Essex Steam Train and Riverboat – Essex CT

RATING: ♦♦♦♦

It was another beautiful fall day in Connecticut, and we were still at Longview RV waiting for a part to fix our water heater. We wanted something fun to do for the day. We mentioned to our parts guy that we thinking about taking the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat tour, and he recommended it and said we should also go to nearby Gillette Castle.

We drove to historic 1892 Essex Station where we began our tour aboard a vintage 1921 coach, pulled by a steam locomotive. The train traveled through the beautiful Connecticut River Valley via the small New England towns of Deep River and Chester.

Then we were dropped off at Deep River Landing where we boarded the Becky Thatcher riverboat for a narrated cruise along the Connecticut River. After the cruise, we returned to the landing where our train picked us up and returned to Essex.

We were surprised how many people were on the tour. The 200+ passenger boat was full. All people our age or older.

We left Essex and drove a few miles to the town of Chester where we drove our car onto the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry that took us to the other side of the river. The ferry is part of the scenic portion of Route 148 and provides a link between the Essex Steam Train and Gillette Castle State Park.

Gillette Castle is a 24-room mansion reminiscent of a medieval castle. It was built in the early 1900’s by William Gillette, who was a stage actor, director, and playwright, most famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. Gillette lived in the castle from 1919-1937.

We had seen the castle at a distance from both the train and the riverboat. We would have liked to tour the inside, but were unable to because it closed on Labor Day. But we were able to walk the grounds and enjoy the unique beauty of the castle and the spectacular views from high on the hill above the Connecticut River.

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