Category Archives: Transportation

Feel the Wind in Your Sails From Historic New London

Mystic Whaler

The Mystic Whaler provides Tall Ship Adventures to the public from the same historic waterfront in New London that once was the 19th century home of our country’s second largest whaling fleet.

The whalers are long gone, of course, and the port of New London is used by more modern means of waterborne conveyance, but the Mystic Whaler keeps alive the memory of that earlier era and offers the public a chance to experience the exhilaration of moving through the water under sail.

The Mystic Whaler launched its maritime career in 1967 as a reproduction of a late 19th century coastal cargo schooner, the workhorse of a class of vessels that helped fuel our nation’s economy in the days before railroads and superhighways. They were extensively used in New England, the Chesapeake and Great Lakes regions.

The meaning of the word “schooner” could stem from the Dutch, or an interpretation of scoon, a Scots word that roughly translates to “skipping along the water”.  It may, or may not, have been shouted out by someone at a 1700’s launching in Gloucester, Mass. As the story goes, the word was uttered in amazement within earshot of the shipyard owner who promptly dubbed the new class of vessels schooners. True?  Who knows, but it makes for good topic to debate over a pint of Grog after the last sail has been furled.

Whatever, the origins of the name, the craft that became known as schooners quickly came to serve a number of purposes, fishing, cargo-hauling and privateering and blockade running during the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

Today, like the Mystic Whaler, they are mostly used, to carry passengers on leisure cruises, and by groups dedicated to protecting our marine environment and as educational platforms, teaching young people about our state and nation’s proud maritime traditions.

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Mystic Whaler  


35 Water St, New London, CT 06320
(860) 447-1249

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The Trolley Cars of Years Past Still Rolling Along

Connecticut Co streetcar   Trolley Company Map  RI Trolley

Visiting the Shore Line Trolley Museum in East Haven can be a moving experience. Literally.  Visitors can see the oldest continuously operating surban trolley line in the United States and can ride the rails. On special occasions they can actually take the controls.  Under supervision, of course.

In addition to a ride over the 1.5 mile (2.4K) track, visitors can tour the museum’s historic trolley collection and look over exhibits in the visitors’ center

The trolley era, in the days before automobiles too over our transportation needs is remembered through the museum’s collection of 100 or so vintage transit vehicles of differing types. Museum achieves contain nearly 51,000 photographs and more than 4,000 books, documents and artifacts that include tokens and badges, plus other memorabilia of that bygone era.

(Look on Mr. Clemens’ Facebook page and see a pair of dime-size tokens used in New Haven 70-80 years ago. )

The museum encompasses the Branford Electric Railway Historic District, which was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 1983.

It’s a rare opportunity to look at how people got around before the automobile era that changed everything.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Shore Line Trolley Museum (opened seasonally)

www.shorelinetrolley.org

 17 River Street

East Haven, CT 06512

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Soar into History at the New England Air Museum

NE Air Museum B 29

Colorful examples of aviation history, from practically the dawn of powered flight into the jet age, can be found at the New England Air Museum.

Some familiar names and sights are featured among the 70 aircraft on display. These include a restored B-29 Superfortress of the type that carried the air war to Japan in WW-II, and the sleek P51 Mustang fighter of that era. Plus a large selection of private and commercial planes.

They are joined by lesser known, but equally important reminders of the development of aviation, including the XI built in 1911, the same year another XI became the first airplane used in war, and two years after Louis Bleriot used still another XI to become the first to fly across the England Channel.

The collection includes the last remaining four-engine flying boat, a Sikorsky VS-44A, donated by its previous owner, the actress Maureen O’Hara and restored here. And something else that is unusual, a reminder of aviation, circa 1870, the Silas Brooks Balloon Basket believed to be the oldest surviving aircraft in the United States

But those are far from the only attractions at this monument to aviation history located adjacent to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.

There are flight simulators, opportunities to climb into open cockpits and engage in other aviation-related activities and exhibits.

These include two special displays, one heralding the famed 58 Bomb Wing, the centerpiece of which is the “Jack’s Hack,” the restored B-29 and another display that focuses on the Lafayette Escadrille, a volunteer group of American  flyers that produced the first American air ace of WW-I.—a man who called Connecticut home.

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New England Air Museum                                                                           www.neam.org

36 Perimeter Road
Windsor Locks, CT  06096
(860) 623-3305

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