Connecticut River Gateway
Here’s a chance to see the Indians’ Long Tidal River from many angles. Follow it south from Middletown (1), and at Chester (2) take the ferryboat, car and all, for a five minute crossing. On the opposite side, high on a bluff you’ll see Gillette Castle, a latter-day fortress of stone and wood designed by actor-author William Gillette. His portrayal of Sherlock Holmes set the pattern for all actors who have followed him in the part. A drive through wooded hills take you to the shore town of Old Lyme (3), home of one of the largest collections of impressionism art, Florence Griswold Museum. Cross the river on the Baldwin Bridge to Old Saybrook (4), where David Bushnell launched the country’s first submarine in 1776. In Essex (5), the Valley Railroad offers a steam train ride along the river bank, then a midstream view aboard a connecting riverboat. The Connecticut River Museum at Steamboat Dock in Essex will fill you in on the river’s rich past. The next river crossing is by the way of the swing bridge at East Haddam (6). Lots of history here: the Goodspeed Opera House (built 1876), the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse (1750) and probably The oldest bell in Christendom (cast in Spain 815 A.D.). Head north again for your final crossing, the graceful Arrigoni steel arch bridge between Portland (7) and Middletown.
DRIVING TIP: Approximately 80 miles.
Begin in Middletown Go South on Rte. 9 to Exit 10. Take Rte. 154 South to jct. Rte. 148. Go East on Rte. 148 and cross the river by ferry, April to November (NOTE: BETWEEN NOVEMBER AND APRIL, continue south on Rte. 156, through Devils Hopyard State Park, to Rte. 82 and scenic routh 154-see map-and Rte.9 to Middletown closes the loop.)
For Additional Fall Foliage Driving Loops click here.