Just about a half-hour’s sail from Mystic is Fishers Island, a place with great renown but one that neither of us had ever been to before. Our son Todd had suggested we go there, and we had also heard from others that it was a simple but lovely place. The MapTech book talked about a museum where you had to make an appointment and about an ice cream store. That was about it, but since it was so close, and Norma really wanted a sample of its white sand for her collection, we spent about three nights and two days here overall.
Fishers Island is lovely, quiet, simple in its offerings but a great refuge from the Race and Long Island Sound and the busy-ness of New London and Groton on the bustling Thames River. There are 3 public mooring balls (orange in color) in the West Harbor on Fishers Island Sound, and as long as a sailor or boater pays close attention to their charts, getting there is a breeze.
What interested us the most was the ability to walk around this lovely island and appreciate the homes, the fauna and flora and the quiet! Our favorite thing, however, was going to the Henry L. Ferguson Museum, whose director, Pierce Rafferty, spent a great deal of time with us, explained why the island belonged to New York rather than to its closest neighbor, Connecticut, and enlightened us about the past and current archeological digs going on.
The museum is a trove of research and displays of Native American artifacts circa 9,000 B.C. to 1600 A.D. as well as samples of the fauna and flora of the island as well as its glacial history. The museum was named posthumously after Henry Ferguson who began his archaeological collection of Indian stone work, tools, shells and other artifacts and published his exploration in 1935. He was also an avid ornithologist and the museum houses his collection of bird specimens.
Prior to going by appointment to the museum at 2:00 p.m., we took nearby nature walks to find lovely green algae-covered ponds, a wild ring-necked pheasant, and large gangly oaks. Anyway, we had a great time here and learned so much about the pre-history of the region. The director gave us a pamphlet entitled Native American on Fishers Island and afterward Allen and I discussed what we had learned overall.
Norma: That Long Island Sound was originally called Lake Connecticut and that, like the Chesapeake, is an estuary.
Allen: The History of Fishers Island is amazing, from the 11,000 years of occupation by natives, to the colonization by the Winthrop Family, The Fox family's control and making the island into a resort destination from the 1860's through the great depression and then the selling of the resorts to private owners under the control of the Fergusons, who owned all but 101 small parcels of the Island. The island is now extremely private and even the views have been privatized with big hedges around the huge homes and mansions. Fishers island residents work very hard to keep developers and the general public out! We were told that a police officer at the ferry dock is noting the license of every car that comes off of it and every car that goes back on.