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Old Lyme Conservation Trust
P.O. Box 163
Old Lyme, CT 06371

The Construction of Fish Ladders in Old Lyme

There are two fish ladders on land owned by the Old Lyme Conservation Trust: On the Lower Mill Pond accessible from the Woodward Griswold property and the Upper Mill Pond (not accessible to the public).

Lower Mill Pond Fish Ladder

Following many years of preparation, the installation of a custom made fish "ladder" was started on the Lower Mill Pond dam on the property of Mary and John Steube. The donated land will provide a significant step in the restoration efforts of the Connecticut River, its estuaries, the Lieutenant and Black Hall and Eight Mile rivers which serve as migratory habitat along the Eastern Flyway of the US mainland's east coast. 

Resident species of geese, swan, eagle and osprey have weathered the influx of various incursions such as DDT, phosphates and sewage from upstream and local sources. Their survival stems from the procreation of several food chains such as legumes natural to the ecosystem and fish food such as alewife grown in the marsh shallows and now small upland ponds. The restoration of the Atlantic salmon has been long sought after. The depletion or inaccessibility of  its head water breeding grounds has lead to its demise. Restoring a species such as the salmon has proved to have sporadic success and owes the retaken ground to technology and perseverance of such eminent biologists as Steve Gephard of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. In light of the fish way on the upper Connecticut River, the Trust will look forward to its smaller scale "ladder" being in place. The photograph you see below was taken prior (3/2/98) to completion of the landscaping.

The Mary Steube Fish Way, built in 1998

These views are of the lower millpond dam after the flood June 6, 1982 taken from the west side of the dam by Scott Tripp:


Upper Mill Pond on the Mill Brook

The Upper Mill Pond has been the site of a dam since before 1750. The property can be traced back to around 1650. It became part of the First Ecclesiastical Society (1665-1850), the first community to inhabit the Old Lyme settlement after it moved here from Old Saybrook. The dam gave the area its first economy and was the site of two mills, a grist mill and a hydraulic hammer that forged iron found close by in the nearby meadow. Extensive exploration of the archeological site, prior to establishing the site of the fish ladder, provided insight into the footprint of the former mills. 

The restoration of the catadromous fish breading grounds in the Mill Brook reestablishes breading territory for fish species not seen since the days of the resident Native Americans.


Board Member, Evan Griswold cuts
the brush while Dick Conniff drags it away

       L-OLHS Senior "Green Crewman", Kara Donnelly patiently unwinds a vine.
                  Ben Conniff wields his swoe

Dane Pfeiffer & John Drakos
clear along the Mill Brook
            The lower entrance pool arrives
     That's Steve Gephard in the yellow hard hat!

The Alaska Steep Pass units going into place.

The fish ladder in place at 4:15 PM, on March 16, 2002.


Why a fish ladder?

Go to the Woodward Griswold property page to find out more.

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