The Naugatuck River and Its Valley

“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure’— Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Beauty and The Beast of the Naugatuck River.
 
A 4 minute and 40 second fast paced trailer of video clips of the Naugatuck River. These are from the Naugatuck River Revival Group's video documentaries of the beautiful 40 mile long Naugatuck River. The largest in-state river flowing from Torrington to Derby CT. The largest tributary of the Housatonic River. It enters the Housatonic River at O'Sullivan's Island in Derby, Connecticut, USA. From there it as a short run to Long Island Sound. Bird of Prey rescue's, rehab and releases by A Place Called Hope, Ansonia Nature Center and the Naugatuck River Revival Group. 

Naugatuck River Greenway 2013. The Best is yet to come.

This 13-minute video chronicles the revival of the Naugatuck River in western Connecticut and the greenway now being developed from Torrington to Derby. Lisa Simmons of Fingerpost Productions worked with John Monroe of the Rivers & Trails Program (National Park Service) to interview key advocates for the river and to document an event on September 23, 2012 called "Explore the Naugatuck!"

Geographic Overview


The headwaters of the Naugatuck River, the ‘east branch’ and ‘west branch,’ originate in the towns of Winchester, Norfolk and Goshen in northwestern Connecticut before converging to form the main stem of the Naugatuck River. The main stem flows 39 miles south from Torrington through Litchfield, Harwinton, Thomaston, Watertown, Waterbury, Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, Seymour, and Ansonia before reaching its confluence with the Housatonic River in Derby, Connecticut.

The Naugatuck is the largest tributary of the Housatonic River, and it is the only major river in the state contained entirely within Connecticut’s borders. The ‘watershed’ that feeds water to the Naugatuck River drains 311 square miles, including portions of a total of 27 towns. By the time it reaches its confluence with the Housatonic, just 12 miles north of Long Island Sound, it is considered a ‘fourth order’ stream. This lowest section of the river is tidally influenced for approximately one mile upstream from the confluence.


Did You Know?

The Naugatuck’s name is thought to be derived from Naukotunk, the Algonquian word for “one tree.”  River names ending in ‘-tuck’, typically indicate that the river is tidally influenced.  It should come as no surprise then that a massive tree once stood along the river's bank in Seymour and the lowest mile of the Naugatuck in Derby is in fact tidal! 



A River Full of Power 

Tu map 001.png
Courtesy:Naugatuck-Pomperaug Chapter Trout Unlimited

As the river flows south from Torrington to Derby it drops approximately 540 feet in elevation, resulting in a relatively steep gradient of approximately 13 feet per mile. Consequently, the river is a predominantly rapidly flowing river for most of its length, characterized occasionally by rapids. The river’s size and steep gradient, made it ideal for hydropower development, causing a surge in industrial development in the 1700 and 1800’s. Unfortunately centuries of industrial abuse left the river essentially lifeless for most of the 20th century, ranking it among the most polluted rivers in the nation. Further injury was added during the mid-20th century when the river corridor was ravaged by a pair of hurricanes and then subsequently walled and dammed along much of its length. Fortunately, major changes in state and federal pollution control laws, upgrades to municipal waste water treatment plants, natural and intentional dam removal, and the transition away from heavy industry in the Valley have all contributed to vast improvements in the river’s water quality and wildlife population.


A Shifting Landscape

Today, land use in the watershed is quite varied. The headwaters of the river flow through a predominantly rural, undeveloped forested area. The East and West Branch of the river converge to form the main stem in Torrington, the first urbanized section of the river as you move downstream. From Torrington south to Thomaston the river flows through a landscape dotted with rural, agricultural and suburban sections. From Thomaston south, however, the river landscape becomes distinctly urbanized, most notably as it passes through the city of Waterbury. The exception lies in an approximately 2-mile region located between Naugatuck and Beacon Falls. Here, the river is walled by steep, forested hillsides, inhospitable to development. This region serves as a reminder of what the stunning river valley likely looked like before the Valley’s industrial revolution left its lasting footprints. 


The following is a list of tributaries of the Lower Naugatuck River
                                               
Stream Name              Destination                             Location of Mouth   
                              
Steele Brook .............Naugatuck River from west, ................Waterbury
Great Brook...............Naugatuck River from east, .................Waterbury
Mad Rive..................Naugatuck River from east,..................Waterbury
Lily Brook..................Mad River from southeast, ...................Woodtick
Old Tannery Brook......Mad River from north, .........................Woodtick
Beaverpond Brook......Mad River from southeast, .................Waterbury
Fulling Mill Brook........Naugatuck River from east, .................Union City
Cold Spring Brook.......Fulling Mill Brook from south, ..............Union City
Hop Brook..................Naugatuck River from west, ................Union City
Goat Brook ................Hop Brook from west, .......................Middlebury
Long Swamp Brook.....Hop Brook from north, .......................Middlebury
Shattuck Brook ..........Hop Brook from south, ......................Bradleyville
Wooster Brook............Hop Brook from north, .......................Bradleyville
Welton Brook..............Hop Brook from north, .......................Bradleyville
Pigeon Brook .............Hop Brook from west, .........................Naugatuck
Long Meadow Pd Brk..Naugatuck River from west,.................Naugatuck
Beacon Hill Brook ......Naugatuck River from east, .................Naugatuck
Straitsville Brook.........Beacon Hill from north, .......................Straitsville
Marks Brook ..............Beacon Hill from north, .......................Straitsville
Spruce Brook.............Naugatuck River from west, .............Beacon Falls
Hockanum Brook........Naugatuck River from east, .............Beacon Falls
Hemp Swamp Brook...Naugatuck River from west, ............Beacon Falls
Rimmon Brook............Naugatuck River from northeast, ...........Seymour
Mud Brook .................Naugatuck River from east, ..................Seymour
Wooster Brook ...........Mud Brook from south, .........................Seymour
Bladens River ............Naugatuck River from east, ...................Seymour
Pine Brook..................Bladens River from north, .....................Seymour
Hopp Brook................Bladens River from north, .....................Seymour
Nickel Mine Brook ......Naugatuck River from west, ..................Seymour
Globe Mill Brook.........Naugatuck River from west, ..................Seymour
Little River..................Naugatuck River from west, ..................Seymour
Kinneytown Brook ......Naugatuck River from west, ..................Seymour
Towantic Brook...........Little River from north, .............................Oxford
Jacks Brook...............Little River from north, .............................Oxford
Riggs Street Brook......Jacks Brook from north, ..........................Oxford
Beaver Brook..............Naugatuck River from east, ...................Ansonia
       



To learn more about the Naugatuck River contact one of the
river or watershed organizations in the Valley.

Sources of Information:
Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Water Management.  April 1992.  Naugatuck River Fact Sheet.
Bob Gregorski. October 2011. The Naugatuck River, Its Tributaries and Watershed. 

Last revised 3/15/2012

Special thanks to our sponsors:
Naugatuck Savings Bank, Connecticut Community Foundation
Union Savings Bank, Wesson Energy, Inc., The United Illumination Company, Friends of Naugatuck River
The Platt Brothers & Company, Thomaston Savings Bank, Valley Community Foundation