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Oct 31, 2021

What more do we need to know about Sam Colt? In Hartford we have the iconic blue-domed Colt Armory, Colt Park, the Colt addition to the Wadsworth Atheneum, the Church of the Good Shepard and Colt’s home Armsmear. But it turns out that we may not have known much about Colt’s life before he became fabulously wealthy—he traveled with a novelty act, womanized, drank, smuggled guns to Russia, bribed politicians, and blew up ships in New York Harbor with electricity.

Mary Donohue, Asst. Publisher of Connecticut Explored, the magazine of Connecticut history, digs into some of these stories with Jim Rasenberger, author of Revolver: Sam Colt and the Six-shooter that Changed America.

He is the author of three other booksThe Brilliant DisasterAmerica, 1908; and High Steel—and has contributed to the New York TimesVanity FairSmithsonian, and other publications. A native of Washington, DC, he lives in New York City. Find out more at

Coltsville, Sam’s industrial village including the Colt Armory, workers housing, and his estate, have been listed as a National Historic Landmark and authorized as a National Historical Park under the guidance of the National Park Service. For more history and self-guided tours, go to their website at

Find out more about Sam Colt in these Connecticut Explored stories:

This episode of Grating the Nutmeg was produced by Mary Donohue and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan. Donohue has documented the built environment and pop culture for over 30 years. Contact her at

This episode of Grating the Nutmeg received support from the State Historic Preservation Office of the Dept of Economic and Community Development with funds from the Community Investment Act of the State of Connecticut.

Subscribe to Connecticut Explored at