Visiting Mystic, Connecticut

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So Good to See You in Mystic

Mystic Chamber of Commerce Tourism Information & Welcome Center

Nov-Apr: Mon-Fri, 10 am - 4 pm

Make the Mystic Chamber Tourism Information & Welcome Center your first stop when visiting Mystic, Connecticut. We'll share all the wonderful things that Mystic has to offer, like world-class dining experiences, art and historical museums and a charming, waterfront downtown area. What does a visit to Mystic, Connecticut look like? It's historic, epicurian, walkable, picturesque, award-winning. In Mystic, Connecticut, you don't have to imagine the history that comes from this 19th century ship-building community.

Click here for a quick-reference guide for educational and tour group planners.

If Mystic is home base and you're heading to Westerly, Newport and Rhode Island beaches, we have you covered.

About Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic is a village in Groton and Stonington, Connecticut. It is not a municipality, and therefore, has no independent government. Historically, Mystic was a significant Connecticut seaport with more than 600 ships built over 135 years, starting in 1784.

Mystic has preserved her rich history meticulously; view the Charles W. Morgan (left) moored in Mystic Seaport, boats sitting in calm, blue waters as they await the opening of the Bascule Drawbridge, tall ships tied to the wharf, the hustle and bustle of Downtown Mystic, and Captain’s mansions lining the winding roads all contribute to making Mystic so special for visitors and residents alike.

History of Mystic, Connecticut & Mystic Seaport

Source: Wikipedia;, Connecticut (05.05.20; 14:00 EST)

Historically, Mystic was a significant Connecticut seaport with more than 600 ships built over 135 years starting in 1784. The story of Mystic's nautical connection is told at Mystic Seaport, among the nation's largest maritime museums which has preserved a number of sailing ships, most notably the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan. The village is located on the Mystic River, which flows into Fishers Island Sound and by extension Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The Mystic River Bascule Bridge crosses the river in the center of the village. The name "Mystic" is derived from the Pequot term "missi-tuk" describing a large river whose waters are driven into waves by tides or wind, according to a history cited by The Mystic River Historical Society. The population was 4,205 at the 2010 census.

Mystic Seaport

Mystic Seaport Museum or Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea in Mystic, Connecticut is the largest maritime museum in the United States.[1] It is notable for its collection of sailing ships and boats and for the re-creation of the crafts and fabric of an entire 19th-century seafaring village. It consists of more than 60 historic buildings, most of them rare commercial structures moved to the 19-acre (0.077 km2) site and meticulously restored The museum was established in 1929 as the "Marine Historical Association". Its fame came with the acquisition of the Charles W. Morgan in 1941, the only surviving wooden sailing whaler. The Seaport was one of the first living history museums in the United States, with a collection of buildings and craftsmen to show how people lived; it now receives about 250,000 visitors each year.

The Seaport supports research via an extensive library[3] and runs the Frank C. Munson Institute of American Maritime Studies, a summer graduate-level academic program established in 1955 by maritime historian Professor Robert G. Albion of Harvard University. The museum also hosts Williams–Mystic in conjunction with Williams College, an undergraduate program in maritime studies.[5] Outreach includes sailing and history classes for area children.

Mystic River (1879)

Before the 17th century, the Pequot people lived in this portion of southeastern Connecticut. They were in control of a considerable amount of territory, extending toward the Pawcatuck River to the east and the Connecticut River to the west.

To the northwest, the Five Nations of the Iroquois dominated the land linked by the Great Lakes and the Hudson River, allowing trading to occur between the Iroquois and the Dutch. The Pequots were settled just distant enough to be secure from any danger that the Iroquois posed. The Pequot War profoundly affected the Mystic area between 1636 and 1638. In May 1637, captains John Underhill and John Mason led a mission through Narragansett land, along with their allies the Narragansetts and Mohegans, and struck the Pequot Indian settlement in Mystic in the event which came to be known as the Mystic massacre. On September 21, 1638, the colonists signed the Treaty of Hartford, officially ending the Pequot War.

Mystic River Bridge, Connecticut (Source: Connecticut History;

On July 19, 1922, the Mystic River Bridge spanning the Mystic River in Groton opened to the public. The bridge replaced the 1904 bridge and was fabricated by the American Bridge Company. It is a significant example of a Brown Balance Beam Bascule Bridge patented by Thomas E. Brown. The Brown bascule (or drawbridge) was an improved concept in movable bridge technology and the Mystic design provided for two, 230-ton concrete counterweights attached to overhead trusses or balance beams that allowed the 85-foot span to be raised and lowered. The bascule bridge replaced the swing bridge and provided for a single wide channel rather than two narrower channels with the ability to open the bridge only partially for smaller watercraft.

English settlement

As a result of the Pequot War, Pequot control of the Mystic area ended and English settlements increased in the area. By the 1640s, Connecticut Colony began to grant land to the Pequot War veterans. John Winthrop the Younger, the son of the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was among those to receive property, much of which was in southeastern Connecticut. Other early settlers in the Mystic area included Robert Burrows and George Denison, who held land in the Mystic River Valley.

Settlement grew slowly. The Connecticut government and Massachusetts Bay government began to quarrel over boundaries, thus causing some conflicting claims concerning governmental authority between the Mystic River and the Pawcatuck River. In the 1640s and 1650s, "Connecticut" referred to settlements located along the Connecticut River, as well as its claims in other parts of the region. Massachusetts Bay, however, claimed to have authority over Stonington and even into Rhode Island.

Connecticut did not have a royal charter that separated it from the Massachusetts Bay Colony; the Connecticut General Court was formed by leaders of the settlements. The General Court claimed rule of the area by right of conquest, but the Massachusetts Bay Colony saw matters differently. The Bay Colony had contributed to the war by sending a militia under captains John Underhill and Thomas Stoughton, which they argued gave territorial rights and authority to the Massachusetts Bay Colony rather than the Connecticut Court. More...

18th Century

Main Street (circa 1901)

By the first decade of the 18th century, three villages had begun to develop along the Mystic River. The largest village was called Mystic (now Old Mystic), also known as the Head of the River because it lay where several creeks united into the Mystic River estuary. Two villages lay farther down the river. One was called Stonington and was considered to be Lower Mystic, consisting of twelve houses by the early 19th century. These twelve houses lay along Willow Street, which ended at the ferry landing. On the opposite bank of the river in the town of Groton stood the village that became known as Portersville.

Through the 18th century, Mystic's economy was composed of manufacturing, road building, and maritime trades. Agriculture was the main component of their economy, since most of the citizens were farmers. In turn, the colonists provided their mother country with raw material resources that led to the emergence of a colonial manufacturing system. Land remained an essential source of wealth, though some land was very rocky and prevented early farmers from producing crops. This, however, did not necessarily lead to poverty. They grew corn, wheat, peas, potatoes, and a variety of fruits. They raised cattle, chicken, pigs, and sheep. They were hunters and fishermen and were generally able to sustain themselves. With an average household of about nine children, labor was easily provided in the fields.

National Register of Historic Places

Mystic has three historic districts: the Mystic Bridge Historic District around U.S. Route 1 and Route 27, Rossie Velvet Mill Historic District between Pleasant Street and Bruggerman Place, and the Mystic River Historic District around U.S. Route 1 and Route 215. Other historic sites in Mystic are:


According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP has a total area of 3.8 square miles (9.8 km2), of which 3.3 square miles (8.5 km2) is land and 0.4 square miles (1.0 km2), or 11.61%, is water. The village is on the east and west bank of the estuary of the Mystic River. Mason's Island (Pequot language: Chippachaug) fills the south end of the estuary. Most of the bedrock of Mystic is "gneissic, crystalline terrane extending from eastern Massachusetts through western Rhode Island and across southeastern Connecticut north of Long Island Sound," according to geologist Richard Goldsmith.


Historical population Census Pop. %±

1990: 2,618, —

2000: 4,001, 52.8%

2010: 4,205, 5.1%

As of the census of 2000, there were 4,001 people, 1,797 households, and 995 families residing in the CDP. The population density was 1,192.7 people per square mile (461.1/km2). There were 1,988 housing units at an average density of 592.6 per square mile (229.1/km2). The racial makeup of the CDP was 95.8% White, 0.8% African American, 0.4% American Indian, 1.3% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander (i.e. 1 person), 0.3% from other races, and 1.30% from two or more races. More...