Check out the second paragraph here: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~nyne/neh/canton-ct.htm
There is a reference to "certain fruitful vine growing in wild luxuriance" along the Tunxis River near what is now Tarriffville. I did some research a few years ago when I first moved to Simsbury and recall reading something about the name not coming from hops, but from the abundance of salmon and trout that were seen hopping out of the river, thereby inspiring the name for the Hop Brook which is a tributary of the Farmington River, and the surrounding area then being called Hop Meadow, but I'm now not coming across that info when I do some searches.
Have not seen any growing wild, but I also have not hiked that area around the gorge (yet).
What a great tidbit of info from a primary source... I'll have to go see what type of fruitful vines I can find.
Many years ago I heard stories of tobacco growers along the Ct. river tributaries pushing their hops grown for the Breweries over the banks when tobacco became the crop of profit during prohibition. It is rumored that these hops are still growing wild along the banks.
Great info! I really need to do a little recon. and see if there is something to be brewed with...
I can't speak to hopmeadow, specifically. But I know from doing some research that places like hop river (Bolton area) is not at all named after our beloved hops. It's actually a version of hope. It was an old english(?) word for the valley between two hills/mountains. In fact, in old maps until 1811, it was actually labeled as the hope river. Sorry to burst y'alls bubbles :-)
I don't think you're bursting anyone's bubbles with regard to Hopmeadow. Historical info published in 1895 states that the name was Hopmeadow from the moment the area was first discovered by settlers based on the wild vines growing along the river banks. I'm hoping to hike the area this spring and see what I can find.