hurricane, Stratford would be open to a tidal flood of 13.2 feet. This would, according to the Engineers, expose the entire southeastern part of Stratford to serious flooding. The protection against the possibility of this flood would be provided by a hook shaped dike running around the entire 2.9 mile boundary of Stratford. The only way to actually check to see if the Engineers predictions are accurate would be to go through a hurricane similar to that in 1938. This is of course impossible, but in 1963 the Town Council was suitably impressed with the Engineers presentation and it authorized them to go ahead with the study which has just been completed. There is however some disagreement as to just what the Town Council authorized. The Engineers claim that they were given approval for the project while local environmentalists say that this is a misinterpretation that the Town Council only approved the study of the possibility of a dike.

The Lordship Mosquito

1889 - It is said that mosketoes are not as plentiful as they were fifty years ago. In 1822, the lighthouse keeper lost a cow by the mosquitoes. He shut the cow in the barn, but the mosquitoes attacked her so numerously that she broke out of the barn in order to get away from the torment. Then they came in clouds and stung her so that she swelled as large as a hogshead and died from the effect.

October 7, 1872 - FORTY FIVE DOLLARS A TON FOR MOSQUITOS: Coming from any other source than the sober, statistical "Scientific American" we should utterly refuse credence to the story it relates and admitting its authenticity we are prepared to believe anything. That veracious journal describes a strange fertilizer. At Stratford, Connecticut, where mosquitoes are as thick as a fog, lives an ingenious Yankee, so they say, who puts these insects to profitable uses. He has invented a large revolving scoop-net, covered with lace, which is put in motion by a windmill, water-power, or steam. The lower half of the scoop is placed in water. The upper half moves through the atmosphere, and at each rotation draws an immense number of mosquitoes down into the water, where they drown and sink to the bottom. Every revolution of the net draws in an ounce of mosquitoes, or a ton for thirty-two thousand turns of the machine. The mosquitoes thus collected make a splendid manure for the land worth forty-five dollars a ton.

May 14, 1918 - MOSQUITO WAR AT LORDSHIP MEADOW HOTTER THAN EVER: Kerosene Bath for Little Nippers - Dikes Now Being Built Up. Every effort will be made this summer by Superintendent Edward Thompson of the Stratford Land and Improvement Company to do away with the hordes of mosquitoes that breed on the meadows just west of Lordship Park. Over 100 barrels of kerosene oil are to be used on these meadows in an effort to keep down the pests. Dikes are being repaired so as to keep the tide out and it is hoped that a great difference in the number of mosquitoes will be found this summer in Bridgeport and Stratford. This section is the greatest offender in the breeding of mosquitoes notwithstanding the fact that every year an effort is made to keep them down. Considerable oil has been used and dikes have been built but still the buzzing insects have been found to multiply and to annoy. Last year was a year that furnished many mosquitoes the reason being, according to Mr. Thompson, that it was a very wet season and the tides came over the dikes onto the meadows and left pools where the pests bred. If the season this year is not so wet and enough oil can be secured a vast difference will be found. At present Mr. Thompson and his men are at work on the repairing of the largest dike which was damaged by boys. It will lake at least one more week before this dike is repaired and then work will he started on the other dikes and on the oiling.

July 24, 1924 - MOSQUITOES INVADE LORDSHIP: Oiling of the Lordship meadows to keep down the mosquito pest has been done this year the same as in former years. The reason that there are so many is not because of failure to oil as one of the evening papers states, but because the oiling was not done early enough in the season. There are many mosquitoes not only along the Lordship meadows, but in all sections of the town and in addition to the buzzing pests there are plenty of the little gnats that make life miserable particularly in the evening.

August 13, 1927 - LORDSHIP BODY TO SEEK ASSISTANCE IN MOSQUITO WAR: Section Suffering under Scourge of Insects Is Complaint - Realizing that some drastic measures are necessary to cope with the trouble and effect a remedy the Lordship Manor Association passed a strong resolution at its regular meeting urging that the town of Stratford be asked to take steps to eradicate the mosquito pest that has scourged Lordship manner this summer. According to statements submitted at the meeting the annoyance caused by these insects did not nearly come up to the actual menace, from a health point of view that the mosquitoes had constituted this season. A large number of people had suffered considerably from mosquito bites, and it was imperative therefore that something should be done to stamp out the nuisance. All Lordship is unanimous in the resolution that the residents will cooperate as far as they possibly can with any movement that Stratford can make to destroy the mosquito pest. Among other things that came up for discussion by the Association was the general fall program of improvements for next season and the cutting through of several roads to open up new sections and the necessity for additional street lights.

November 4, 1927 - MOSQUITO AREA IN MEADOWS HIT BY AIRPORT IS BELIEF: Colonel Delacour Contends Dredging and Draining Will Benefit Stratford - Establishment of the new airport at Lordship will in the opinion of Colonel Rex DeLacour, president of the Bridgeport Airport Incorporated do much to eliminate the mosquito nuisance which for many years has been the bane of existence of South End residents during the summer months. The place where the new airport is being constructed is in the very heart of the salt meadow land where most of the mosquitoes breed. Building of the airport landing field with its drainage and filling operations, will greatly reduce the mosquito breeding area. It is also pointed out by Colonel DeLacour that it is quite possible that the waste motor oil which accumulates in great quantities at an aviation field will be used to kill off the mosquitoes in which stagnant pools as may remain on the meadows in the vicinity of the airport after the construction work is finished. The elimination of mosquito breeding places in ponds of the Lordship meadows was cited by Colonel DeLacour as one of the side benefits the town of Stratford will receive as a result of the establishment here of the new airport. Councilman Vernon Morehouse of the Third district who held a meeting Tuesday night for the purpose among other things of ascertaining whether his constituents desired to have him ask the council to reconsider its approval of the airport corporations request to dig a seaplane basin or channel through the west river bank is still unconvinced that a majority of the townspeople approve of the move despite the fact that not a single person at Tuesdays meeting voted to have him ask for reconsideration. He also stated that the matter will not be brought up by him again.


Skeetes 1889

1938 Salt Meadows

1938 Salt Meadows


The bug sprayer

January 23, 1938 - DIKE IS BUILT TO PREVENT DAILY INUNDATION BY SWEEPING TIDES: The ominous drone of gigantic bombing planes, huge ships of the air bearing their horrid burden of sudden death and destruction, is the current menace to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in China. Down is Stratford and in other shore-front towns and cities of Connecticut during the summer months, the peace time counterpart of that air menace is found in the high pitched song of the mosquito. And instead of an army in khaki striving to repulse the enemy from the skies, a state wide Works Progress Administration project coming under the general heading of Pest Control, is employing large forces of men in an effort to rout the ubiquitous mosquito. Mosquitoes also bear a burden of destruction less severe in its ultimate effect than that of the above mentioned bombing planes, yet equally important from the standpoint of public health. For the mosquito has been tried and found guilty of spreading disease, not to mention other forms of physical discomfort so well known though perhaps painfully to young or old, rich or poor. Mosquito control was started in Stratford more or less accidentally. Certainly the old records would indicate that the control of this pest was incidental to work started in 1886-87 by the late William Hopson, who then owned the greater part of Lordship and of the Great Salt Marsh in Stratford. Mr. Hopson had a dream, a fanciful dream no doubt in that day and age, yet one which later developments proved the soundness of his vision. He dreamed of making Lordship a Connecticut Newport. In that period the twice daily tides completely inundated the Great Marsh and Hopson conceived the idea of controlling the water by means of a huge dike. Once this was done he planned to ditch and drain the marshland making it usable for building fine residences, for Hopson envisioned a prosperous community of well-to-do families there. At that time Lordship was known to the natives as Mosquitoville and Hopsons ideas must have caused many a chuckle. Not in the least daunted by the seemingly overwhelming odds against him, Hopson started work on building the dike, using a scow on which he had rigged a digger of his own patent which included a winch operated by a steam engine. The machine had been built in Philadelphia and whenever a part broke, as parts frequently did, long delays were encountered before work could be resumed. However, working as the tides permitted sometimes by day and other times by night, the project went along and in 1890 the dike was completed from Lordship to Honeyspot Road, a distance of approximately 2.5 miles. Soon the natives noted a decided decrease in the numbers of mosquitoes and since this was attributed to the dike, with its appurtenant ditches and drains, people began to take serious note of what was going on. An interesting sidelight on the prevalence of the mosquito in those early days is found in old Stratford records. For example, we find that marsh land could not be sold for grazing purposes because of the pest and also that if a man failed to mow his marsh hay and reap it by November first, anyone who so desired could go in and help himself. Interest in the dike building operations increased to the extent that the town took official notice of it. While in Holland on a business trip, Jack Bosterman interested himself in the manner of building dikes there. So interested was he that he induced a Mike Connors to return to America with him. Connors was an expert in dike construction and agreed to undertake the assignment. Being well schooled in the proper methods of cutting the marsh bogs and laying them up in a manner which most effectively held back the pounding surf, Connors proved of great value in directing Stratfords dike building operations. Noting the decided benefits to human and animal comfort deriving from the operations in the Great Marsh area, Stratford officials authorized a collection either by tax or donation for clearing out the old ditches. In this manner, $400 was realized proving that Stratford has been mosquito-conscious in more ways than one for a long time. By 1918 the elements and the rats had created no little damage to the dike. Holes had been torn in its banks by the rush of the tides and rats had burrowed in making it necessary to begin a program of reconstruction. So in that year, a drag line was used and the dike was raised several feet along its entire length. From 1918 to 1930 very few repairs were made and in 1929 the tide gates were ripped away by the tremendous force of the water. The Town of Stratford in 1930 took over the work of repairing the dike as a means of providing work for the unemployed. From then on it became successively a CWA, FERA and now is a WPA project. Unemployed men from Stratford and vicinity were put to work there at various times. Having been allowed to go for a period of ten years without repairs, much work was ahead. Newer methods of dike construction were introduced to keep the rats out. Ground glass provided of little or no effect toward halting their burrowing. Finally, small mesh chicken wire was used with great success, a layer being placed between the last layer of mud and the sod outside the banks of the dike. This makes it impenetrable for at least about ten years. Although Stratford used great quantities of oil over a period of years in an effort to kill mosquito larvae in the small pools and sluggish ditches, sometimes using 4,000 gallons a week, it was found that oil was not the answer to the question in its entirety. A breeze of sufficient volume would blow the oil from the surface in one section, thus defeating the purpose of shutting off the air from the wriggling embryo mosquitoes. Or a heavy rain would wash it away. Experiments were made with bottles of oil with wicks protruding from them, designed to keep a constant film over the pools. This plan was not successful for various reasons. Then the idea of soaking sawdust in oil and spreading it on the water was tried and while it partially answered the question, it was later abandoned as a mosquito prevention practice. Experiments carried on over a long period of years by Dr. W.E. Britton, State Entomologist, having established the fact that Aedes Solicitans and A. Cantatus (the salt water mosquito) cannot breed in active water, men in charge of the mosquito elimination work proceeded on that theory and dug their ditches in such a way that they could be flushed at regular intervals by use of the tide gates. Earlier ditching had been done leaving the drains with sloping banks. Time and experience proved however, that flies and mosquitoes would breed rapidly in the moist bank slopes. Consequently, modern mosquito ditches have straight sides, are from two feet to twenty-six inches deep and from twelve to fourteen inches wide. It seems perfectly obvious that the elimination of so wretched a pest as the mosquito would tend to increase property values and this is actually the case in the Stratford area particularly in the vicinity of Lordship and the airport. Last year saw the construction of fourteen new houses in Lordship and the population of that section has increased so rapidly that it was necessary to build a new grade school there. This building incidentally was also a WPA project. Another bit of evidence of the efficacy of the Stratford mosquito control work is found in the fact that last year the Crystal Ballroom in Lordship has a successful season. Dancing indoors in warm weather, with windows closed is decidedly not a pleasant pastime. But the mosquito is no respecter of persons and until last year the windows of this ballroom had to be kept closed because of the pest. Last summer it was very different. Large crowds attended the dances and the windows were safely left open. Two years ago was the first time that the parking question at Lordship had ever become an acute problem. Again it was the mosquitoes that made for ample parking space at the beach resort. Last year the town had issued 3,300 parking permit tickets before July first. Life is sweeter in Lordship as a result of the mosquito elimination work. The improvement of the great dike and the drainage system has made possible the filling in of a great number of acres for airport use. Plans are projected for filling in a still larger space for the air field work which could not have been successfully accomplished had not all this drainage work been done and this dike and the tide gates repaired so as to control the high tides. Quite apart from this commercial advantage, residents in the vicinity which has drained now find that they are no longer troubled with water in their cellars. Formerly it had been impossible to cope with this serious situation. Opinions to the contrary notwithstanding, it has been established that the natural marine growth which provides food for the fish and game has not been adversely affected by the dike and drainage operations there. Ditches are flushed daily, thus keeping a constant supply of plant and fish food flowing through the smallest channels. There are schools of thought on this question which are at distinct variance with one another. However while fish and game are not seriously affected in this area, those in charge of operations under WPA ask a pertinent question: Shall we have a few more fish or game with the old mosquito conditions or is it more desirable to make human life more endurable through the elimination of the pest? While there are two distinct species of malaria mosquitoes, Dr. Briton points out that the salt marsh mosquito, formerly so abundant in Stratford and vicinity is also known to be a carrier of the dread malady. And the ideal breeding places for malaria mosquitoes is found in the regions just back of the salt marshes where brackish pools form. One hears much these days of the more abundant life. It may seem paradoxical, but the less abundant mosquito life becomes, the more abundant human life becomes. And few will quarrel with the statement that the later form of abundance is much more to be desired.