Historic Speedwell


Historic Speedwell is a 7.5-acre "village" that includes the home of Stephen Vail, who built the Speedwell Ironworks in the early 1800s. The Speedwell Ironworks was a major industrial center until the mid-1860s, producing engines and other equipment for the maritime, railroad, and telegraph industries. Visitors can see engineering drawings that were used in 1818 to build the engine for the S.S. Savannah, the first steamship to cross the Atlantic. The other major highlight is the building where Vail's son, Alfred, worked with Samuel Morse in 1837-38 to perfect the electromagnetic telegraph.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Industrial & Manufacturing, Mechanical
Topic(s):Technology/Materials
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:At this location, in 1837, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail, the Speedwell Ironworks owner's son, conducted the first successful public demonstration of the telegraph. At the time, Morse had not yet adopted the dot-dash system but had assigned a number to each of some 5,000 commonly used words. Thus "England" was "252," and "Wednesday," "4030."