The history behind the Sleeping Giant

By on September 12, 2006

On your ride to Quinnipiac, it’s hard to miss the mountainous region also known as Sleeping Giant. Many have trekked the trails across from campus, but few know the history behind the mountain.

Dating back about 170 million years ago, volcanic eruptions formed the columnar patterns of basaltic rock called ridges. In Connecticut, most of these ridges run from north to south, but one unique ridge six miles north of New Haven runs from east to west. It is this particular ridge that has the distinctive profile of a recumbent human.

Sleeping Giant Mountain has graced Quinnipiac with her beauty since 1929 when the university was founded. For years, students and faculty alike have enjoyed the giant’s ever changing splendor.

“The scenery from the top of the mountain is magnificent especially now with the foliage,” said Meg Craver, sophomore physician assistant major from Dudley, Mass.

Years ago, when Native Americans were residents to the area, they called the Giant by the name Hobbomock. Hobbomock referred to an evil spirit who became angry at the neglect of his people and stamped his foot near the current location of Middletown, causing the Connecticut River to change course.

In response to Hobomock’s damage, Keitan, a good spirit cast a spell on Hobomock causing him to sleep forever.

By the second half of the nineteenth century, Judge Willis Cook owned the first ridge of the Giant’s head and had an ox road built to the top of the head so he could transport building materials for a cottage. Parts of this road are now the blue trail on the north side of the head.

In 1911 Cook decided to accept an offer from the Mount Carmel Traprock Company to lease the land for quarrying because vandals of the property were becoming such a nuisance. The company gained rights over the property for the next 20 years, but because of the constant blasting neighbors became discontent, leading to the change of the Giant’s shape and the formation of the Sleeping Giant Park Association.

SGPA, a group of volunteers, bought over the ridges on Mt. Carmel and made it a state park in 1924. SGPA maintains more than 30 miles of trails in the park, permanently protects over 1,500 acres and acquires land to add to the park.

Although students may not know the history to the Giant, they still have plenty to enjoy.

“It’s definitely a nice sight when you are on your way to class,” said Steve Goldblatt, a freshman media production major from Jackson, N.J.

Despite the mountain’s extravagance, many students at Quinnipiac don’t experience what the Giant has to offer until a professor mandates a hike.

“I need to climb Sleeping Giant in the next couple days for class,” Goldblatt said.

Meanwhile, another student feels climbing the Giant is as required as English 101.

“I never felt like I was missing out on anything, but I felt like I had to do it at least once during my four years here,” said Caitlin Zavorskas, a senior media studies major from Matawan, N.J.

The Sleeping Giant State Park is open everyday from 8 a.m. – sunset and offers a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, nature trails, trout fishing, picnicking and camping. The Giant also boasts a 1 1/2 mile scenic trail leading to the stone observation tower on the peak of Mt. Carmel. Those willing brave the hike to the top will be rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Quinnipiac campus and can see Long Island Sound and the New Haven area at a distance.

“I’ve run up the mountain so many times” Craver said, “but the best is when you get to the top and see the amazing view.”


About Jennifer Rosenbaum