The lower Connecticut River valley is among the most scenic and quiet areas in all of southern New England. It is hard to imagine that this area is actually right in the center of the busy New York to Boston segment of the sprawling Northeast Corridor. Of all the small towns and tiny villages that dot the landscape of this region, one seems to stand out above all the rest – a town located on the Connecticut River full of important landmarks and scenic attractions of all kinds that are bound to leave a memorable impression on travelers alike.
The village of East Haddam was incorporated in 1734 and is home to several historic buildings & structures that have been central to the town’s identity since colonial times. The Gelston House is a historic hotel & restaurant establishment dating as far back as 1853. The House offers an upscale lodging & dining experience for travelers of all kinds and operates year-round. A short distance north of the main village is the Nathan Hale School House, a historic one-room schoolhouse site notable for being a location where Connecticut’s official “state hero” briefly taught in 1773. Hale went on to serve as an American soldier and spy for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He was captured by the British during an intelligence-gathering mission behind enemy lines (while attempting to gather information about British troop movements in the New York City area) and was executed in 1776.
Aside from the Opera House, the most recognizable landmark in the village is the bridge spanning the Connecticut River nearby. The East Haddam Bridge was built in 1913 and is an impressive steel truss swing bridge built in an ornate style that easily blends in with the surrounding natural and man-made landmarks. A link to an additional blog post about this bridge (including other information and photos) will be found at the bottom of this article.
Located on the west bank of the river immediately across the bridge is the historic Goodspeed Train Station, built as a stop on the old Connecticut Valley Railroad. Nowadays, it’s home to an antique/general store and is the starting point for a unique railbike attraction run by the Valley Railroad Company. Steam train and riverboat excursion tours are offered in this area, some of which originate their journey here in East Haddam at the Goodspeed Station and/or at the nearby Eagle Landing State Park; all can often be spotted along the tracks and the nearby Connecticut River during the warm months of the year.