Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry - Atlas Obscura

Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry

This Connecticut ferry has been operating in some form since 1655. 


The oldest continually operating ferry service in the United States is older than the United States. In the mid-17th century, the areas of Rocky Hill and Glastonbury were settled by European colonists on each side of the Connecticut River. A private ferry service was established in 1655 to connect the two growing settlements. The original ferry was a raft pushed across the river by the operator with oars or long poles. The fare was four pence per person, horse, or load, with rates halved for horseback riders and doubled on Sundays or during high waters.

The ferrymen eventually upgraded to boats; one even created a vessel powered by a horse on a treadmill. By the mid-19th century, many other ferry services along the river had ceased operation, but the Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry continued to run. In 1876, the vessel was upgraded to a steamship, and in 1915, the state took over operations. The ferry remains in service today, taking the form of a diesel-powered towboat named the Cumberland which tugs a barge named the Hollister III.

What’s the use of the ferry? The ferry saves drivers (and especially walkers and cyclists) the 13-mile detour of crossing the river on Connecticut Route 3, and the journey across takes only four minutes. Beyond the ferry’s utility, it gives us some glimpse of travel before the car and the crucial role rivers played in shaping the development of the United States.

Know Before You Go

The ferry runs between April 1 and November 30, except on Thanksgiving. The fare for cyclists and pedestrians is $2. For drivers, it's $5 on weekdays and $6 on weekends.

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April 4, 2024

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