Canaan Connecticut

Southwest view of the Housatonic Falls, Canaan

CANAAN was sold at auction in New London, in January, 1738. The settlement began in June of the same year. The first inhabitants were Daniel and Isaac Lawrence, John Franklin, and others who joined the settlement about the same time. The town was incorporated in 1739. The first clergyman in the town was the Rev. Elisha Webster, who was ordained in October, 1740.

Canaan is 41 miles northwest from Hartford, bounded north by the Massachusetts line, east by Norfolk, west by the Housatonic, dividing it from Salisbury, and south by Cornwall. It is about 9 miles in length from north to south, and its average breadth about six.

The falls represented in the above engraving, are formed by a ledge of limestone rocks, crossing the Housatonic river obliquely from northwest to southeast: the length of the ledge is about 30 rods, its perpendicular height perhaps 60 feet, and its front irregular and broken. Here, in a formidable mass on the western side, and on the eastern, the water rushes from the rapid torrent above, and descending in every variety of form, with the mass of foam at the bottom rising in a misty cloud, and the surrounding scenery presents a scene of remarkably picturesque beauty. There are falls and rapids both above and below the main cataract, but of much smaller scale. "The whole descent," says Dr. Dwight, "is about 130 feet, nobly arranged and distributed, and comprehending a remarkable variety of beauty and grandeur."

The buildings connected with the "Salisbury Iron Manufacturing Co." are situated a short distance above the main fall, on the Salisbury side of the Housatonic; there are also iron works below the falls, a forge and anchor shop are on the Canaan side. This place is 18 miles from Litchfield, 45 miles from Hartford, and 4 from Salisbury center.

The face of the township is broken and mountainous. Considerable quantities of limestone have been quarried.


Reference: Connecticut Historical Collections......History and Antiquities of Every Town in Connecticut......2D Ed.; John Warner Barber, 1798-1885; Publisher: Durrie and Peck and JW, 1837.

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