History of Cove Landing
In 1669, William Lord-( son of Thomas Lord, who, with Hooker, founded Hartford)- purchased a large parcel of land from the locally famous Cheif Joshua Attawanwood.
In the early seventeen hundreds, trade with the West Indies came to the Connecticut River. The Lord family eventually became very involved in trade with the West Indies, and had ships coming and going out of Essex for many years. During the late seventeen-hundreds, the Lord’s thought to bring the ships to their own docks. In 1827 the townsfolk took advantage of a small river that ran into Hamburg Cove from the Sterling City area, and developed a sluice way system, bringing sand down to fill in the swampy land and built a bulkhead- creating “Cove Landing,” which improved loading and unloading cargo. 1827 was also the year that the Eight Mile River Channel Company was founded to make the Cove navigable from the Connecticut River to the village of Hamburg. The owners charged a toll for passage, ranging from $1 for smaller vessels drawing less than 4 1/2 feet to $2.12 cents for larger ships.
Large schooners brought goods like molasses and rum from the Carribean along with fancy textiles to Lyme. In return, they loaded barrel staves, wooden coffin handles and wooden nails, and tinware. In the 1800’s they shipped railroad ties “down east” to create the earliest railways and brought back granite. As many as 100 ships a year came to trade goods at the present site of Cove Landing.
Some ships were actually built here and floated out to the deeper outer cove on barrels. A small shipyard operated a little further up Eight Mile River, at a spot called Reed’s Landing. The ship building yard slowed to an eventual halt sometime in the early to mid nineteen-hundreds.
Shad fishing has been an important part of Cove Landing’s history. The Connecticut River has always been plentiful with fish. In the 1800’s the fish caught in Hamburg Cove were delivered to Essex and Deep River for transport to New York City by steamboat. In the 1920’s shad fishing was a large part of the economy in Hamburg. During the 1940’s there were two dozen fishing boats that could be found fishing along the popular reaches of the river. By 1980, commercial shad fishing in Hamburg Cove ceased.
In the 1943 the yard was sold to DeSaulnier and Lagel families and Cove Landing began its transformation to a boat yard servicing pleasure yachts.