The Sleeping Giant Park Association (SGPA) was formed in 1924 to acquire land on and around the series of ridges in Mount Carmel, Connecticut known as the Sleeping Giant for use as a state park. SGPA is an all-volunteer organization whose mission is to protect and enlarge Sleeping Giant State Park. SGPA maintains over thirty miles of trails in the park, sponsors over 15 guided hikes each year, acquires land to add to the park, publishes the Giant News, a newsletter about the Giant, prints and distributes trail maps and maintains a self-guided nature trail with printed guide. Links to these and other activities as well as more information about the Giant and SGPA can be found in the list to the left below.
The trap rock ridges in Connecticut began life about 170 million years ago when volcanic eruptions formed the columnar patterns of basaltic rock. This hard rock which fractures at near 90 degree angles gives the rock the name trap meaning step or stair in Swedish. In Connecticut most of these ridges run north-south, but one unique ridge six miles north of New Haven runs east-west and has the distinctive profile of a recumbent human, especially when viewed from the south. This Sleeping Giant has held a mythical quality for all who see it.
The Native Americans in the area called the Giant Hobbomock, an evil spirit who became angry at the neglect of his people and stamped his foot near the current location of Middletown causing the Connecticut River to change course. Keitan, a good spirit cast a spell on Hobomock causing him to sleep forever so that he would do no further damage.
Although the ridges to the north of New Haven were easily visible from the harbor and Long Island Sound, it was almost a century after the founding of New Haven Colony before Europeans began to settle the area which would be named Mount Carmel. In 1735 Joel Munson began work on a dam on the Mill river just southwest of the Giant's head. He built a grist mill and saw mill on the site. The presence of the mill spurred settlement of the area as did a north-south road constructed through a difficult area known as the Steps, just west of the Mill River. In 1828 a canal from New Haven to Northampton, Massachusetts brought barge traffic to the area. In 1846, the canal company ceased operations, and a rail line was laid along the bed of the canal. The Mount Carmel Axleworks moved to the location of Joel Munson's dam.
The second half of the nineteenth century saw cottages built on many of the Giant's ridges. The summer homes were used by many local notables for either overnight stays or summer-long residency. Many ingenious devices were used to provide comforts at these remote locations. The highlight of this era was John H. Dickerman's opening of Blue Hills Park on July 4, 1888 when local residents were invited to travel a carriage road that had been constructed to a pavilion on the fourth ridge for a "basket picnic" which included ice cream.
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