Recent demolition in the downtown area of Derby, Connecticut has revealed an opening to a series of tunnels built decades before the Civil War. The opening was in the foundation of a recently demolished factory, and can be found only a short walk from town’s scenic Greenway trail.
While those interested in the state’s industrial past may find this discovery very interesting, they shouldn’t expect to get too close as the area is roped off and spectators are being kept at a safe distance.
The tunnels were built in the early 1800’s as a part of a canal system that fed water from the Naugatuck River to power several downtown factories. This particular opening was in the foundation of the “The Big Copper Mill”, one of the first factories to be built in in the town.
To give a clear demonstration of where these tunnels are actually located, a map from 1848 was placed over a current satellite view of the downtown area. The map places the tunnels in the exact place where the opening was recently exposed. The reservoir that once fed water through the tunnels was located in the area where Home Depot’s parking lot currently is.
This etching from 1836, depicts the factory on the left-hand side shortly before it began operation.