River Road, West Cornwall, from a glass plate negative, unknown date
Collection of Cornwall Historical Society

The first Arbor Day celebration in Connecticut was held on April 29, 1887. The Governor’s proclamation stated the lofty goal of lining every street and covering every barren hillside with trees. To encourage the planting of certain trees along public roads, the state offered to pay ten cents annually for five years for each tree properly planted and maintained. The approved trees included elm, maple, oak, hickory and apple.

“Nothing can add so to the beauty of our country roads as long avenues of fine trees. One sees this happily illustrated in many countries in Europe for hundreds of miles on a stretch…. The shade and beauty would be grateful to every traveler, but doubly so to the planter, as the happy experience of many of our farmers can now testify.”

~ Birdsey Grant Northrop, “Arbor Day—What to Plant and How to Plant,” Annual Meeting of the Connecticut Board of Agriculture, January 1888

Pine Street, Cornwall Village, circa 1900
Collection of Cornwall Historical Society

“I want to say, on this matter of tree-planting by the roadside, that there is no greater farm waste than shading your farms by useless trees…. It is one of the growing evils of farming in the State of Connecticut that we are permitting these trees to grow in every corner of our land and around every fence, and they make our farming land look hideous. Cut them down!”

~ S. S. West, Annual Meeting of the Connecticut Board of Agriculture, January 1888