Community Contributions

The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat and Lady Katherine Cruises

Positive contributions to the towns, residents, and businesses of the Connecticut River Valley

The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat (ESTR) and Lady Katherine Cruises (LKC) proudly consider ourselves to be an integral part of the communities through which we operate. To the greatest extent possible we support our local economy by purchasing and hiring locally and greatly contribute to the overall Statewide economy by virtue of the more than 185,000 guests that either visit from out-of-state, or choose to spend their leisure dollars here at home. We’re proud supporters of programs such as the Middlesex Community Foundation, Essex Community Foundation, Essex Parks & Recreation, as well as numerous area schools and civic organizations.

Community Goods and Services:

As often as possible, The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat and Lady Katharine Cruises support our communities and local businesses, and select local vendors for our broad range of purchases and services. The following is a sampling of the businesses that we are proud to work with and support in the area:

  • Happy Acres Honey, Chester
  • Kim Tyler Photography, Chester
  • Adam’s Market Bakery, Deep River
  • Haynes Materials, Deep River
  • Pondside Cabinets, Deep River
  • Deep River Rent-All, Deep River
  • Fred and George’s, Deep River
  • Deep River Hardware, Deep River
  • PermaTreat, Durham (railroad ties)
  • Riverway Studios, East Haddam
  • Shagbark Lumber & Farm Supply, East Haddam
  • Bevin Bell, East Hampton
  • Dreamscapes Design, Essex
  • iCRV Radio, Essex
  • Essex Hardware, Essex
  • Ivoryton Service Center, Essex
  • Scott’s Orchard & Greenhouses, Essex
  • Green Grape Press, Essex
  • Riggio’s Garden Center, Essex
  • Sullivan Paving, Essex
  • A to Z Printing, Essex
  • Burdick Oil, Essex
  • Mail Mart, Essex
  • Bureau’s Kettle Corn, Old Lyme
  • Beard Lumber, Old Saybrook
  • Lighthouse Printing, Old Saybrook
  • Computer Signs, Old Saybrook
  • Wilcox Energy, Westbrook
  • Marsal Studios, Westbrook

Purchases of materials and supplies for trains, vessels, and property are done through Connecticut based suppliers to the greatest extent possible. 60% of our vendors are based in Connecticut, while 26% are vendors local to our railroad from Old Saybrook to Middletown, including adjacent towns of Westbrook, Old Lyme, Hadlyme and East Haddam.


  • An overwhelmingly Connecticut-based workforce currently totaling 419 full and part-time staff (5/2018)
  • 64% of employees (nearly all of the full-time staff) reside in communities through which we operate, or are immediately adjacent.
  • 10-year continued growth in employment amidst statewide employment challenges
  • Growth and expansion with the acquisition of Lady Katherine Cruises, bringing additional tourists to Haddam, Middletown, and Hartford landing sites.
  • Creating a broader scope of tourism opportunities in the Connecticut River Valley.
  • Almost exclusively Connecticut-based employment of musicians and performers for over 50 yearly special events.
  • Quality attractions such as ESTR and LKC keep Connecticut tourism and entertainment dollars in-state while attracting out-of-state consumers who bring money into CT.
  • Each tourism dollar spent at a venue generates an additional $3.00 of State economic activity.
  • We work with other local attractions on market sharing, boots on the ground spending – e.g. – Haddam Swing Bridge Special, Concert Trains, Gillette Castle Connection, event space rental in River Valley Junction, free concerts, etc. These collaborations showcase the region and promote return visits for increased spending and patronage to multiple attractions, hotels, restaurants, shops, and businesses.

State Relationship:

  • State Property Leases with full responsibility for all capital upkeep.
  • All capital improvements become the property of the State of Connecticut.
  • We do not receive any direct funding from the State of Connecticut.

Unlike other State Park properties, The Valley Railroad Company expanded through the Great Recession and has not had services reduced or depleted during State budget cuts. By growing through recessive times, the positive economic impact of ESTR operations has continuously had a positive impact on the local economies.