Apr 2, 2014
02:13 PM
History

Historic Connecticut River Ferry Crossings Are Great Spring Adventure

Historic Connecticut River Ferry Crossings Are Great Spring Adventure

Crossing the Connecticut River between Chester and Hadlyme, in a photo from the state's website.

Looking for a different type of Connecticut adventure to greet the arrival—finally—of spring?

This is it: Crossing the Connecticut River on one of the state’s historic ferry services offers a sense of heritage, a way to connect at waterline-level with a beautiful landscape, a singular charm and an overarching fun factor. (Above right and right, photos of the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.)

And taking the trip can be the focal point of a daytrip that also involves the arts, fine dining, and shopping, as the towns served by the ferries, Chester and Hadlyme in one case, and Rocky Hill and Glastonbury in the other, are lifestyle-experience-rich havens.

The ferries were scheduled to begin seasonal service again April 1, but initially the high water level of the river prevented the ferries from running, according to a recording at the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry (860-526-2743). They will now operate through Nov. 30, from 7 a.m. to 6:45 on weekdays and 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends. To check on the status of ferry operations, you can also call the Connecticut Department of Transportation Bureau of Aviation & Ports at (860) 443-3856.

We’ll leave the discovery of the ferries and things to do in the towns they connect up to you.

In the spirit of getting-there-is-half-the-fun, here are five facts each (sourced from the state’s web pages) about the Connecticut River ferries to help tempt you into a voyage.

Chester-Hadlyme Ferry

√ The Chester-Hadlyme Ferry began service in 1769 and was orginally operated by Jonathan Warner, who owned the land on both sides of the river.
√ The ferry was often used throughout the Revolutionary War  to transport needed supplies across the river.
√ The original ferry was pushed across the river using long poles. A steam-powered barge began to serve the ferry crossing in 1879.
√ The present ferry, the Selden III, was built in 1949. It can accommodate eight to nine cars and 49 passengers. 
√ The cost is $5 per vehicle on weekdays; $6 on weekends. Pedestrians and people with bikes pay $2. (Costs are the same for the ferry below.)


 

 

√ The nation's oldest continuously operating ferry service crosses the Connecticut River between Rocky Hill and Glastonbury.
√ The original ferry, which dates back to 1655, was a small raft pushed across the river using long poles. 
√ The ferry service was such a vital transportation link within the region that crossing would cease only during the most adverse conditions.
√ At one time, a horse on a treadmill in the center of the craft supplied the power. In 1876, the ferry was "modernized" into a steam driven craft. 
 √ Today's ferry is the "Hollister III", a three-car barge towed back and forth by the "Cumberland," a diesel powered towboat.

See the state's web pages for more on the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry and the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry. (Above and right, photos of the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury ferry from the state's website.)

Also see the story Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, a charming anachronism? from the Shoreline Times.

 

Historic Connecticut River Ferry Crossings Are Great Spring Adventure

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