About us: history, genealogy, Americana Catalog



 Lime Rock

 Virtual tour of Lime Rock

But why Lime Rock?  Why do a heritage walk of Lime Rock anyway?  What's so special about Lime Rock?

In New England, almost every village positively reeks of history.  Especially here in the Northwest Corner of Connecticut, each village green is more picturesque than the last one, and every stand of colonial houses outdoes the last one.  When you live here, you get used to it. 

Lime Rock is picturesque, all right, but it is also quite different.  It's almost impossible to visualize as you drive down the main drag, but what you see as Lime Rock today was, less than 100 years ago, corporate headquarters for the preeminent manufacturer of railroad car wheels in the world.  (Remember that railroads were to the 1870s what "dot.coms" were to the 1990s, and you'll begin to get a sense of just how important Lime Rock really was back then.) 

However, that's only the high point of Lime Rock's history.  Lime Rock was the place where smelting iron -- so-called "Salisbury Iron" -- in the Upper Housatonic Valley started, back in 1736 when Thomas Lamb built a forge on the Salmon Kill in "the Hollow" section of Lime Rock.  Several other companies built forges and blast furnaces in the years before 1840, when the Barnum and Richardson families started the industrial combine usually referred to as Barnum Richardson, or, occasionally, BARCO. 

To give a sense of how this company dominated the railroad wheel industry, consider this bit of folklore: it was widely said back then that instead of "clickety-clack" the real sound railroad wheels made was "Barnum Richardson, Barnum Richardson." 

The company at its peak owned eight blast furnaces in the area, and had at least some measure of control over perhaps 20 more.  With fabricating plants in Lime Rock -- right next door to headquarters, by the way -- it also had a plant in Chicago, and mines not only in nearby Lakeville, but also in the Lake Superior Iron Range.  The company had close ties to other companies in the industry in such places as West Virginia, and William H. Barnum, the chairman of the company, was a US Senator, Chairman of the US Democratic Committee, president of the Housatonic Railroad, president of the Central New England Railroad, and a principal in the Tampa, St. Petersburg and Key West Railroad in Florida.

As benevolent employers -- perhaps because they felt benevolence was an important factor in creating a dedicated and productive workforce -- Barnum Richardson created a model company town: Lime Rock.

To cap it all off -- and contributing heavily to making Lime Rock today an historic gem -- Barnum Richardson failed to keep up with advancing technology and the eastern works -- which included the Lime Rock operation -- was bankrupt by 1917 and completely out of business by 1923  The village, virtually abandoned at first, became an artist colony, and then home to a world-famous road racing facility.  These successive transformations left much of the Barnum and Richardson company town infrastructure intact. 

Anyway, the question we started out answering was "Why Lime Rock?"  Hopefully we've provided a good answer!

To the main Lime Rock page to return to the main Lime Rock page!

Visit our BLOG



Find us on Facebook

Contacting us:

Between the Lakes Group is located at 372 Between the Lakes Road, in Salisbury, Litchfield County, Connecticut.  More specifically, we're in Taconic -- a hamlet  in the Twin Lakes area of the Town of Salisbury.  Questions about us or about our products?  Go to our Frequently Asked Questions page.  

Postal address:
Post Office Box 13
          Taconic, CT  06079-0013
Electronic mail:
Please Contact us to contact us via e-mail