Cornwall Bridge

The settlement known as Cornwall Bridge lies toward the southern end of Cornwall along the Housatonic River. Early in the life of the town a ferry crossed the river to Sharon. The community then became the site of a succession of bridges, including a covered bridge that was washed away in the 1936 flood. It was early known as the South Depot; then as Lewis’ Bridge, and also as Deantown.

Dr. Reuben Dean built Cornwall’s first mill, known as the Red Mill, about 1750. Mills–sawmills, fulling mills, gristmills–were built along the streams that ran into the Housatonic.

Cornwall Bridge arrived as a commercial center only after the Housatonic Railroad came through. As historian Edward Starr wrote, it then boasted “a blacksmith’s shop, a vinegar factory, three stores, a Methodist Episcopal Church and railroad station.” Farmers brought their milk to Cornwall Bridge for shipment to New York City and Bridgeport. In the 1920s, a carload of milk and another of “Berkshire Spring” water from bounteous local source, went daily from Cornwall to New York.

Cornwall Bridge was the location of what was probably Cornwall’s largest factory building ever, the Cornwall Bridge Iron Company. Sited on what came to be known as Furnace Brook, it opened in 1833. The remains of the charging wall, furnace stack, dam, race, retaining walls of the charcoal storage sheds, casting sheds, and wheel pit were more or less visible along Furnace Brook throughout the 20th century.

Cornwall Bridge’s school district, Number Eight, was formed in 1804. In 1840, the schoolhouse was moved to make room for the railroad. Perhaps as a result of dwindling population, District Eight was merged in 1908 with Districts One and Thirteen. The town then consolidated these into District One–constructing a new schoolhouse that was later enlarged to two rooms.

In the late 1920s, the state of Connecticut built a large concrete bridge across the river and retired the covered bridge to foot traffic. The old business district, which was centered on the road that ran along the river, was gradually relocated at the junction of Routes 4 and 7.

South of Cornwall Bridge was the small settlement of Puffingham. Enterprises were a smith, store, some manufacturing, and possibly a post office. In the 1920s it became a Jewish settlement with a rabbi and regular religious services. Starr observed that “the Hebrews” have “recently settled near Cornwall Bridge numerously enough to make ‘Jerusalem’ the trainman’s name for a station there.”