Press Release

Passengers from the Past – Time Travel on our Train

Posted on April 28, 2016

“Babe” Ruth, Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and the Gillettes
among the characters that will make history come alive each weekend in June.

(ESSEX, CT) April 18, 2016 — The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat is excited to welcome back both new and returning “Passengers from the Past” this June.

Our special passengers, personified by some of the most renowned historic figure actors in the country, will be riding alongside train and boat passengers, bringing them back to the historical time period during the following weekends:

  • Saturday, June 4 – Sunday, June 5: Mark Twain
  • Saturday, June 11: CT Open House Day
  • Sunday, June 12: 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln
  • Saturday, June 18: Sunday, June 19: George Herman “Babe” Ruth, Jr.
  • Saturday, June 25 – Sunday, June 26: William and Helen Gillette

The “Passengers from the Past” theme was created by the Essex Steam Train as a fun, interactive way to inform guests of important history that took place in the local region, at no extra cost to passengers.

Returning characters Mark Twain and The Gillettes were both famous Connecticut residents — Twain best known for his novels The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and actor and playwright William Gillette known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes.

As actors Harold (William Gillette) and Theodora Niver (Helen Gillette) 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. The Gillette’s guests would take the train to Hadlyme station when paying him a visit. William Gillette also had his own miniature railroad on the property. Today, the Valley Railroad has a “Gillette Connection,” that allows guests the opportunity to hike over to the Castle.

Mark Twain was a frequent rider on the original Valley Railroad in the 1870s, traveling to “New Saybrook” (Fenwick) to stay at the railroad-owned Fenwick Hall. Here he did a good amount of his writing in the summer. Be sure to ask Mr. Twain (portrayed by John Pogson) about the Tom Sawyer character the riverboat is named for.

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 by actor Lou Del Bianco. “Honest Abe” will tell his stories from rail-splitter to President, sharing authentic historical quotations throughout the day.

“Babe” Ruth, an American baseball player nicknamed “The Bambino,” 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. Babe Ruth impersonator, Steve Folven, will bring his tales of the “Roaring Twenties” and Babe’s baseball exploits, while sporting a NY Yankees jersey. All aboard! Babe will have many stories to share, as he reflects on the days when baseball teams traveled by railroad to away games.

There is no additional cost for these special “Passengers from the Past” weekends. Tickets can be purchased online or at the ticket booth the day of the trip.
For more information and to book your trip click here!