Named in 1868 for Bernard J. Calvert, the hamlet’s first postmaster, Calverton was essentially a farming community carved out of marshland. Before that, it had been called Baiting Hollow Station after the railroad came in 1844. The Indians called it Conungum or Kanungum, meaning a ‘fixed line’ or ‘boundary.’
farmstandLike areas in neighboring Manorville and Riverhead, Calverton’s swampy wetlands made it ideal for cranberry bogs. At its peak in the early 1900s, the cranberry business employed hundreds of women and children who picked the berries by hand and earned about $2 a day. The last of the cranberry farms, Davis Marsh off Swan Pond Road in Calverton, closed in the 1970s and today is the site of the Swan Lake Golf Course.
As the Shelter Island Express sped toward its next stop after pulling out of Manorville on Aug. 13, 1926, the train hit a faulty switch and plunged into Golden’s Pickle Works. Six people died, including the engineer, who drowned in the vat. The incident was known as the Great Pickle Works Wreck.
In 1953, the U.S. Navy acquired 4,000 acres in Calverton and leased it to Grumman Aircraft Engineering Co. The aviation giant spent several decades assembling planes there for the Navy, including the Tomcat and E-2C Hawkeye. In a downsizing of its Long Island operations, Grumman in 1995 shut down its Calverton plant, which once employed 3,000. The last Grumman plane took off from Calverton in June, 1995. The Navy had planned to return the facility to the Town of Riverhead, but those plans were put on hold when the FBI and National Transportation Safety Board decided to use a Calverton hangartrain tracks to rebuild the wreckage recovered from the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800. Calverton is also the home of the 1,052-acre national cemetery that opened in 1978 as the Long Island National Cemetery in Pinelawn became filled. More than 133,000 veterans and their relatives have been buried in Calverton.