History of Our State Parks
The Connecticut State Park System was established in 1913 to fulfill the mission of making outdoor recreation and education available to all residents and visitors of the state for the benefit of their health, prosperity, and enjoyment. The system was to include state park and forest recreation areas, environmental centers, and nature centers to provide learning opportunities, access, awareness, and appreciation of the state’s historic, cultural and natural resources.
At the time, industrialization was full swing, railroads crisscrossed the landscape, and the state’s most prized natural gems were rapidly becoming unaffordable real estate. It was an ideal moment to secure public lands to meet the growing demands of an increasingly congested population concentrated in cities with limited opportunity to recreate outdoors.
The newly created Park Commission began by identifying locations of natural beautify and historical significance, starting with a tract of land in Westport, later designated as Sherwood Island State Park and Connecticut’s first state park. Over the course of the following century and beyond, the Connecticut State Park system has grown to a vast system of 142 state parks and forests, putting residents no more than a fifteen minutes’ drive to a park. This impressive network, stands testament to the commitment and leadership of the earliest visionaries to all who have contributed since.