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The Saugatuck River is a 23.7-mile-long (38.1 km)[1] river in southwestern Connecticut in the United States. It drains part of suburban and rural Fairfield County west of Bridgeport, emptying into Long Island Sound.

USS Saugatuck, a U.S. Navy oiler that saw service in World War II, was named after the river.[2]


The Saugatuck River issues from Sugar Hollow Pond, its headwaters located at exactly 41°20'50.4"N 73°28'06.4"W[3] approximately 3 miles (5 km) southwest of downtown Danbury. It flows generally southeast, passing through the Saugatuck Reservoir (283 feet (86 m) above sea level), then turns south-southwest. In Westport, it broadens into a navigable estuary along its lower 5 miles (8 km) and enters Long Island Sound approximately 4 miles (6 km) southeast of Norwalk. Interstate 95 crosses the river near its mouth downstream from Westport center. The river is wadeable along much of its course and is a popular seasonal destination for trout fishing, with the state of Connecticut stocking the river annually.[4]

In the 17th century the river was the site of a Paugusset settlement. The name of the river means "river that flows out" in the Paugusset language.[5] The land east of the river was opened to white settlement in 1637 after the defeat of the Pequots by John Mason in the Pequot War. After treaties with the local tribes, members of the Connecticut Colony began to settle the area between the Saugatuck and the Norwalk rivers to the west between 1639 and 1661. In the 18th century farming villages sprang up along the river, which was the principal means of transportation. During the 19th century, the lower river became the site of warehouses and shipyards, as well as an important hub of maritime commerce. The town of Westport was incorporated out of the existing village of Saugatuck at the mouth of the Saugatuck River and several surrounding communities in 1835.

In 1908, the author Samuel Clemens moved into a villa he named "Stormfield" built on a hill overlooking the Saugatuck River in Redding, Connecticut.[6] Clemens died in 1910, and the original Stormfield was destroyed in a 1923 fire.[7]

Bridgeport Hydraulic Company Holdings (now owned by Aquarion) flooded portions of the Saugatuck River Valley in Weston, Redding, and Easton after 1938,[8][9] displacing the villages of Hull and Valley Forge[10][11] to create the Saugatuck Reservoir.[12]


In Westport, Route 136 crosses the river on the Saugatuck River Bridge, built in 1882, the oldest surviving moveable bridge in Connecticut. The moveable section consists of a hand-cranked swing span made of two pin-connected Pratt trusses. The bridge replaced a wooden truss structure erected in 1873. Before that, a ferry service, started in 1746, helped passengers cross the river.[13]

Saugatuck River, Westport, Connecticut

The crossings of the Saugatuck River are (from mouth to source):


The REO Speedwagon song 157 Riverside Avenue mentions the river in its lyrics.

Secrets of Redding Glen, a children's book written and illustrated by Jo Polseno, chronicles the natural cycle of wildlife along a section of the Saugatuck River.[14]

Panoramic view looking out from Saugatuck Bridge, Westport, CT, USA - 2012.jpg
Panoramic view looking out from Saugatuck Bridge, Westport, CT, USA

See also


  1. ^ "Saugatuck River, CT, USA". USGS The National Map. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  2. ^ "Saugatuck". NHHC. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  3. ^ New York and Hartford Railroad (1845). Report of the Executive Committee Upon the Statistics of Business. Press of Case, Tiffany and Burnham. pp. 59–60.
  4. ^ "Connecticut Fish Stocking Report" (PDF). Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  5. ^ Hughes, Arthur H.; Allen, Morse E. (1976). Connecticut Place Names. Connecticut Historical Society. Cited in "About the Name". Saugatuck Technology. Archived from the original on 2006-10-25. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  6. ^ Beard, Dan (January–June 1910). Mark Twain as a Neighbor. pp. 705–708. ((cite book)): |work= ignored (help)
  7. ^ MacDonnell, Kevin (2006). "A Virtual Tour of Mark Twain's Last Home With a Glimpse of His Library". Antiquarian Booksellers' Association of America. Retrieved 2019-09-27.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  8. ^ "FIGHT RESERVOIR PROJECT; Residents Offer to Finance a Suit by Weston, Conn". The New York Times. 1937-11-27. p. 9. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  9. ^ "SUE TO PREVENT DAM; Saugatuck Valley Residents Seek Injunction and $250,000". The New York Times. 1938-02-03. p. 10. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  10. ^ Miner, Marcia (2009-11-03). "Valley Forge Forever Gone". Archived from the original on 2009-11-03. Retrieved 2019-09-27.
  11. ^ Miller, Robert (2006-03-26). "The rise and fall of Valley Forge". NewsTimes. Retrieved 2019-09-27.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  12. ^ Lomuscio, James (2005). Village of the Dammed: The Fight for Open Space and the Flooding of a Connecticut Town. University Press of New England. ISBN 978-1-58465-477-3.
  13. ^ Westport Historical Society, plaque in the carriage barn part of the museum, read on September 30, 2007
  14. ^ "Redding, Connecticut". Redding Land Trust, Inc. 2014-07-14. Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved 2019-09-27.

Further reading

41°07′30″N 73°22′08″W / 41.125°N 73.369°W / 41.125; -73.369