The Collinsville Axe Factory is not only a historical landmark here in Canton, but it’s a great place to visit and a must-see destination if you’re visiting. Home to more than 50 small businesses like Milkweeds, Bridge Street Rustics, and the Collinsville T Shirt Factory, the Axe Factory is one of our favorite day destinations. It can be seen while you’re taking a stroll down the Farmington River or having a beer at Lasalle Market & Deli.
As the temperature rises, we can’t help but get excited about all the summer activities happening by the Farmington River. Some of our favorites are kayaking at Collinsville Canoe and Kayak, fishing, and tubing. Whether you’re going for a hike or spending the day by the water, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Collinsville Axe Factory— it’s hard to miss with the brick red exterior and lush green foliage.
Spend the Day in Collinsville
Collinsville is a walkable downtown, and its size makes it a perfect weekend day trip or a great stop along the way as you bike along the Farmington River Trail. We encourage you to shop at the Collinsville Axe Factory or on downtown main street. If you’d like to explore the outdoors, we have a great list of resources for things to do on the Farmington River.
The History of the Factory
From its founding in 1826 by two brothers, Samuel Watkinson Collins, David C. Collins, and their cousin, William Wells, the Collins Company proved to be one of the most innovative edged-tool manufacturers in the world. Before the factory was established, people had originally gone to blacksmith shops for axe heads. At the time, the company had a small crew of eight—where they each forged, tempered, and sharpened eight ready-to-use axes per day.
By 1831, the demand for Collins's high-quality products grew exponentially, leading to an influx of workers arriving in town. Housing, offices, a church, and a school were built as workers and their families settled in.
Growth Beyond Connecticut
During the 1850’s, the company was exporting over 150 patterns of machetes and axes along with hoes, adzes, picks, bush hooks, plows, shovels, and other tools specially designed to meet local needs and preferences overseas. Over time, many buildings and machines were built to keep up with demand. A lot of these buildings still stand today and can be seen on both sides of the Farmington River.
Competition, labor costs, tariff barriers, and other factors moved Collins to establish the first of its foreign plants in Mexico in 1954. In the early 1960s, Collins sold the majority of its company houses, giving priority to the employees and families who had been renting for years. By 1966 the company dissolved. Today, Collins axes are manufactured in Mexico by Truper Herramientas.