By JIM WELCH
Hear the click-clack of the steam train and churn of the river boat in Essex. The Essex Steam Train is a coal-fired locomotive. It pulls restored railroad cars through the woods of the Connecticut River Valley as it chugs past the river. Visitors can then take a riverboat tour back up the Connecticut River past the Goodspeed Opera House and Gillette Castle.
From the time the train conductor yells "all aboard" in Essex, rail travelers will be carried through Deep River and Chester, past farmland, creeks and meadows and into Selden Neck State Park, accessible only by boat. The 12-mile round trip takes about an hour, with the train reaching a top speed of 20 mph.
Those taking the riverboat disembark in Deep River to board the Becky Thatcher. The Becky Thatcher is a 1870 Mississippi-style riverboat built in 1961 featuring three decks. The ride from Deep River to East Haddam, and back, takes about three hours. Then it's back on the steam train for a trip back to Essex station.