CT: Middlesex County-East Haddam-Johnsonville Village

A Ghost Town, A Ghost, A Song of the Year, and A Documentary

Please note: I stumbled upon this village while driving by and seeing the interesting dual -tunnel covered bridge and made a turn out of curiosity. I saw some workers who were part of the organization which since purchased the area who gave me permission to walk the grounds but not enter any buildings. Should you decide to visit the ghost town please do be respectful of the new owners and recognize the town is in current disrepair necessitating some caution. Please stay on the main roads should you have interest in a visit.

A Ghost Town

This once thriving mill town was the center of twine production in Connecticut used primarily for fishnets, and was sold on both coasts and the Great Lakes.

In 1832, the Neptune Mill was constructed and over the years expanded until it reached three stories tall, architecturally resembling a church with its steeple and bell that would call workers into the factory each morning.

In 1862, Emory Johnson built the Triton Mill and tenements and worker housing soon cropped up and Johnsonville was born. The Triton Mill was destroyed in a fire.

A Ghost or Two

The Emory Johnson homestead still stands and they say is haunted by Johnson himself. Fun fact I learned while watching the documentary when they showed the bathroom is that while it looks like an outhouse (prior to plumbing) it has two holes instead of one. This was to accommodate different size needs of the household.

In 1965, Raymond Schmitt, purchased the area to make it a tourist attraction and was seeking to recreate an 18th century Victorian Village. He even brought in other vintage buildings from Connecticut and had them moved to Johnsonville including a stable, chapel, general store and a school house.

Also written is that the the ghost of Schmitt roams the grounds. Perhaps Johnson and Schmitt both were so fond of the place they hang around together.

A Song

In 1993, Billy Joel filmed part of his music video, “River of Dreams” at the village and various Connecticut locations along the Connecticut River. An article about the album describes Billy Joel “raises the stakes with River of Dreams, diving further into the philosophical abyss of middle age with the fury of a dreamer searching for an answer before time fades away.” This album hit #1 on the Billboard 200 chart including Song of the Year. Interestingly, the beautiful album cover was painted by Christie Brinkley.

A Documentary

The village was featured in Season 1, episode 10, Connecticut Ghost Town, of the National Geographic TV series “Abandoned” which I was able to view on Amazon prime. It spoke and focused on some of the items I took photos of and included here. The series are guys who purchase antiques and fix them up to resell. It was from this episode I was able to view the inside of some of the buildings. This team wound up purchasing the vintage schoolhouse itself with its antique bell and antique desks with carvings from the 1800s!

On July 7, 2017, a Philippine-based independent Christian organization bought the village and appears to be restoring it for use based on my visit.

Couple this as I did with a visit to Devil’s Hopyard for an awesome creepy day!


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Published by Belinda Sheets

This is a non-promotional blog. I am not a photographer nor am I selling anything through this blog. Professionally I am a Business Transformation Specialist focused on gaining efficiencies and reducing costs for major corporations. Recent life experiences made me better appreciate the present and all that can be seen by increasing my focus and attention on my surroundings. I always enjoyed going out and exercising and I would look but I did not see as my attention was on resolving some problem. Captured through pictures and sharing insights about various locations, I hope others can enjoy my research and insights and allow themselves to pause a few moments and truly appreciate and learn new things. When you follow me that is my only gift. To know I have touched you enough to want to follow the blog. Respectfully (Stay Safe), Belinda Sheets Business Transformation professional with interests in photography, hiking, bicycling and kayaking and learning how to be present.

2 thoughts on “CT: Middlesex County-East Haddam-Johnsonville Village

  1. I used to live in East Haddam, and in 1994/5 actually wrote articles for a small paper called The Observer, which was based in Johnsonville. I believe the paper was started by the owner of Johnsonville, who was not happy about local politics so started his own vehicle of dissent, so to speak – kind of old school but it was before the internet and social media. The offices were in the main building above the dam and I used to go there regularly. Beautiful buildings and I always was amazed that all that was just sitting there and not being used in any way. Hopefully it gets restored before it all rots away.

    Liked by 1 person

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