From 1844, when rail service was established in Cornwall, through the mid-1870s the decreased in industry and population resulting in the regrowth of forests in northwestern Connecticut. It was also during this time that a shift in preference of portraiture to landscape panting occurred.
A group of artists from the National Academy of Design capitalized on this trend and began long painting excursions along the Housatonic River in Search of, what they felt were, quintessential American landscapes.
Several artists associated with that group, as well as some that were not, came to paint or draw Cornwall around the turn of the century. David Johnson, George Henry Durrie, John Bunyan Bristol, Pitt Parker, and E.W. Kemble, among others, painted here.
The locations most often painted by traveling artists were the Cathedral Pines, the Housatonic River, and the West Cornwall covered bridge.