Nation's Oldest Ferry to Close

Friday, July 15, 2011 - 04:13 PM

(Photo (cc) by Flickr user rbglasson)

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.

(Photo (cc) by Flickr user dougtone)

If anyone knows what the new oldest continuously operating ferry is, please post in comments.


Comments [4]


We had a governor in Connecticut ten years ago who went to jail -- but he never tried to destroy one of the historic monuments of our state.

Aug. 04 2011 07:25 PM

This ferry costs 345,000. The budget gap is 1,600,000,000. Does anyone imagine that the Connecticut governor is not good at math? By the way it was announced this week that the state will pay $400,000 toward a playground in the small town of Hamden. Guess it's not quite out of money.

Aug. 04 2011 07:21 PM

I totally agree with the above's a drop in the bucket...history down the drain and lost

Jul. 17 2011 05:09 PM

This is really too bad. Its history and there is a fee to take the ferries. Why not allow it to be run privately again or raise the fares? People will still take the ferries. Its beautiful where both ferries are and they should not be a victim of the state not knowing how to buget things. Why can't we take some money from the millions that we pay our basketball coaches or to let the ferries continue to run? Or why can't we use the revenue generated from TV by the Uconn sports teams to run the ferries? There has got to be some way to keep them going rather than let history die because of bloated state salaries, overtime and some pensions.

Jul. 17 2011 03:14 PM

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