The nation's oldest continuously operating ferry boat service will shut down after 356 years due to budget cuts in Connecticut.
Historical archives say the Rocky Hill Ferry has been crossing the Connecticut River since 1655. It was privately operated, mostly by local families under state charter, for 260 years before being adopted by the state in 1915. It is currently operated by the Connecticut Department of Transportation.
The state historic landmark marker posted at the site of the ferry (photo below) reads:
"Since 1655, public transportation across the Connecticut River has been provided at this site ... Motive power has been supplied at various times by poles, oars, a horse treadmill and a steam engine."
The Connecticut DOT website states:
"At one time, a horse on a treadmill in the center of the craft supplied the power to propel the craft across the river. In 1876, the ferry was "modernized" into a steam driven craft. Today's craft is an open flatboat named the "Hollister III". The three-car barge is towed back and forth by the "Cumberland," a diesel powered towboat."
The Ferry service costs about $345,000 to operate, according to local press reports. Governor Dannel Malloy has put the Rocky Hill and Chester-Hadlyme ferries--in operation 242 years--on the chopping block as part of an effort to close a $1.6 billion budget gap. Employees have been notified their jobs will be eliminated and service halted on August 25.
If anyone knows what the new oldest continuously operating ferry is, please post in comments.