Outer Island Highlights
Addison Emery Verrill, 1st Prof. of Zoology at Yale, built the first house in 1889; he was Curator of Yale’s Peabody Museum at 25 and often brought students out to the island for workshops.
Leonard & Grace Weil purchased it in 1927. After the stock market crash in 1929 they lived in the boathouse (now the marine lab) to save on expenses. They made the island self-sustaining by raising animals (goats, ducks, rabbits, chickens, dogs, burro) & vegetables; Grace became one of the area’s first lobsterwomen. They had four children who loved playing on the island; son Danky died in a tragic boat fire.
Basil Rauch & Elizabeth Hird were the last owners. He was Professor of History at Columbia University and she was an architect and founding member of the Killingworth Land Trust. They often entertained guests with musicians on a stage they had built.
Outer Island was donated to the US Fish And Wildlife Service by Elizabeth Hird. She continued to live on the island until her death in 2002.
Refuge initiates a meeting to form a Friends group; FOI formally meets in January, 2002.
Observation deck and walkway built
Cottage renovated and adjacent deck built
Educational Pavilion built
New tool shed built
New floating dock installed
Stony Creek and Outer Island Geology:
The “African Connection"
prepared by Prof. L.P. Gromet, Brown University,
especially for Friends of Outer Island,
Thanks to Rusty Norton, FOI
At the end of the Paleozoic Era,
some 275 million years ago, the Stony Creek
area sat in the middle of a collision zone
between the North American, African, and
European continents. That is to say that the
modern Atlantic Ocean did not yet exist, and
all the continents were gathered together to
form a single landmass, known as Pangea (a
contraction meaning "all lands").
The Stony Creek area is particularly interesting in that is located at the juncture between what previously were North American and West African rocks. The rocks in the Stony Creek area are mostly of two general types of granite: an older granite of Precambrian age, about 625 million years old, and younger granite about 275 million years old. The same kind of rocks extend to the east, into Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts, and extend, discontinuously, northward up through maritime Canada.
These rocks are often referred to as "Avalonia", after the Avalon Peninsula in eastern Newfoundland, where these types
of rocks were first recognized as being very distinct from the rest of North America. Very similar rocks are found in
West Africa, particularly in the mountains of Morocco. This observation supports the idea that, collectively, these
Avalonian rocks originally formed as part of the African continent.
In contrast, rocks to the west, from New Haven and beyond, include different and much older rocks, 1 billion years old and older. These rocks are common to vast regions to the west, including western New England, New York State, and
beyond into the interior. These rocks represent the original (pre-275-million-year-old) North American continent. When the continents split apart in the Mesozoic Era, the new breaks didn't form precisely where the original sutures were. Hence, tracts of land that had originally formed as part of Africa were left attached to North America. It may be that
some of the granite that formed at 275 million years ago helped to strengthen the suture region, so that as the
continents pulled apart, these pieces were left adhered to North America.