Passengers from the Past

Time Travel on our Train! 

Join us at Essex Steam Train & Riverboat as we host living history this summer! The platform at Essex Station will serve as both departure point and historical stage every weekend throughout June, where the country’s most renowned character actors will personify some of history’s most iconic & legendary figures, including the Gillettes, Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, & Mark Twain. These special guests will mingle with passengers and family, titillating them with tales from their lives and answering any questions you dare to ask!

Passengers on the 11:00am, 12:30pm, & 2:00pm Steam Train rides will have the opportunity to chat with, and learn from, these historical figures that have been woven into the cloth of Connecticut & American history. Parents and children alike will love being escorted to their train or boat, mingling with living history, and asking questions you’ve always wanted to ask!  Just purchase tickets for any of those three train departures and experience these special guests at no additional charge!

Bump into history at any turn and take learning to a whole new level during our Passengers From the Past Weekends in June!

The special passengers are personified by some of the most renowned historic figure actors in the country. Visitors will get to spend quality time on the steam train and at Essex Station with some of the most interesting people in history.


Twain CameoJUNE 3 & 4:

Mark Twain, one of Connecticut’s most famous residents, will visit the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat to do what he does best – entertain crowds with storytelling and humor. Often called “the father of American literature,” Mark Twain is best known for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. He is also a celebrity humorist and will be sure to share many, many stories with fellow passengers. Always with a smile, always with wit, Mr. Twain makes “Passengers from the Past” experience fun and exciting. A tip for your ride aboard the Becky Thatcher riverboat: be sure to ask Mr. Twain about the Tom Sawyer character the riverboat is named after.

JUNE 10 & 11:

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was an avid supporter of railroads and their importance to the U.S. economy and unification of the country. His actions lead to the Pacific Railroad Bill being passed in Congress, to pave the way for the Transcontinental Railroad. He is remembered as a Civil War President, frontiersman and storyteller. His values – honesty, love of family, thirst for education, sense of justice and perseverance – shine through in a dynamic portrayal. “Honest Abe” will tell his stories from railsplitter to President, sharing authentic historical quotations throughout the day.

Babe Ruth CameoJUNE 17 & 18:

BabeRuth, the American baseball player, played in the major leagues from 1914 through 1935. Nicknamed “The Bambino” and “The Sultan of Swat”, he began his career as a left-handed pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, but achieved his greatest fame as a slugging outfielder for the New York Yankees. The Babe is regarded as one of America’s greatest sports heroes and is considered by many to be the greatest baseball player of all time. Ruth’s legendary power and charismatic personality makes him a larger-than-life figure, tempered by his willingness to do good by visiting children at hospitals and orphanages. He’ll bring many tales of the “Roaring Twenties” and his baseball exploits.

Gillette CameoJUNE 24 & 25:

William Gillette, the American actor and playwright famous for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes, is joined by his wife, Helen, during his weekend visit to the Essex Steam Train & Riverboat. Mr. and Mrs. Gillette are best recognized in the Connecticut River Valley for their expansive home in Hadlyme, known as Gillette Castle. As they join passengers aboard the train and riverboat, Helen shares her fabulous style tips and William shows everyone where his castle sits as the Becky Thatcher riverboat passes by his hilltop estate.

There are no additional fees for the Passengers from the Past experience.