Travel | Exploration | History

A Sunrise Walk on Historic Calf Pasture Beach

There’s a lot of history lurking in plain sight. Take Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk, Connecticut. on the surface it’s a pretty municipal beach on Long Island Sound. I suppose that might be enough. But there’s a significant link to the Revolutionary War on this beach. As an eager participant in maximizing the potential of any trip, I’d read about the beach while looking for a good place to watch a sunrise. As a history geek I leapt out of my chair when I learned more about the beach. A sunrise visit became a no-brainer.

So why the strange name? Calf Pasture Beach was exactly what the name infers. When the first European settlers arrived in 1651, their cattle grazed on the grass just off the beach. Names have a way of sticking, don’t they? But there’s even more history whispering on this beach. On July 10, 1779, British Lieutenant General William Tryon led 2,600 troops on the Revolutionary War raid of Norwalk. They camped right on the peninsula where the beach is located, and the next morning burned most of the town to the ground.

There’s no sign of British encampments or cows now, just a municipal beach with a fishing pier and bathhouse, a few baseball fields and a large parking lot. The property might have developed into any number of things, from industrial facilities to a housing development. Thankfully it was donated to the city exactly 100 years ago by the Marvin-Taylor family, who had owned the land for generations. That’s a gift that keeps on giving, and I hope Norwalk has something planned for 2022 to commemorate the family.

All this history lured me to that particular beach for a wonderful sunrise over Long Island Sound. Arriving during magic hour, the sky was lit up in pink, and Sprite Island offered a beautiful contrast with its bare trees. A short walk down the beach brings you to a fishing pier, which offers a different perspective on the sunrise, and a different perspective on the beach itself. This small peninsula feels like it would be a million miles away from the congested I-95 corridor, yet here it is just a few minutes away. It’s funny what you find when you pause to look around a bit. Not every early morning micro-adventure pays off, but this one surely did.

Sprite Island during the magic hour before sunrise
Calf Pasture Beach, Norwalk, CT
Sunrise over Long Island Sound from the Captain William Clark Fishing Pier

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