Visitors can walk inside a covered bridge spanning the Quinebaug River, which runs through the Village, and learn about the importance of this river to the region. Quinebaug is a Native American term meaning "long, slow-moving river." This bridge dates to the 1930s, and was used as the main entrance to the Village in the 1950s.
The exact origin of the Quinebaug River is difficult to pinpoint, but it appears to start at Mashapaug Pond in Connecticut. From there it flows northward to Sturbridge and then turns southward, combining with the Shetucket River in Connecticut to form the Thames River. The water eventually reaches the seacoast town of New London, where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Long Island Sound.
Scenic river landscapes became bustling manufacturing centers in the 1800s, and during the Industrial Revolution, this gently flowing stream powered thousands of machines in scores of factories in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Early New Englanders dammed and channeled their river resources to harness power for mills and factories.
Before heavy construction equipment and power tools, the work of changing the landscape to control a river was done by human and animal muscle power. With hard work and hand tools laborers built dams, dikes and foundations. They dug canals. They moved tons of earth and stones. Most dams were built in stages, first from one side of the river, then the other.