Irish Canal Diggers Honored in New Trail Section of Farmington Canal

November 22, 2016 - A sign depicting Irish canal diggers was placed on the newest trail section of the Farmington Canal in Cheshire. It pays tribute to the many Irish laborers who took part in the construction of the canal itself in the early 1800's.  The new trail section from West Main St. to Jarvis St in Cheshire cost three million dollars. The Town of Cheshire payed 10% and the rest came from State and Federal coffers.

There are three sign locations.The first in this newly-finished section pays tribute to the 'Irish Canal Digger' at West Main Street (route 68) in Cheshire, located next to a Stop and Shop gas station and visible from the road. The Irish laborers were responsible for the most difficult work digging through the Cheshire swamps during the 1820s. An old Irish neighborhood near the sign was called 'Canal Street', but had its name changed to the current 'Willow Street'.

The other trail locations with signs involve the history of a trolley line crossing with remnants of a tower near Jarvis Street. The third is where a train crossed the trail years ago. The final Cheshire section of the trail (0.66 miles), connecting West Main St. and Cornwall Ave. will be the responsibility of the CT. Department of Transportation and is scheduled to start in 2017 with completion expected in 2018. Once all work is done, the trail, including Southington, will connect New Haven to Northampton MA.

The Irish Digger sign, including the signs at the other two locations were done by Creative Dimensions of Cheshire. In addition to the canal, a Cheshire Public Building Commission project completed the restoration of Lock #12 at the trail years ago. A plaque by Doolittle School students gives credit to Irish laborers at the canal. Photos of both the new Irish Digger sign and the restored Lock #12 with a sign crediting Irish laborors are shown on this page. Credit for this 'monument' goes to Bob Larkin of Cheshire.

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