Ballyhack Preserve, 2012
Collection of Cornwall Historical Society

Ballyhack Preserve is one of a small number of surviving “old growth” forests in Connecticut and is home to the second-tallest pine tree in Connecticut, an Eastern White Pine last measured at 149 feet in height.

The Ballyhack ravine and pine forest was owned in the early 20th century by Edith Woolsey, daughter of Yale President Theodore Dwight Woolsey. The forest was known as Woolsey Pines for a time.

“My sister’s timber [includes] a considerable piece [which] is older; in fact, she bought it to save it from the traveling saw mill. Its pines seed themselves and are encroaching upon the meadow. Probably this is where the future value lies, in the pine. This is naturally a pine country.”

~ Theodore Salisbury Woolsey, writing about Ballyhack, circa 1925

Edith’s nephew, Theodore Salisbury Woolsey, Jr., was an early graduate of the Yale School of Forestry and spent his summers at Ballyhack.

The land remained in the Woolsey family until 1962, when it was acquired by Nancy Sales Day.

Woolsey and Calhoun families, circa 1890
Collection of Cornwall Historical Society

From left: Theodore Salisbury Woolsey, Jean Ellinwood Woolsey (wife of George Woolsey and sister of Marjorie E. Calhoun), Edith Woolsey, Agnes Woolsey Heermance (possibly), Marjorie Ellinwood Calhoun, John Edward Calhoun.

Front row: George Woolsey (husband of Jean, brother of George and Edith), Theodore Salisbury Woolsey, Jr. (possibly)

Picnic at Ballyhack, circa 1900
Collection of Cornwall Historical Society

In 1969, the 55-acre forest was given to The Nature Conservancy with the intention that it be “maintained in essentially natural and undeveloped state.” It was transferred to the Cornwall Conservation Trust in 2005.

Access to Ballyhack is located on Route 125, just south of Dibble Hill Road. A trail map is available on the Cornwall Conservation Trust website.

Old windthrow at Ballyhack, 2012
Collection of Cornwall Historical Society