Today is Saturday, August 15, 2020 – The Water Taxi is running.  

Today is Saturday, August 15, 2020 – The Water Taxi is running.  

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Historic Walking Tours Offered in August

New London, CT — The Thames River Heritage Park will offer history-themed walking tours at Fort Trumbull and downtown New London on three August weekends.

The downtown tour covers general history of the city from pre-Colonial days through the 20th century with an emphasis on celebrating the city’s diversity. The Fort Trumbull tour focuses on the fort’s importance during numerous historic eras starting in the Colonial period and also covers the history of the Fort peninsula through the 20th century.

Both 40-minute tours leave from the Thames River Heritage Park’s water taxi docks at the respective sites. The downtown dock is at City Pier and the Fort Trumbull dock is at Pier 7, near the site of the US Coast Guard’s Eagle dock. The Fort Trumbull tours are scheduled at 3 p.m. on Saturdays, Aug. 1 and Aug. 15 and Sunday, Aug. 9. The downtown tours are scheduled at 4:20 p.m. on Saturdays, Aug. 1 and Aug. 15 and Sunday, Aug. 9.

The tours are free to water taxi riders and season pass holders and $5 for others. Tours will be led by Gail B. MacDonald, a New London resident, University of Connecticut journalism professor and author of two local history books. Advanced tickets may be purchased here.

All walkers must wear masks and listening devices will allow for appropriate social distancing. For more information about these tours see our Events Calendar.

2020 TRHP sponsors include: Groton Utilities, Yale New Haven Health/L&M, Atlantic Broadband, The Day, Thames Valley Communications, The Garde Arts Center, Hall Communications and Chelsea Groton Bank.

Free tickets for New London residents

We’re giving away 100 Adult and 100 Children’s water taxi tickets this summer to New London residents thanks to a grant from Veolia Water, NA, the water services company for the city of New London.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Tickets must be picked up at the New London Public Library, 63 Huntington Street.
  • Proof of New London residency is required.
  • Tickets are available for curbside pick.
  • Beginning July 13th they will also be available inside the library.
  • The tickets can be used any time during the season through September 13th, and families may get up to four tickets.

“We are grateful to Veolia for this generous grant. It will allow many people who might not otherwise get a chance to see their hometown from the vantage point of the river do so while enjoying a fun boat ride,” said Amy Perry, executive director.

New walking and boat tours announced

NEW LONDON, Ct. – Suffragettes, Puppeteers, and Patriots: Women of the Thames will be the latest themed tour to be offered by the Thames River Heritage Park, starting 6:30 pm, Thursday, July 2nd. On this 90-minute walking tour led by professor and historian Gail MacDonald, hear the stories of some of the women who have made significant historical and cultural contributions in the Groton-New London area.

“We are excited to present this tour honoring the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage and to highlight the many women who were instrumental in patriotic causes during the American Revolution and War of 1812, female educators who restored the opportunity for women to earn college degrees in the state, a major female philanthropist, and many others, — women in Groton and New London who have stepped up in many ways,” said Amy Perry, the park’s executive director.
The tour is a one mile loop on flat paved surfaces in downtown New London starting and ending at City Pier. Tickets are $15 Adult and $10 children for the walking tour. Additional tour dates, tour details and tickets can be found on the Park’s website. Tickets must be purchase online.

The tour will also be offered as a boat tour starting Friday, July 10th at 6:30. Tickets are $20 Adults and $12 for children.
Submarines, Battlefields and Betrayers: Military Stories on the Thames is returning Sunday, July 5th at 6:15 pm with additional dates scheduled for July and August.

As the name suggests, the 90-minute boat tour will deal with a variety of topics. These range from the role submarines have played here, to the Revolutionary War’s battle of Groton Heights and the general role of the navy and coast guard here. This popular tour sold out every weekend in 2019.

All the boat tours leave from City Pier behind New London’s Union Station. Tour times and days vary. Tickets are $20 for adults, $12 for children 12 and under, and may be obtained here.

The Thames River region is rich in military history, with museums and heritage sites on both the Groton and New London banks that highlight important periods in our nation’s history and the role our ancestors played in it. The Thames River Heritage Park is dedicated to supporting the effort to keep these stories alive.

The water taxis used in the tours are authentic Navy vessels, known as liberty launches that provided ship to shore transportation for sailors when they pulled into a port without docking facilities. Appropriately, one is named Groton, the other New London. They are a central feature of the park’s operation.
“Getting out on the water in our genuine navy utility boat gives riders a different perspective on all the rich history here,” Perry said.

In addition to the themed tours, conducted both on the boats and in walking tours on the land, the Heritage Park offers regular Friday – Sunday round trip hop-on hop-off taxi fares for adults are $10; $5 for children and active duty military (military ID required.) Children three and under ride free. Adult season passes are $50; $30 for children.

The Park adds another boat.

We accepted delivery of our third water taxi, a surplus navy craft yesterday. As the Park continues to grow so too must our fleet. The boat is planned to be in operation in 2021.

Marian Galbraith, president of the park’s board of directors, said the 40 footer, known popularly as a liberty launch, must first be adapted for it new role. She adds, “the Park has seen significant growth in the last couple years. Our ridership went form 6,600 in 2018 to over 11,000 in 2019. This additional boat will allow the Park to build on its record of success and provide additional programming and tours.” However, not unlike the two boats the Park currently operates, this new one will require exhaustive refurbishing to get it operational.

The craft, known formally as a Willard Utility boat, was last assigned to the sub tender USS Canopus (As-34) that was assigned to ports that would be familiar to veteran submariners in our area including Rota and Holy Loch, Spain; and Bremerton, Washington. The Canopus was decommissioned in 1994.

Executive Director Amy Perry says, “the new boat will allow the park to fulfill its mission of promoting and enhancing public access to local museums, parks, and historic sites. And, given that we are home to the Navy’s first nuclear submarine and Sub Base New London, it’s a nice touch that the launch was assigned to a sub tender.”

To get this boat operational as well as convert it into a comfortable riding craft the upgrades and repairs include aft covers for shade, sanding and painting, T-top cover to provide shade for the captain, handrails, life jackets, engine work, stability testing and a host of other repairs. At the appropriate time the Park will launch a fundraising campaign to cover these costs.

Water taxi service and historically themed boat tours offered by the Thames River Heritage Park begin a fifth year of operation on Memorial Day Weekend.

Meeting the boat at Crockers Boatyard are from left TRHP Executive Director Amy Perry, Water Taxi Captain Mark Jalbert, TRHP President, Board of Directors Marian Galbraith, TRHP Board member Bruce MacDonald.
The 508 mile journey from Cheatham Annex, VA comes to and end.

Groton Heights Waterfront Festival

Groton Bank Day, Inc. is a collaborative effort among historic and cultural institutions on Groton Bank to promote its historic and cultural resources. Its most notable collaborative effort is the Groton Heights Waterfront Festival (formerly known as Groton Bank Day). Held in conjunction with Connecticut Open House Day, the Groton Heights Waterfront Festival offers families the opportunity to tour for FREE historic and cultural organizations including the Avery-Copp House, the Monument House Museum, and the Bill Memorial Library. From Fort Griswold, the site of the Battle of Groton Heights in 1781, to the United States Submarine Veterans National Memorial which honors World War II submarine veterans and the more than 3,600 submariners who lost their lives during the conflict, our area is rich in history to be shared. The event hosts historic walking tours and also offers food, entertainment, and a marketplace.

Phone Number: (860) 381-0304
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