As we leave Southington behind us, the trail becomes less defined and a little tricky to follow. Busy streets, highway entrances and exit ramps, sprawling storefronts and traffic swallow up any trace of the Farmington canal route that once rolled gently through this central Connecticut landscape. In fact, between Southington and Farmington where the trail splits off to make the Farmington River Trail, much of the route is incomplete. But hidden between the finished route that borders Southington’s busy downtown district and the proposed route that reaches up into Farmington, there is a small link that many Canaltrekkers may overlook in their journey. This short piece of trail, a paved bike route that meanders and flows along existing roads, leads us on a brief journey through the sleepy town of Plainville, CT.
According to town historian, Ruth Hummel, during the Farmington Canal’s heyday, carriages built in Plainville were loaded onto canal boats and sent south to New Haven, then transported by ship to southern states where they were widely used. Today if you look carefully you can spot traces of the canal route in Plainville; a small waterway that meanders through a residential neighborhood, quiet train tracks stretch out as far as the eye can see, yet another street sign signifying Canal Street–all subtle reminders of the route that once carried our hero Shannon McCarthy through this quiet New England town.
But it was not long before we completed the short trek through town and looked northward where the proposed route extends for the next several miles. We will pick up the trail again in Farmington, CT, the beginning of Connecticut’s longest continuous stretch of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail as it reaches all the way to the Massachusetts border, carrying us further in this journey of discovery and exploration.