The Discover Small Town America Tour takes us all over the country and we’re always on the lookout for new small towns we’ve never “met” (especially those with unusual stories and residents, charm, architecture, history, etc.). But sometimes we forget there are awesome places to discover right in our own backyard. Such was the case recently when we decided to tour nearby Collinsville, located just up the road from our old stomping grounds in North Central CT. The weather was spectacular for our 4th of July weekend excursion.
Before starting our walking tour of Collinsville, we took a nearly 4-mile power walk along the Farmington River Trail (FRT). According to its website, The FRT “is an 18.2-mile loop trail in Farmington and Simsbury and passes through the villages of Unionville and Collinsville and the towns of Burlington and Canton (Although we’re big walkers, the entire FRT was a little too ambitious even for us!). For much of its length, the trail nestles against the banks of the Farmington River tracing the route of the old “Canal Line” railroad. While the trail passes by some of the area’s loveliest landscapes, it also contains the longest stretches of on road riding.”
We’d like to give a BIG shout out to town leaders, volunteers and all the other people and institutions that provided the vision and support needed to make spectacular public trails, bikeways and parks possible in small towns and big cities throughout America.
A Classic Small Town Main Street
After completing our walk (8,000 steps on our pedometers) we meandered up Main Street which is “home” to several thriving small businesses, including the bustling Lasalle Market.
We stopped in the Market (http://bit.ly/1tc5PeX) for some cool refreshment and the place was hopping. People were sitting inside and out enjoying the market’s homemade vittles. Although hungry after all her exercise, Rorie refrained from chowing down on the mouth watering slices of pizza that were calling her name. Such will power.
After our quick break, we continued exploring the village and sauntered along its side streets. The historic homes decked out in their holiday flags and bunting, and the pristine church represent period architecture and are spectacular.
We headed down to the nearby Farmington River, the power source for turbines and power machines used by the historic Collins Company Axe Factory. The mill operated from 1826 to 1966. According to Wikipedia, the Collins Company was “a world renowned manufacturer of edge tools, such as axes, machetes, picks and knives. Collins machetes were the brand of choice in South America. Collins tools were used almost exclusively for the construction of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and axes and picks made their way across the country to be used in the California Gold Rush. Admiral Peary carried Collins tools to the North Pole.” We wondered if Lizzie Borden was a customer of the axe factory too!
Rorie spotted a cool looking shop at the bottom end of Main Street and decided to give a “look-see”. Called America the Beautiful Country Store (http://bit.ly/VQ4rQz), the shop sells gorgeous furniture made by 8 Amish and 1 Mennonite families and other home products. Rorie had a nice visit with the owners, Greg and Kellee whose pride in and enthusiasm for the wares sold at the shop were unmistakable. Definitely stop in and see what American furniture-makers have to offer.
Next we headed to Collinsville Canoe and Kayak (http://cckstore.com), located right around the corner from Main Street on the Farmington River. Family owned and operated since 1990, CC&K has an amazing array of colorful canoes and kayaks which they allow you to “try before you buy” on the Farmington River. You can even rent kayaks from them and float your boat right there. What a place and what a beautiful setting!
After taking in the sights of folks canoeing, kayaking and paddle boarding, we decided to call it a day. And, what a wonderful day it was. Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel Magazine named Collinsville one of “America’s 10 Coolest Small Towns” in 2007. After our spectacular day strolling the town and taking in all its charm and beauty, we certainly know why it got Frommer’s accolades.