Connecticut is a geologic hodgepodge. Only the northwestern corner, shown in blue and brown and yellow on the map above, is original to North America. The pink zone on the eastern border and southeastern coast was once part of Africa, while most of the state — the green and ocher areas — was the mud and sediment on the ocean floor between the two continents that was thrown to the surface as the tectonic plates pulled apart. The yellow zone down the middle was a failed rift in Pangaea.
To complicate things, the glaciers of the last ice age stretched from Canada all the way to Long Island Sound, completely blanketing Connecticut and terminating in the berm of rocks we now call Long Island. As they receded, the glaciers left the boulders and stones they had pushed before them, which makes Connecticut soil so notoriously difficult to farm.
The yellow division on the map, called the Newark terrane, is chock full of fossils and dinosaur tracks. At the Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, you can see hundreds of three-toed footprints left by Dilophosaurus, pictured here, or at least a theropod dinosaur very similar to her.
The tracks — which crisscross each other, running hither and yon — were discovered on the site in 1968 during construction of a building. Those plans were scrapped and a geodesic dome was built over the spot, where visitors today can admire the tracks from raised walkways. Amazingly, what’s visible is a fraction of the total as scientists left several thousand more tracks buried for preservation’s sake.
I’ve always associated dinosaurs and fossils with the southwest and the northern plains, so I was surprised when I discovered Dinosaur State Park less than an hour from our house. I haven’t been there in years but once upon a time it was a perfect day trip for our pair of dinosaur-obsessed boys, and our visits left, well, an impression on me.
This geologic history is a gold mine for a writer of Gothic fiction. After all, the overriding conceit of the genre is that the past haunts the present — and who’s to say if something from antediluvian epochs, thought long dead and gone, might not whisper in our ears tonight?
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tour through some of the settings and places that influenced my novel A Season of Whispers, which is now available in various ebook formats and as a trade paperback. Thanks for reading!