Doesn’t the name sound cool? Are you thinking “I wonder if he’s talking about gunpowder?” If you are, you came to the right place. Unfortunately, you’re about 100 years too late.
Back in the 19th century, Col. Augustus Hazard owned a gunpowder company in the area of Enfield, Connecticut known as Hazardville. It the name sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been here before. If you don’t remember or if you weren’t here, here are a couple shameless links to prior posts – The Hazardville Institute and a Reason to Hope. We’ve also been up river from here, in a series of posts in and around the Somersville section of Somers, Connecticut – I’ll spare you those links. The Somersville dam on the Scantic River, provided water power to a large textile mill. Downstream about a mile, a canal system delivered water power to the network of 125 buildings that comprised the Hazard Powder Co.
Operating out of many small buildings was a hallmark of the gunpowder industry. The industry was characterized by explosions, and one small building blowing up, as bad as it was, was better than a section of a large building blowing up (since that would likely cause the entire building to explode)..
According to an article in the Hartford Courant:
“The company supplied gunpowder to Russia and Britain during the Crimean War and for both the Confederate and Union sides in of the Civil War. It ultimately provided the Union Army with half its gunpowder. The company also provided blasting powder for the construction of roads and railroads.”
The company suffered from numerous explosions during its operation. One in 1866 that was written up in the Courant was so bad that the article described men’s bodies as having been “blown to atoms.” A final explosion in 1913 was so large that it shook the entire town. The company closed shortly thereafter.
Most of the buildings are gone today. The area has been turned into a park and the river has returned to a series of rapids. On Water St., a short side street off of Hazard Avenue, there is a small enclave of old brick buildings. Whether or not these buildings were part of the Hazard Powder Co. is unclear, but they have been around for a long time, and time hasn’t been kind to all of them. Many of the larger buildings are part of STR, Inc’s world headquarters and research and development laboratory. STR is a maker of solar energy equipment. One smaller building is the home of Powder Hollow Brewery, a craft beer brewery suppling quality brews to western Massachusetts and north central Connecticut.
When he’s not making beer and gunpowder, our host, Col. Norm Frampton is connoisseur of doors. Each week, on Thursday, he puts out a call to door aficionados across the world to bring their doors and their stories to his gallery. We check in with the little blue frog, we add our doors to the collection and we admire each other’s doors.
I hope you enjoy the doors collected from the brewery and STR, Inc. They may not be bright and shiny, but they’re quintessential New England.