Uncas Leap

Uncas Leap Heritage Area

Acquired by the City of Norwich in 2010, the area has historical significance to the community and has remained a sacred part of Mohegan Tribe history since 1643. The 1.2-acre landmark along the Yantic River is the site of the culmination of the Battle of Great Plains between the Mohegan and Narragansett Tribes.

The Uncas Leap Steering Committee

The Uncas Leap Steering Committee is a collaboration of representatives from the City of Norwich (Mayor’s Office and including city departments Planning and Community Development, Norwich Community Development Corp., Public Works and Engineering), members of the Mohegan Tribal Nation, the Norwich Historical Society, and private citizens /area residents. The Committee’s goal is to turn the Uncas Leap Heritage Area into a park for visitors and residents to enjoy. The Committee meets regularly to discuss project updates.

The Grant Funded Uncas Leap Heritage Area Master Plan

At its heart, the Uncas Leap Master Planning process has been about creating an exceptional space on a very small (1.2 acres) but beautiful, impressive, and historically important site – a space that not only respects the site’s cultural sensitivity but celebrates it. Through the efforts of the Uncas Leap Steering Committee, this dramatic property on Yantic Street has been the subject of a ±18-month master plan design effort. The Steering Committee, with input from the public, formed a consensus on desirable design intents and proposed elements for a master plan that best suits the beauty and character of Uncas Leap Heritage Park and their vision for the park.

The dynamic river gorge with its steep bedrock formations shaped by the rushing waters of Yantic Falls creates a space with spectacular visual beauty and all-season interest nestled in a historic urban neighborhood. Uncas Leap Heritage Park has great significance associated with both a heritage and history of settlement and use by the Mohegan Tribe as well as subsequent colonial and industrial-age development. The land has been the subject of intensive studies and analysis, with a 2013 report entitled “Uncas Leap Falls: A Convergence of Cultures” being an integral planning document preceding the master plan design effort. The overall theme of the Uncas Leap Heritage Park master plan is to capitalize on the site’s natural beauty and provide for a sustainable, maintainable design that reflects, in an aesthetically pleasing and engaging fashion, the heritage of cultures long associated with the site and surrounding area.

An important economic development approach identified through this Master Plan is to build an integrated tourism strategy for the city that brings in outside energy and revenue by taking advantage of Norwich’s unique heritage— not only a re-emphasis on Norwich’s dynamic Revolutionary, Civil War and industrial history, but a parallel stress on its partnership with the Mohegans, from Uncas Leap forward to the last decades’ casino/ resort development and its importance to the city’s employment base and consumer economy.

Funding for the project was made possible through the State of Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), as well as by the City through federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. The master plan for Uncas Leap Heritage Park represents part of a comprehensive planning effort undertaken for the project site by Milone & MacBroom, Inc. The master planning process was initiated in 2015 and Milone & MacBroom completed their work in 2018.

About the Consulting Firm

Milone & MacBroom is one of Connecticut’s largest multidisciplinary planning, engineering, water resources, and design firms and has over three decades of experience. Milone & MacBroom, Inc. combines the expertise of our planners, civil and transportation engineers, landscape architects, and both scientific and technical support staff to apply a collaborative approach to each project we undertake. With its corporate office located in Cheshire, Connecticut, the firm is supported by regional offices located in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.

Click here to view the final draft of the Master Plan: UL-MP_draft (1)

A Brief History of Uncas Leap

Norwich, Connecticut is a portion of the traditional territory of the Mohegan Nation. Three miles south of Norwich sits the current Mohegan reservation in Uncasville. Norwich is filled with significant places relating to the Mohegan Tribe. Join us as we explore these historic sites and discover the Mohegan Tribe’s deep connection to the City of Norwich.

For many generations, well before contact with Europeans, there was a landing on the shore at the bottom of the Yantic Falls, where the water becomes calm. Here the Mohegans brought their canoes ashore bearing their dead. Beyond the landing, on a plateau that rises 20-30 feet above the shore, is the traditional burial place for Mohegans. They brought deceased relations from the canoes on litters and carried them up an incline that ran from the plateau’s base to its top where tribal leaders and their families were interred. The burial grounds were marked on one side by the ravine and spread outward along the ravine for 16 acres. Join us as we explore the deep history behind this sacred site.