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September 15, 2022 • 7:00 pm


Journalist and Connecticut River Historian Erik Hesselberg joins Connecticut River Museum Curator Amy Trout for an illuminating conversation on a topic that Mark Twain would have surely enjoyed: steamboats! 

Night Boat to New York: Steamboats on the Connecticut, 1824-1931, is a portrait of the vanished steamboat days–when a procession of stately sidewheelers plied between Hartford and New York City, docking at Peck’s Slip on the East River in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. At one time, Hartford could boast two thousand steamboat arrivals and departures in a year. Altogether, some thirty-five large steamboats were in service on the Connecticut River in these years, largely on the Hartford to New York City route. These Long Island Sound steamers, unlike the tubby, wedding cake dowagers of Western waters, were long, sleek craft, with sharp prows cutting a neat wake as they cruised along. Departing each afternoon from State Street or Talcott Street wharf in Hartford, the “night boats” reached New York at daybreak, inaugurating a pattern of city commuting that continues to this day. Steamboating not only brought people and goods—Colt’s firearms and Essex’s pianos—down river to New York for export to world markets, but also helped America’s inland “Spa Culture” transplant itself to the seashore, making steamboating not just convenient transportation but also a social phenomenon noted by such writers as Charles Dickens and Mark Twain. No wonder crowds wept in the fall of 1931, when the last steamboats, made obsolete by the automobile, churned away from the dock and headed downriver—never to return. 

IN-PERSON event! $5 registration fee. REGISTER HERE. 

Registrants will receive $5 off the cost of NIGHT BOAT TO NEW YORK following the program. There will be an author signing following the program. 



About the Author 

Erik Hesselberg has been writing about the Connecticut River for 20 years, first as an environmental reporter for the Middletown Press, and after as executive editor of Shore Line Newspapers in Guilford, where he oversaw 20 weekly newspapers from Old Lyme to Stratford, CT. He was president of the Middlesex County Historical Society and developed the award-winning exhibit “A Vanished Port,” on the Connecticut River’s ties to the slave economy of the Caribbean islands. His writings have appeared in Wesleyan Magazine, the Hartford Courant, Estuary Magazine, and on his blog, He lives in Haddam, CT. 


About the Moderator 

Amy Trout has served as Curator of the Connecticut River Museum since the fall of 2008. Prior to that, Ms. Trout was the Curator at the New Haven Museum. She has her BA in American Studies from Nazareth College of Rochester, NY and her MA in American Studies and Material Culture from The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.   




Programs at The Mark Twain House & Museum are made possible in part by support from CT Humanities; the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts; Ensworth Charitable Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee; the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s United Arts Campaign; The Hartford; The Mark Twain Foundation; The National Endowment for the Humanities; and Travelers. For more information call 860-247-0998 or visit     


September 15, 2022
7:00 pm
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The Mark Twain House & Museum
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