Chepiwanoxet Wildlife Preserve

The name Chepiwanoxet is a Narragansett Indian word, which has two different meanings ascribed to it: one is “devil’s island,” the other, “at the small separated place.” I prefer the later, although devil’s island seems to fit right in with devil’s foot road not far South of Chepiwaonxet.

The 10 acre preserve at Chepiwaonxet, which used to be an island, is located half way between Greenwich and Apponaug Cove right at the end of Alger Road.

Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation from the Henry A.L. Brown Collection

Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation from the Henry A.L. Brown Collection


The former Island has a very rich and quite intriguing history. Mr. Dutee Arnold, a wealthy local landowner, purchased the land in 1868 and opened it to the public as a park. After his death in the 1880s she the land was eventually sold to Edson Gallaudet, the second licensed pilot in the US, who subsequently built an aircraft factory there. The company was apparently a precursor to General Dynamics who still operates in Rhode Island today building the Virginia class Submarine, although there aircraft division is elsewhere. A causeway was created the for a Gallaudet seaplane factory in cc. 1915 for trucks to reach the factory, fill was dumped into the marsh, making the causeway access which still remains today. The airplane factory opened in 1917, and by the early 1920s Reuben H. Fleet became general manager of the Gallaudet Aircraft Company. Fleet was well known as an early pioneer of military aviation and the Air Mail Service. He had proposed purchasing Dayton-Wright from General Motors but was unable to interest other Gallaudet executives in the deal. Fleet then started his own company named Consolidated in 1923 and bought out both Dayton-Wright and Gallaudet. Consolidated went on to produce such famous aircraft as the B-24 Liberator bomber and Catalina flying boat before itself being merged into General Dynamics and later Lockheed.

Currently, the area has signs indicating that it is polluted, and not to eat the shell fish; although the signs appear quite faded. However, it is clear that there is melted scrape metal, perhaps left behind from the aircraft factory, and other small debris along the beach. Nonetheless, the area is overall very picturesque, offering many sweeping vistas of the bay.

Reference:
“Edson Gallaudet” Aerospace.org, http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/q0001.shtml

“Chepiwanoxet Point” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chepiwanoxet_Island_(Rhode_Island)

“Cheipwanoxet TB Resort” Geocaching- The Official Global GPS Cache Hunt Site, http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=9648480c-03e5-4379-99ae-9f0397171218

Christine Dunn, “Providence Journal- Neighborhood of the Week: Homey, unpretentious, on the water”, http://www.projo.com/projohomes/neighborhood/content/HO_chepiwanoxet0812_08-12-07_FA6G5BK.2822fd6.html

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