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Follow the Falls

A Collaborative Project. Follow the Falls represents a joint effort by Essex Historical Society (EHS) and the Essex Land Trust (ELT) to tell the remarkable story of the Falls River which binds together the three historic villages of Ivoryton, Centerbrook and Essex to form what we know today as the Town of Essex. Besides its historic significance, the Falls River is home to a rich natural history, kept alive by the four Essex Land Trust preserves located along its winding shores.

Follow the Falls: Ivoryton Available Now! EHS and ELT proudly announce the publication of the third and final installment of the Follow the Falls Project, covering the industrial story of Ivoryton. Digital copies are available for download. To purchase a copy, please visit Pratt House during its open season (June – September) or contact EHS offices by emailing director Melissa at

Falls River in Centerbrook, published in 2020. Connecticut boasts the reputation as a place of innovation, invention and “Yankee Ingenuity.”  Here in Essex, the village of Centerbrook saw the rise and fall of many such innovative industries located on the Falls River, from the late 17th through the 20th centuries.  You will be amazed to learn the rich, detailed stories squeezed into a few square miles.

Click here to explore our in-depth, online, illustrated digital magazine Centerbook: Crossroad – Community – Change, designed by Overabove. 

Click here to view our three-minute virtual tour of what Centerbrook looked like in 1910, developed by Centerbrook Architects.

Click here to explore our 2018 e-magazine on the history and natural beauty of Falls River Cove, Essex. 

Coming in 2023, the final Follow the Falls installment will explore the village of Ivoryton.

Falls River Cove. In 2018 Follow the Falls explores the area’s natural history, Native American and European settlements, the harnessing of the river’s water power and the industrial development of Falls River Cove. The story is told through an online magazine, a printed booklet, and special event programs.

Message From the Project Team. Essex Historical Society and the Essex Land Trust share a vision to educate the community, not only on our town’s history but also on the importance of preserving and caring for the town’s natural environment. In promoting the Follow the Falls project, both organizations hope that the community will continue to value our rich history and the open spaces that are an integral part of our daily lives.

Learning more.  For an in-depth look at selected topics from the Follow the Falls project, EHS posts a few research papers from its collections.

Special thanks to our generous sponsors in support of Follow the Falls:

The Kitchings Foundation at the Community Foundation of Middlesex County
Jacqueline Hubbard and Norm Needleman
Sherry and Herb Clark


Centerbrook Architects

Essex Savings Bank

Guilford Savings Bank

Community Foundation of Middlesex County

Centerbrook Meeting House, built in 1790

Connecticut Valley Manufacturing produced drill bits and augers from 1874 through the mid 20th century.

The Great Falls behind Centerbook Architects once powered a grist mill, sawmill and iron forge.

In 1871, the Connecticut Valley Railroad began service in Centerbrook.