The nation's oldest continuously operating ferry service crosses the Connecticut River between Rocky Hill and Glastonbury.
The original ferry, which dates back to 1655, was a small raft pushed across the river using long poles. Under State charter, the ferry service was operated by local families throughout most of its existence. The ferry service was such a vital transportation link within the region that crossing would cease only during the most adverse conditions.
When river flood levels escalated, the ferry would use alternate landings such as the old coal dock in South Glastonbury, or the ferry operator would skid the craft across inundated meadows to an old dock near Tryon Street. Today the ferry is temporarily closed if the river reaches flood stage.
At one time, a horse on a treadmill in the center of the craft supplied the power to propel the craft across the river. In 1876, the ferry was "modernized" into a steam driven craft. Today's craft is an open flatboat named the "Hollister III". The three-car barge is towed back and forth by the "Cumberland," a diesel powered towboat. The ferry provides a convenient, direct link between Rocky Hill and Glastonbury at Route 160.
"The Rocky Hill - Glastonbury Ferry is a unique element in the Region's transportation plan....The ferry plays a special role in serving local vehicular traffic between Rocky Hill and Glastonbury, and it plays an important role for bicyclists. Motorists traveling between parts of southern Glastonbury and Rocky Hill can cut nearly 8 miles (one-way) off their trip if they use the ferry. For cyclists, the ferry is even more important since bicycle access to the Putnam Bridge (Route 2) between Wethersfield and northern Glastonbury is not allowed. The ferry is the only crossing for cyclists between Hartford and Middletown. Without the ferry, cyclists face a barrier of over 13 miles with no way to get across....The Council of Governments supports the continued operation of the Rocky Hill - Glastonbury Ferry for the benefits it provides local motorists, cyclists, and tourists and for its value as a historic resource."