Shepaug River to be explored via Zoom programs

Gunn Historical Museum in Washington will present a two-part lecture about the Shepaug River via Zoom in the coming days.

Edwin Matthews, president of the Shepaug River Association, will lead the presentations that will include a slideshow with photos from the collection at the museum, followed by a discussion with the audience.

The first lecture, “The Story of a River: Contrasting History of the Shepaug,” will be offered July 20 at 6:30 p.m.

The Shepaug River has been flowing since the ice left Connecticut perhaps 30,000 years ago.

Its storied history incudes the Native Americans, who occupied the valley for many thousands of years, followed by opportunistic European colonists, and then by all manner of industry and finally a steam railroad along its banks.

At the turn of the last century, its natural beauty drew city folks to enjoy and later to preserve the river landscape.

In 1955, a dramatic flood destroyed the Washington Depot river front, which with commitment to community was restored.

The second lecture, “The Story of a River: Rallies to Save the Shepaug,” will be held Aug. 3 at 6:30 p.m.

In recent times, the Shepaug has been threatened by diversions of its water to Waterbury: in summer months, the river went dry.

In the 1920s, valley citizens had been caught off-guard when the headwaters were sold to the Waterbury Water Company. In 1921 a contract was signed that was hoped would protect the river but did not.

In the 1990s river advocates mobilized to save their river. Their battle led to complex litigation and in 2005 to a settlement agreement with Waterbury which has restored river flows for future generations.

Registration is required for the programs. To register, visit