During the nineteenth century, a trip to the beach was a major expedition, not something to be undertaken lightly. Because of the difficulties of travel, people went to the shore for weeks or months at a time. Only the very well-to-do could afford such extended vacations, and the less-than-affluent primarily frequented those resorts that were easily accessible by railroad. The advent of the automobile changed all of that. Connecticut is a small state, and every part of its coast is within easy day-tripping distance. A family could pack a picnic, pile in the car, and be at Rocky Neck or Hammonassett or Sherwood Island in an hour or two. The development of these new state parks assured beach access to everyone with an automobile. A collection of photographs here at the Connecticut Historical Society shows the Schaber family of Hartford at Rocky Neck and Hammonassett during the 1940s. A row of automobiles looms in the background of a snapshot showing the family lounging beneath a beach umbrella at Meigs Point in 1949. Meigs Point, a part of Hammonassett Beach State Park, had served as an aircraft firing range during World War II, and the area had been closed to the public. Facilities in 1949 still appear to have been somewhat limited. Today the park boasts several large bathhouses, a huge campground, and, of course, vast parking lots to accommodate the cars of thousands of visitors. A nature center is located at Meigs Point, overlooking the expansive marshes.
A Day at the Beach