Our History

The creation of the Woodcock Preserve was the inspiration of J.M. Woodcock, a visionary Ridgefield resident. Today, with an unspoiled habitat of over 140 acres, the Woodcock Nature Center offers year-round activities and a natural tranquility and beauty in the heart of Fairfield County.

 

Located on 149 acres of state-protected land originally inhabited by the Siwanog tribe, the Woodcock Nature Preserve includes a pond, wetlands and 3 miles of publicly accessible woodland trails. The Center is home to a variety of living local and exotic creatures including snakes, frogs and lizards. We also house a handful of injured birds of prey.


The Preserve is a haven for aquatic life and a remarkable variety of birds. Along our trails you’ll find historic stone walls and stands of old maple, beech, oak and hickory trees. Boardwalks allow rare access through part of the rich, abundant wetlands nestled in the woods. In these graceful surroundings, young and old can experience the rich, renewing world of nature. Our woodland trails are open to all, sunrise to sunset, everyday of the year.

Woodcock has been a source of environmental and nature education since 1972. The staff, which includes three full-time educators, work with local youth to teach and develop programming designed to instill a love and respect for nature. They work with the local protected wildlife to serve as a resource for educating the community about our natural surroundings through public outreach, school field trips and visits, on-site birthday parties  and our extremely popular summer camps.

The Woodcock Nature Center receives no governmental funding, so your donations and program and event involvement are crucial to our survival. Thank you for your support!

History of the Land at
Woodcock Nature Center

WNC is 150 total acres. 64 acres are in Ridgefield and 89 acres are in  Wilton

Ridgefield (64 acres)

Wilton (89 Acres)

Pre-Settlers

Ridgefield 

Indigenous Tribes: Ramapo and Katonah

Wilton 

Indigenous Tribe: Siwanog - Members of the Siwanog tribe farmed, hunted, and fished in the fertile Norwalk River Valley in an Area they called Pimpewaug

1700s

Ridgefield

Alexander Resseguie - Frenchman who acquired farms on the Ridgefield side of the WNC Property around 1709. Probably Ridgefield's wealthiest settler

Wilton​​

Jonathon Wood - Wilton's first permanent English settler, moved to Wilton in 1706​

Ebenezer Smith​ - Owned Brimstone swamp (WNC Land) in 1717​

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CT was mostly forest before the settlers arrived

1800s

Ridgefield

1812 Spanish 1/2 Reale coin found on Ridgefield side of WNC Property

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Wilton​​

Wilton voted to separate from Norwalk in August 1801 and it was approved on May 20, 1802

 

Hiram Davis - Born in 1849 on Davis Family Farm (WNC Land). Served in the Civil War with 3 other brothers, one of whom never returned. Died in 1947 at 98 as one of the last 47 Civil War veterans in the USA​

1812 Spanish Reale Found near trails

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During the 1800s most of the land in CT was converted to farmland

Early 1900s

Ridgefield

From this period we found many shotgun shells and a 1942 Silver Dime

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The forest regrew around the stonewalls used to fence in sheep on the property

Wilton​​

Land still owned by the Davis Family Farm. There was lots of hunting on the property evident through shotgun shells found. Also the Wilton side of the property on the purple trail was used as dumping ground for car parts. You can still find those today.

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Late 1900s

Ridgefield and Wilton

1972: Former Ridgefield First Selectman J. Mortimer Woodcock (also known as Woody Woodcock) founded Woodcock Nature Center

More history coming soon!