Thimble Island Cruise - Thimble Islands CT

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Thimble Island Cruise - Thimble Islands CT

Thimble Island CTThe Thimble Islands are a chain of 100-365 small islands that lie off the shore of the affluent community of Stony Creek in Branford Connecticut. They are made up of Stony Creek pink granite rocks, ledges and outcroppings ranging in size from small rocks to 17 acres full of local tradition and a wealth of history.

While they are said to be named for the thimbleberry which is in the family of the black raspberry and once grew wild on them, it is a plant that is rarely seen in the area now and is more notable in the northern New England area.  

Thimble Island CruiseThe Thimble Islands were first discovered by Adrian Block in 1614 who also discovered Block Island and were a favorite spot of the Mattabeseck Indians as a summer camping ground. During the 18th century in 1716 the colonists acquired land grants of the islands.  Because Branford was known as a farming community, there was little value found in the islands except as a source of seaweed which was used as a fertilizer and pasture for sheep during the summer on the larger islands.

In 1846 when William Bryan of Branford built a hotel on Pot Island and then renamed it for Captain Kidd the famous pirate, he created the legend that holds to today of possible hidden treasure.

Thimble Island CTThe islands and drew lobstermen and commercial fishermen to the area who found a very profitable harvest in the waters.   During the 19th century oyster farming thrived and produced a great source of wealth and by 1870 the area was booming with hotels, boarding houses and the building of summer cottages on the islands and on the shore.

Between 1890 to the start of World War I the Thimble Islands flourished.  A public dock was built for the accommodations of the islanders. Yachting grew tremendously and The Thimble Islands became the favorite spot to drop anchor or to enjoy a long cruise.  

Thimble IslandsMany changes have come to the islands since World War I. The hotels are gone and you'll see more water boats and water skiers on the waters now and fewer sailboats and rowing races.   Many of the islands have been bought and sold over the years but there are still many families who from generation to generation continue to come back to the islands year after year.

Thimble Island CT
The Thimble Islands especially during the summer months is a favorite location of residents and vacationers for swimming, kayaking and boating. One of the more popular attractions are the Thimble Island Cruises aboard The Sea Mist, Volsunga IV or The Islander for a tour of the 25 inhabited islands.  

Some of the more notable and largest Thimble Islands are:

Bear Island - Originally called "Goat Island" for its community of Swedish immigrant quarry workers for the goat herds they kept for milk.  Formerly home to a granite quarry which shipped the high quality pink granite for the construction of the Grant's Tomb, Lincoln Memorial and for the base of the Statue of Liberty.

Davis Island- Was the "Summer White House" of President William Howard Taft.

Governor Island - It has 14 residence with one of the oldest houses that was built in 1880 and still holds the original family name Simpson.  

Horse Island - Owned by Yale University and by Yale's Peabody Museum of Natural History which maintains an ecological laboratory.  It is also one of the largest of the Thimble Islands at 17 acres.

Money Island - Named after the famous pirate Captain Kidd, legend has it the he buried his treasure on this 12 mile island that has an entire village of 32 houses.

Rogers Island - Sold in 2003 for $22.3 million , this 7.75 acre island has a 27-room Tudor mansion, basketball courts, tennis courts and a caretaker's residence.

West Crib Island - In 1976 it was sold for $131,500 to John Svenningsen, a party goods magnage whose widow Christine has since bought more several other Thimble Islands.
Thimble Islands
Thimble Island CT
There have are many current and past well-known residents of  the islands including General Tom Thumb on Cut in Two Island East, President William Taft on Davis Island, Actor Frank Converse, showman Billy Rose, Garry Trudeau, the Doonesbury cartoonist and Jane Pauley, televison journalist.

Thimble Island Cruises

Thimble Islands - Stony Creek CT

Stony Creek CT

The Thimble Islands are included in the Stony Creek-Thimble Islands Hisotric District and listed in 1988 as a historic district on the National Register of Historic Places. 


Written and Posted by:

Donna Bigda - REALTOR®

RE/MAX Alliance - Branford, CT 06405

203-488-1641, x214

Search Branford, East Haven, Guilford, Madison, New Haven and all New Haven County Homes for Sale



Copyright © 2009 by Donna Bigda, All Rights Reserved ..,,*Thimble Island Cruise - Thimble Islands CT*

Comments (10)

Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Hi Donna, I recognize that place! You did a GREAT job on this! I love the history, it was such a fun tour I would even do it again in the fall, if he runs then.

Sep 01, 2009 11:43 PM
Bill Gassett
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Hopkinton, MA
Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate

Donna Thimble Island Cruise looks like a really cool place. I would love to have a home on the water myself!

Sep 01, 2009 11:56 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Donna, I'm so close and I've never heard of Thimble Islands--how did I miss this?  They sound just beautiful, next time I'm on my way up to the Cape I will stop and tour them!

Sep 02, 2009 12:05 AM
Jamie Dumaine-Russell
RE/MAX Alliance - Branford, CT

Andrea - I thought you might!  And I'm ready to do it again too.  A fall cruise would be just beautiful with all of the changing colors.

Bill - There's a few Thimble Islands for sale right now....Can I interest you in one?

Carole - They are spectacular.  It was such a wonderful cruise.  I've lived here my whole life and never went on a tour.


Sep 02, 2009 10:38 AM
Wanda Kubat-Nerdin - Wanda Can!
Red Rock Real Estate (435) 632-9374 - St. George, UT
St. George Utah Area Residential Sales Agent

Thanks for the tour Donna! This reminds me of the tv show called 'Fantasy Island'.

Sep 02, 2009 10:51 AM
Jamie Dumaine-Russell
RE/MAX Alliance - Branford, CT

Wanda - I remember that show too!  The plane, the plane!!  The Thimble Islands are like just like a fantasy.., so serene and majestic and with such gorgeous esates on them.

Sep 02, 2009 11:06 AM
George Souto
George Souto NMLS #65149 FHA, CHFA, VA Mortgages - Middletown, CT
Your Connecticut Mortgage Expert

Donna you did a lot of research on this, and a great job putting it all together.

By the way I talked to David today ......... thank you :) :)

Sep 02, 2009 02:12 PM
Jamie Dumaine-Russell
RE/MAX Alliance - Branford, CT

George - We must be in sync tonight.  I just came from commenting on your post. :)  I spoke to David tonight too and he told me he spoke to you.  Thank you!! :)  I know he's in good hands.

Sep 02, 2009 02:15 PM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Donna, this is an outstanding presentation of Thimble Islands near Branford Connecticut. The history and visuals are wonderful. We have some pirate treasure stories here as well! :)


Sep 02, 2009 02:25 PM
Jamie Dumaine-Russell
RE/MAX Alliance - Branford, CT

Sharon - I thoroughly enjoyed putting this together.  It was a great education on the history of the Thimble Islands.  I always thought the treasures of the pirates was down in Florida and was surprised to learn about the legend of Captain Kidd.


Sep 02, 2009 02:33 PM