25-45 Cat Hollow Rd, Dayville, CT
The Cat Hollow Town Park was opened in 2003. The park contains a 0.5-mile trail along Cat Hollow Road that is suitable for bicycles and strollers. The road is closed off to traffic. The trail parallels the Whetstone Brook and a beautiful mill pond and waterfalls. The site of the original mill is about halfway down the trail.
Sayles and Sabin Mill (Cat Hollow Mill)
The land records indicate that both sawmill and grist mill existed in the vicinity of the Cat Hollow Mill by the end of the 1700's. In 1798 Brazilla Fisher deeded his son Dexter Fisher 16 acres, a dwelling, a sawmill and grist mill for seven years of work. The site changed ownership during the early 1800's and Thomas Durfee and his son-in-law Jude May were operating the site by about 1828. Lester’s 1833 map shows only a sawmill.
By about 1850 this site had been converted to use for textiles, and Sabin and Harris Sayles of Pascoag, Rhode Island were operating a woolen mill here. That early mill burned in 1858. They also owned the Dayville site and continued operations there for many years. About 1875 a mill was erected on this site and was utilized in conjunction with the Dayville mill. According to Richard Adams in Mills along the Whetstone Brook a fire destroyed a portion of the mill prior to 1924. After that, the site was utilized to manufacture nails and later was used as a storage facility for the Cliquot Club Soda Company. In recent years, it was the residence of Robert Lucas. The mill was destroyed by fire December 4, 2001.
The history of Cat Hollow and the adjacent mills along the Whetstone Brook
The Whetstone Brook has been a source of waterpower since the early days of settlements in Killingly. The proprietors of Chestnut Hill erected a sawmill at the eastern end of the brook by 1715. Nicholas Cady had apparently constructed both sawmills and grist mills on the western portion of the brook by late 1716. The exact location of these mill sites is unknown and it may have been closer to Elmville, which is located just north of the junction of the Whetstone Brook and the Five Mile River.
The availability of this wonderful source of waterpower from the rapidly descending brook meant that numerous small cotton and woolen mills were erected along its banks at the beginning of the industrial age in the early 1800's. The Whetstone Brook drops about 70' in the first 200 yards. These mills helped to make Killingly the greatest cotton manufacturing town in Connecticut in 1836.
Killingly Worsted Mill
The second mill in the Cat Hollow trail area was the old Killingly Worsted Mill. The wooden building was built for Phebe Sayles and Sarah Potter in the late 1860's and was called the Sayles and Potter Woolen Mill. The mill was a three-story wooden building measuring 40' x 150' long. Before the present dam was built, water had to be drawn from upstream by means of a long canal. The present dam was probably built in the 1870's to give the mill larger quantities of water. By 1889, Timothy E. Hopkins obtained the mill and used it to produce fancy cashmere. By 1915, William Litch was operating this site as the Killingly Worsted Company. The Hale Manufacturing Company occupied the site from the 1950's to the 1970's. A number of fires gutted the mill building in 1978 and two years later it was torn down. The waterfall still remains as a reminder of the industrial activity of this site.
Elmville Mill (Danielson Manufacturing Company, Colt Plastic)
The junction of route 12 and the Whetstone Brook was the site of the Dexter Mill built in the early 1800's. It was powered by a water wheel and served as a woolen mill until a fire in 1877. The current three-story brick mill building was built in its place covering 50' x 175' long. After changing hands many times, the building became the Danielson Manufacturing Company in 1935 and was converted to the production of leather goods. Since the late 1960's, the mill building has been used primarily for storage and remains largely unchanged from the day it was built.