Proposed Naugatuck River Valley National Heritage Area

The proposed Heritage Area includes 14 towns within the Naugatuck River Valley. They are Shelton, Derby, Ansonia, Seymour, Oxford, Beacon Falls, Naugatuck, Waterbury, Watertown, Thomaston, Plymouth, Litchfield, Harwinton and Torrington. The lower Valley is more urbanized while the upper river valley is more rural, but the towns are linked by a history of shipping and trade, industry and invention, agriculture and the Naugatuck River.

The towns in the Heritage Area are united by a common theme of history, economics, culture or scenic beauty. In addition to federal funds of up to $1 million each year for 10 years, the designation can introduce heritage tourism to the Valley, an industry which the Healthy Valley Committee hopes will supplement the ailing manufacturing industry that powered economic growth in the Valley for many years.

What is a National Heritage Area?

The National Heritage Area program is a project of the United States National Park Service. Connecticut has two National Heritage Areas:  1) the Upper Housatonic River National Heritage Area and 2) the Quinebaug-Shetucket National Heritage Area. Heritage Areas are similar to national parks, but the land remains in private ownership.

National Heritage Areas (NHAs) are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historic resources combine to form a cohesive, nationally important landscape. Through their resources, NHAs tell nationally important stories that celebrate our nation's diverse heritage. NHAs are lived-in landscapes. Consequently, NHA entities collaborate with communities to determine how to make heritage relevant to local interests and needs.

NHAs are a grassroots, community-driven approach to heritage conservation and economic development. Through public-private partnerships, NHA entities support historic preservation, natural resource conservation, recreation, heritage tourism, and educational projects. Leveraging funds and long-term support for projects, NHA partnerships foster pride of place and an enduring stewardship ethic.

Naugatuck River Valley Heritage Area Committee

The Naugatuck River Valley National Heritage Area designation effort is coordinated by the Healthy Valley Committee of the Valley Health and Human Services in partnership with the Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce.  Members include representatives from the Healthy Valley Committee of the Valley Council for Health and Human Services, Valley United Way, Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, Shelton Economic Development Corporation, Valley Council of Governments, Derby, Shelton, Seymour and Beacon Falls Historical Societies and the Housatonic Valley Association.

Current Status of Naugatuck Valley Heritage Area

In June 2011, due to the urging of the Naugatuck River Valley Heritage Area Committee, United States Senators Joseph Lieberman and Richard Blumenthal and Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Christopher Murphy introduced the Naugatuck River Valley National Heritage Area Study Act.  The act marked the first step towards designation and would, if passed, direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study to determine if the Naugatuck River Valley is suitable for National Heritage Area designation. The National Park Service Subcommittee of The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on proposed National Heritage Areas in March of 2012, at which Dr. Stephanie Toothman of the National Park Service voiced support for the Naugatuck River Valley Area.

Get Involved!

To learn more about how you can get involved, contact Committee Co-Chair

Last revised 04/26/2012

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