Open: Sunrise-Sunset, Year Round
Trail Map: (PDF)
Osbornedale State Park is located in the Naugatuck Valley Hills just east of the Housatonic River in Derby and Ansonia. The land was once the lushly forested hunting grounds of the Paugussett Indians. Fur traders, such as John Wakeman in 1642, were the first people of European descent to move into the Indians’ territory. Permanent settlers began arriving in the late 1650’s. The land was gradually purchased from the Paugussetts for items such as clothing or cooking utensils. Because the Europeans concept of property rights was not embodied in the Indian culture, the Indians often sold the same parcel of land several times.
The new settlers cleared the land for farming and took advantage of their location on the Housatonic and Naugatuck Rivers by developing the area into a trading port, which at one time rivalled New Haven harbor. The name of the settlement, originally called “Paugussett” was changed to “Derby” in 1675 after Derbyshire, England, the former home of many colonists.
Though never commercially successful, lands now within the park off Silver Hill Road were mined for silver for a short period after the Revolutionary War. In addition, a spring water bottling business was part of the present park land. In 1956, Osbornedale State Park was willed to the people of Connecticut by Frances Osborne Kellogg, granddaughter of John W. Osborne, one of the Naugatuck Valley’s early industrial entrepreneurs.
The prominent Osborne family owned numerous metal working and fabric product factories in the area. At the young age of 24, Frances Osborne, later Mrs. Waldo Kellogg, took over the family business when her father died in 1907. Miss Osborne’s decision to take over the family business instead of selling it was contrary to the advice of the executers of her father’s estate, and a brave undertaking for a woman in the early part of the century. Despite the prejudices against woman in business at that time, Mrs. Frances Osborne Kellogg was very successful in her many businesses and investments. By adhering to the belief that one should always buy land but never sell it, Mrs. Kellogg gradually acquired the numerous separate farms which now comprise the 350 acre Osbornedale State Park, an unusually large property in the Derby-Ansonia area.
Two very successful farms known as the Osbornedale Farms, were owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Kellogg. One farm was a breeding farm for the prize winning Osbornedale Holstien cows. The other farm, acquired from the Basset family, was an excellent milk-producing dairy farm of Jersey cows. Both farms claimed champions in their fields.
Mrs. Kellogg’s home is now a museum and is located near Osbornedale State Park. For more information click here.