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June 25, 2002

Naugatuck Valley and Twain

Mark Twain's HouseIt's nice not to have to rush to the airport for a change. I decided to cruise up the Naugatuck Valley to Torrington, go on to back roads and head for Hartford. Passed through Unionville, which looks like a nice little town, and Farmington again.

I'd never seen Mark Twain's house before, and I'm glad I took the time to stop. He had it built to impress his publishers and to create the glamour that made him the first modern celebrity. Twain lived next door to Harriet Beecher Stowe, which seems pretty amazing.

I've been through living history spots and historical tours by the boatload and I've decided that the single most important ingredient for their success is the guide. The man who led this tour clearly felt a connection with Twain. He even came close to choking up a bit when describing how the Twain's life unravelled slowly as he lost his wife and two daughters at an early age. That made the house come alive for me.

The museum has been working on restoring the house and recapturing the original furniture since 1929 and they've done a great job. Definitely worth the stop. Next time I'll check out the Stowe house and the Museum of Connecticut History nearby.