P. T. Barnum's Ivy Island

Ballfield Road, Bethel, Fairfield County, Connecticut

85 acres

north of the end of the main trail at East Swamp Wildlife Management Area


entrance by Russell J. Crowe Little League Ball Field area located at the end of Ballfield Road off of Maple Avenue


P. T. Barnum grew up in Bethel.  (See the history of Bethel on this website.)

If I remember correctly, as a young boy, P. T. Barnum was the butt of an elaborate town practical joke (with his father in on the whole thing).  His father and townspeople would refer to him as the King or the Emperor of Ivy Island.  P. T. though himself someone special who would come into something important when he was older.  While he swelled with pride, the towns people and his own father were laughing at him (not with him).  When he finally found out that his kingdom was a small island surrounded by marshlands, it is said that his personality changed.  He felt he had been played the fool and resented it deeply. 

In one sense, the career of P. T. Barnum was one of trying to take advantage of suckers that can be taken advantage of by someone slicker.  Payback perhaps.


upland and wetland habitats


7/14/2005.  On an overcast day, dog Sonar and I parked on the left side of the road across from the Russell J. Crowe baseball field.  The trail begins at the green gate.  We started walking north on the trail.  To my right was the marsh and on my left was a large hill.  The trail kept going north all the way to P. T. Barnum's Ivy Island. 

There is a fork in the trail on the left a little distance before reaching Ivy Island.  On the way back we took the trail which climbs up the hill and then starts following the power cut for the overhead electric lines.  

I have seen hawks being mobbed by small birds, but today I saw a blue heron being chased by red winged blackbirds.  The noisy objection of the blue heron caused me to take note of the goings on.

At the Island, there is a small wooden bridge over a small body of water connecting two sides of marsh.  Crossed the bridge and went through an alleyway of Phragmites.  Soon came out of that area onto a wooded island.  The island has a fairy high ridge on the left side.  I started to climb up the ridge when I realized that a beaver(s) had dammed part of the marsh.  I heard and saw a beaver quickly swimming away from the dog and me.  Stopped for a water break.  I noticed that quite a few small trees had been downed by the beaver(s).    After our break, we climbed up onto the ridge and walked along a  rough trail.  There were lots of beech and oaks, including chestnut oak, which loves high places. 

Walked to the end of the small island and reached more marsh.  Turned around and walked back to the car (with one side trip up the hill on the mainland).  Dr. Patrick L. Cooney. 

Dr. Patrick L. Cooney

*  =  plant blooming on date of field trips, 7/14/2005

Amelanchier arborea (shadbush)
Betula populifolia (gray birch)
Fagus grandifolia (American beech)
Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip tree)
Prunus serotina (black cherry)
Quercus alba (white oak)
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Quercus rubra (red oak)
Quercus velutina (black oak)

Shrubs and Subshrubs:
Berberis thunbergii (Japanese barberry)  
Chimaphila maculata (striped wintergreen)     *
Cornus amomum (swamp dogwood)    
Elaeagnus umbellata (autumn olive)
Eubotrys racemosa (fetterbush)
Hamamelis virginiana (witch hazel)
Kalmia latifolia (mountain laurel)
Lonicera morrowii (Morrow's honeysuckle)
Rhododendron periclymenoides (pinxter flower)
Rosa multiflora (multiflora rose)  
Rubus sp. (blackberry)
Toxicodendron vernix (poison sumac)
Viburnum acerifolium (maple-leaf viburnum)
Viburnum lentago (nannyberry viburnum)

Apios americana (groundnut)
Celastrus orbiculatus (Asiatic bittersweet)
Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

Alisma subcordatum (southern water plantain)     *
Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)     *
Asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed)     *
Boehmeria cylindrica (false nettle)     *
Galium spp. (bedstraw)
Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)
Ludwigia palustris (water purslane)     *
 Lysimachia nummularia (moneywort)
Lythrum salicaria (purple loosestrife)     *
Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)
Medeola virginiana (wild cucumberroot)
Pilea pumila (clearweed)
Rorippa palustris (marsh yellowcress)     *
Rumex crispus (curled dock)
Stellaria pubera (giant chickweed)     *
Symplocarpus foetidus (skunk cabbage)
Verbena hastata (blue vervain)     *

Juncus effusus (soft rush)

Carex laxiflora type (loose-flowered type sedge)
Carex pensylvanica (Pennsylvania sedge)
Carex stricta (tussock sedge)
Carex vulpinoidea (fox sedge)
Eleocharis sp. (spikerush)
Scirpus atrovirens (dark-green bulrush)

Phalaris arundinacea (reed canary grass)
Phragmites australis (giant reed grass)

Ferns and Fern Allies:
Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)
Equisetum hyemale (scouring rush)
Lycopodium digitatum (southern ground cedar)
Dennstaedtia punctilobula (hay-scented fern)
Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)
Osmunda cinnamomea (cinnamon fern)
Thelypteris noveboracensis (New York fern)


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