ROGERS (Captain, Real Escape
Charter Yacht): And, look, I’m around a great bunch of people here
enjoying themselves. An 80th birthday. My gosh. You know? Who
wouldn’t want to be here on the water on a gorgeous day like this with
people enjoying themselves? I mean, it’s contagious.
CRONKITE: Today, recreational boating is a pastime available to many
Connecticut residents. The concept of pleasure boating first became a
reality for most people in the early 1800s, with the
newly invented steamboat. For the first time, Connecticut’s rivers
conveniently connected state residents to the sea and previously
far-off ports for both business and pleasure.
MILKOFSKY (Dir., Wethersfield Historical Society): Steamboats were
really the leading edge of the transportation revolution in the early
19th Century. And
for the first time shippers didn’t have to worry about the wind or
the tide and of great importance to the development of business was
the fact that you could count on them coming.
were really the first, with the exception of those gut-wrenching
stagecoaches, the first public transportation that was embraced by
lots and lots of Americans.
of course, were not uncommon to steamboats.
But the American public loved the steamboat and they embraced
the industry and more competition meant.
The boats were improved with very elegant appointments. They,
of course, became known for speed and they really vied for audiences
by having crystal chandeliers and grand salons with rosewood furniture
and brocade upholstery and wonderful tapestries and interior
was steamboats that enabled hundreds of New Yorkers to come up the
Connecticut past Goodspeed’s Landing here in East Haddam to Upper
Landing just to the north where there was a great hotel, The Champion
House, and a very successful music seminary. William Goodspeed who was
a great entrepreneur and had a general store in town didn’t like to
see people going by his establishment and so in 1876 he opened this
marvelous opera house. …He brought New York theater to people along
the Connecticut River and that in turn attracted summer visitors. This
was sort of the beginning of destination tourism and establishments
like this sprung up all along the steamboat routes.
CRONKITE: Although the steamboat transportation industry is long
vanished, thousands of Connecticut residents still use the water as an
alternative to travel over land.
the Water Street Dock in downtown Bridgeport, ferries owned by the
Bridgeport Port Jefferson Steamboat Company traverse the sound several
times a day. Started in
the late 1800s by a group that included P. T. Barnum, the ferries run
year round, and along with the ferry service at New London, comprise a
water highway linking Connecticut to Long Island. About 2.2 million
passengers use the ferries each year taking about 745,000 vehicles off
the late 1990s, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, whose ancestors
once traveled the Sound in huge dugout canoes, established the Pequot
River Shipworks to build
high-speed TriCatamaran ferries. The shipyard ceased building ferries in 1999 after 5 craft
were built. Today the tribal owned Fox Navigation operates 2 TriCats for a
tribal ferry service on
Long Island Sound.
THE BEAUTIFUL SEA
CRONKITE: The tribal ferries often carry people whose destination is
the area casinos and other southeastern Connecticut attractions.
are the modern-day counterpart to the steamers that helped bring
mid-19th Century residents to riverside and coastal areas
for rest and recreation.
Island, opened in the 1840s, was one such popular destination for
Connecticut and Rhode Island residents who ferried in for a respite
from work and business.
tourism in Connecticut benefits greatly from the state’s maritime
heritage. In the
southeastern part of Connecticut water-related tourism is a
significant part of the economy.
In New London,
Ocean Beach has attracted area beachgoers since 1888. Letizia Smith's family moved to Ocean Beach in 1940 when her
parents purchased the Mayberry Hotel.
Smith (Co-Chair, Save Ocean
Beach): During the height of the summer people used to come and spend
from 4 to 6 weeks here in the summertime as a summer resort for them.
The families would stay and dad would go home and work during the week
and just come back on the weekends
…And of course the local people were here all the time.
was blanket-to-blanket on the beach and people would come and stake
out their spot early in the day.
People had their bathhouses here and they kept their umbrellas
and their beach chairs here for the whole summer.
It was really a complete amusement park for adults and
children, all of that was here and little by little that all
CRONKITE: The museums and tourist centers of Southeastern.
Connecticut play a large role in bringing the story of
Connecticut and the sea to hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
southeastern part of Connecticut has a strong maritime tradition.
CARR (Exec. Dir., Mystic Seaport): from its earliest days and
they’re being carried on and perpetuated by a number of
organizations in the area. The Mystic Seaport, The Lighthouse Museum
in Stonington, the Nautilus Museum,
the Customs House Museum in New London, the Coast Guard Museum in
New London, The Eagle, Mystic Aquarium all covering different aspects
of the maritime story.
(VP Programs and Exhibitions, Mystic Aquarium): People come to this
region and they’re accustomed, in fact, expecting to get, I think, a
lesson about the sea. And ¾
and they’re able to learn about the sea’s history, about
people’s interaction with the sea, about the natural history. I
think it’s a synergistic effect that ¾
that all the institutions in this area are ¾
are creating by being here.
FINNIGAN (Curator, Nautilus /Submarine Force Museum): The Submarine Force Museum was actually started by the
Electric Boat Company in 1955. And
when the Nautilus decommissioned in 1980, they refurbished it and
decided to open it up to the public, which was a pretty novel thing to
do. It’s the only nuclear powered submarine open to the public
today. They decided to bring to back to Groton at the same time the
museum was then going to be enlarged and a new facility was being built. In 1986 we
opened the site which you see today which houses the Submarine Force
Museum and the historic ship Nautilus.
We have become the third largest cultural attraction in this
area after Mystic Seaport and the aquarium.
REVELL CARR (Exec. Dir., Mystic Seaport): Mystic Seaport was founded
in 1929 out of a concern for the loss of ¾
of the history of this river and the shipbuilding activities on it but
it quickly focused much more broadly. The museum is a
sanctuary for endangered buildings and ships of the maritime world.
And in addition to that, the educational programs developed all
following World War II.
Mystic Seaport its an exciting time.
We have a large factory building that is being converted to the
American Maritime Education Research Center.
And, as well, we’re pursuing the idea of the mission of
creating a ¾
a broad public understanding of the relationship of America and the
sea. So we published a book called America and the Sea, and we’re
creating a major exhibition that will convey the America and the sea
JIM STONE (VP
Programs and Exhibitions, Mystic Aquarium): Mystic Aquarium is …the
largest visitor attraction in the state.
800,000 people a year coming here this year to the aquarium and
in the future it will probably be more than that.
aquarium started actually as a brainchild of Calvin Smith and a couple
of other people who invented something called instant ocean. His dream was to build a ¾
a major aquarium and he was inspired to build it here because he
vacationed in the Mystic area and thought it was a beautiful area.
completely renovated our main building, all new exhibits.
We have a new outdoor beluga whale exhibit called The Alaskan
Coast. And there is the Institute for Exploration and the exhibit center called The
Challenge of the Deep.