Mystic, Connecticut is a destination for tourists, history buffs, boat-folks, and coastal enthusiasts. There’s nowhere quite like it. You can fill your days with all that is Mystic: explore local tidal pools, wander historic streets, have a lobster roll, or go sailing past Mystic Seaport—with an ice cream break at the Drawbridge somewhere in the middle, of course.
A History of Mystic
Mystic is a community of nearly 10,000 residents located on Long Island Sound. The name “Mystic” was derived from the Native American word Missi-tuk, meaning “great tidal river.” This area was likely explored for the first time by Captain Adrian Block in the 1600s and settled by the English in 1654.
Mystic became a shipbuilding center for the whaling and fishing industries by the 18th century. One Mystic-built ship of note, the 47-foot sloop Hero, carried Stonington native Captain Nathaniel B. Palmer to his discovery of Antarctica in 1820. Ship building in Mystic continued through whaling and sealing days and into the California Gold Rush. At this time, the Mystic yards launched numerous ships, including the famed clipper ship David Crockett, whose average speed around Cape Horn to San Francisco was never equaled.
During the Civil War, shipbuilding efforts in Mystic peaked. The town produced the greatest tonnage of ships than any other port of her size in the U.S. However, after the war, ship building in Mystic dwindled and boatyards were replaced with woolen mills. Other factories local to Mystic produced velvet, soap, and razors.
In 1929, a group of individuals interested in preserving the maritime past of this region founded the Marine Historical Association. This non-profit historical association has grown into Mystic Seaport, the nation’s largest maritime museum. Thousands of visitors arrive at its gates each year, eager to learn more about the long history of America and the sea.