The Burnside Letterbox  LbNA # 12318 (ARCHIVED)

Placed DateNov 21 2004
LocationEast Hartford, CT
Planted ByWild Rover    
Found By Rubaduc
Last Found Jul 18 2007
Hike Distance?

Hockanum River Linear Park – Chipper Drive Trail
Easy – 0.5 miles – stroller accessible.

*****On 02/02/2008 this box was confirmed MISSING.*****
I will do my best to re-plant it, if possible, ASAP, but until it is posted as re-planted it will not be in place. Sorry. --WILD ROVER

The land east of the Connecticut River was historically inhabited by the Podunk Indians, but in the mid 1600's settlers began to lay down roots in what would become East Hartford. An area along the Hockanum River known as Scotland (and later known as Burnside) became the site of many mills that used hydro-power. William Goodwin and John Crow set up the first saw and grist mill on the north side of the lower falls (later known as Pitkin Falls) in this area in 1639, followed by a saw mill established by John Bidwell and Joseph Bull in 1669. These mills and several others that were built in the Scotland area produced lumber, clothing, iron, gunpowder, snuff, anchors and eventually paper. Joseph Goodwin noted in 1886 that “several clothiers’ shops existed in town, the fulling of the goods being done at the Burnside mills.” Some of these mills still exist today in the area of Scotland Road and Burnside Avenue.

Scotland derived its name from the number of settlers of Scotch origin who settled in the area, in particular the Forbes family. “The name of Scotland was changed to Burnside in 1862, when it was made a post-station, there being already one Scotland in the State. The name was chosen because of its pertinence, signifying in Scotch a ‘burn’s side’ and was suggested by Miss Susan Goodwin.” {1} The “burn’s side” is a reference to the practice of charring the inside of oak casks and barrels used in the distilling of Scotch whiskey. “Charring caramelizes the sugars in the wood; it also helps to filter out many of the impurities in the new spirit,” and gives the liquor, which starts out clear, a wonderful dark colour due to the firing of the cask. {2}

While Scotch may no longer be distilled in the Burnside section of East Hartford, the area has more recently become known for the Olde Burnside Brewing Company, which is located on the site of the former Burnside Ice Company and uses the same clean, pure and flavorful water for creating its “Ten Penny” Scottish-style ale that the ice company had used to make ice for over a century. {3}

The Burnside letterbox pays tribute to the history of the Scotland/Burnside area of East Hartford. The box is located off Burnside Avenue, a major thoroughfare in town, and incorporates in its stamp the thistle [the national flower of Scotland] for the Scotch settlers who originally developed the area. The thistle is also part of the logo of the Olde Burnside Brewing Company, signifying the heritage of third-generation owner Bob McClellan. It is the 6th in a series of boxes planted in East Hartford by Wild Rover. Good luck, and thanks for looking!!!


From 84W take Exit 58; at end of exit take a right onto Roberts Street; at the light take a left onto Hillside Street; (pass the site for the Huskyville Letterbox on your right); take a right on Burnside Avenue; pass the new East Hartford Public Safety Complex on your left and take a right at the second light onto Scotland Road. At the first stop sign take a left on Chipper Drive. The trail head to the Chipper Drive Trail is on the left.

From 84E take Exit 58 and take a left onto Roberts Street, then follow the directions listed above.


Enter the trail and bear right at the fork (toward Labor Field). The trail alternates between gravel path and wooden foot-bridge, with the Hockanum River running alongside to the left. Eventually you come to a foot-bridge with a hand-rail on it that crosses a brook, and then beyond to an intersection with the Driver Road extension on the right (and a bench on the left), where you stay to the left and continue on the trail. The next geometric wooden foot-bridge meets up again with the Hockanum River. Soon on the left there is a culvert with a pipe feeding the river. Just beyond the pipe (30 steps, every foot, on the trail), at a point just before where the river turns sharply away from the trail, you will see a very large three-sister tree on the riverbank. Next to this three-sister tree is a twin with a hollow nest, inside of which is hidden the Burnside Letterbox. Please re-hide with care, as this trail is well traveled. Also, look about to see the handiwork of local beavers, who’s gnawing can be seen on several in-progress tree projects in the area. On this day a beaver was seen enjoying the river at the bend. The best route of return is the way you came. [Look down-river to see a smoke-stack on the horizon for a paper factory that sits on the original site of one of the Scotland mills heretofore mentioned.].


{1}. Historical text from: “The Memorial History of Hartford County Connecticut 1633-1884" by Joseph O. Goodwin (1886).

{2}. Information and text from: “Scotch Whiskey Review,” Edition 21, Spring 2004, by Willie Taylor, President of the National Federation of Coopers.

{3}. See: For a real treat, try their Ten Penny Ale!!! Also be sure to check out their link to the Pipes In The Valley festival website.

Thanks are also again extended to my sister MayEve, for helping me to plant this letterbox, and to RTRW for giving me the inspiration to complete this box in time for the Hartford County Gathering !!! I hope you find it, like it and enjoy it! ---WR