Essex Steam Train and River Boat Ride

Just because I’m back home doesn’t mean I’m sitting around resting on my laurels or anything else. No indeed not. It has been a very busy summer so far. I’ve been lamenting that I haven’t once been down to Chatham to chase seals or great white sharks, or to Bristol to check on the Osprey nest. Even my Great Blue Heron at Oliver Mill Park seems to have given upon me. I haven’t seen him at all since the out of control kayaker nearly ran him down.

One of the things I wanted to do this year was check out the Essex Steam Train in Connecticut.  I was waiting for the summer schedule when they had a combination train and riverboat ride. It seemed like the best use of time and money to do both. When I saw the schedule online on my return from my mini vacation I jumped on the chance to go.

The cost was quite reasonable. An adult ticket was only $26.00 for the combo. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I came prepared.  My GPS delivered me right to the  station where signs directed me to the gravel parking area.

I gave myself plenty of time because I wanted to get lunch out-of-the-way and in case I got lost. The Trackside Cafe was open in a vintage railcar.

They had pre made sandwiches in a cooler and hot dogs on a hot dog rotisserie. I opted for the hot dog, a bag of chips and a diet coke. Why is it that hot dogs taste so much better when you’re on an excursion of some kind. Anyway I enjoyed the ambiance of the little railcar while I ate my hot dog then went exploring.

The gift shop was tiny but across the way was a model train museum.

The sign  welcomed me to Little River Junction. It had a wonderful model train that you could play with. It wasn’t just a display behind a glass window. The multiple trains could be run at the same time and the various villages lit with glowing windows and miniature attractions. Really fun.

Outside, as I waited for the train , I met a fellow who was dressed rather outlandishly playing a ukulele.

He said hello so I answered. That broke the ice. He is “Ramblin’ Joe” a sort of street entertainer.

I think when it’s busy his role is to keep the waiting passengers entertained and answer questions for them. He is certainly hard to miss!

The train pulled into the station and the passengers from the earlier trip stepped out. Then the engine was uncoupled, driven back to the front of the train and recoupled to take us out for our ride. That process was pretty interesting and brought out the serious train buffs to photograph the whole process.

My seat was in the open air car. Passengers in this car are warned that this is a real steam engine and cinders and soot may fly into the windows and trust me, it did!

I paid special attention to the route and where the train crossed major roads or streets in case I want to “Chase the train” sometime. That’s how you get the great shots of a steaming locomotive traveling down the tracks. We stopped to let people off for Gillette Castle and another stop at Deep River Landing.

We passed several marshes and conservation areas that looked like interesting places to go bird watching but it was hard to get decent pictures from the moving train.

At the end of the line they did the recoupling again and we started back. I was wondering when and how the River Boat came into the equation when I saw the boat from the train window. Pretty soon we were at Deep River Landing again and they were telling us to get off the train for the Riverboat ride.

We could clearly see the riverbot as she approached the dock but our attention was soon diverted to the process of climbing down from the train.

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