Poking out from the peak of Talcott Mountain in Simsbury, Connecticut like a spike to heaven, the Heublein Tower is a historic spire that was built sturdy enough to withstand winds of over 100 miles per hour.
Built in 1914, the European-styled tower was created by Gilbert Heublein, a manufacturing magnate who made his fortune in steak sauce and vodka. The tower was intended to be a summer retreat for his family, which he had built after romantically promising his wife that he would one day build her a castle on the peak. In addition to hosting Heublein’s family on holiday, the tower was also visited by a number famous persons including President Dwight Eisenhower.
Designed in a Bavarian style, the 165-foot tall tower was not just nice to look at, it was immensely sturdy as well. The tall tower was based around a quartet of massive steel girders that were sunk into the bedrock. This helped protect the structure from the high winds that assailed the peak. In addition to its unflappable construction, the tower is also home to the first elevator in the state.
Curiously, the pronunciation of the tower is itself up for debate. Being from Germany, the Heublein family pronounced their name the German way, which over the years became changed to being pronounced HIGH-bline. Those who grew up in sight of the tower prior to 1980 called it the “high-bline” tower. When the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company bought the company in 1982 they bought advertising on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Given only written text to read and not having grown up in central Connecticut, Carson pronounced it “Hugh-bline”. Old-times still call it the “high-bline” tower.
Today the tower is open to visitors as a museum that can only be reached by a hiking trail. It may look like an inaccessible fairytale tower, but the Heublein Tower is actually very open.
Know Before You Go
Parking is free on Summit Ridge Drive, which takes you into Talcott Mountain State Park and to the base of the Tower Trail. The trail is about 1.25 miles and a fairly easy hike.