Who We Are
SGPA’s Land Acknowledgement
SGPA was founded in 1924 through a partnership of neighbors and local residents with the express purpose of turning the land known as the Sleeping Giant into a public, then state park. We salute our founders. We also acknowledge that the Giant is sacred space, connected to the beliefs and practices of the Quinnipiac people, who were the original inhabitants of an area that stretched from Long Island Sound to just north of these ridges.
SGPA’s Formation & History
The story of the Sleeping Giant Park Association (SGPA) begins in 1912 when Judge Willis Cook who owned the first ridge or the Giant’s Head decided to lease the Head to the Mount Carmel Traprock Company. Perhaps to ease the objections of his neighbors, Judge Cook included a clause in the lease that no quarrying should be visible from Mount Carmel Avenue. The continuous blasting and the increasing size of the cut into the Giant’s head raised a public furor, well reported by the local newspapers.
The stories roused Yale Forestry School Professor James W. Toumey, a hearty advocate of public parks. Toumey decided the Sleeping Giant should be made into a public park and got some of the Giant’s owners together to do just that.
Second SGPA President
World War I intervened and then Judge Cook died. With no complaint from his widow, the quarrying continued to cut away the Giant’s scalp. In 1924, Toumey officially organized the Sleeping Giant Park Association which immediately began to raise money and take gifts of land. By 1930, Arnold Dana had become President of the Association. Since he survived a childhood fall from the Giant’s chin, he had a special affinity for the Giant, believing the Giant had spared his life. At this time, the Association had acquired 845 acres and had raised enough money to buy the head from Mrs. Cook.
The quarry operation, then run by Blakeslee Associates still held the lease however and they continued to remove rock. Arnold Dana took the company to court on the basis of the clause that the cut should not show to the south. The company argued that the clause meant the the whole quarry face should not be visible from the south. Superior Court Judge Carl Foster found for the Sleeping Giant Park Association.
Although quarrying at the existing cut had to stop, the company still held the lease and refused Dana’s offer of $25,000 to buy it out. The company wanted $655,000 to terminate the lease.
The negotiations dragged on into 1933. The company started to cut a road to the north side of the head and did test blasting there, threatening to open a new cut.
In the meantime the company was beset by falling demand for traprock due to the the Depression and public sentiment against the quarrying was heightened by a serious accident at the quarry.
In the summer of 1933, while Dana was on vacation in Europe, SGPA Secretary Helen Porter tried one more offer of $30,000 to secure the lease. The company accepted the offer, provided the money was paid within six months. In only three months, at the height of the Depression, the resourceful Miss Porter raised the required amount and finally protected the Giant’s head for future generations.
Early SGPA Secretary & Fundraiser
Celebration in the recently-purchased quarry, 1933