Ledyard Center is located at the crossroads of two state highways: routes 117 and 214. It is home to Ledyard Town Hall and is one of the main commercial areas in the town. Every year in September, the fairgrounds host the popular Ledyard Fair, bringing families to the area for the weekend to enjoy carnival rides, entertainment and agricultural competitions.
Gales Ferry is centered around Route 12 and is one of the main commercial corridors in the town. The area is largely residential and contains two national register historic districts, a post office and library, however, offers typical neighborhood commercial services. Each year in June, the Yale-Harvard regatta brings rowing teams and spectators to the riverfront, and life to each school’s boathouse, both of which are located in the village.
“The Act to Incorporate the Town of Ledyard” was adopted by the Connecticut General Assembly and Senate on June 1, 1836. On the 11th, “all legal voters residing within the limits of said town” met to elect officers.
Town Layout & Establishments
The creation of an east-west track from the ferry slip at Gales Ferry and the coming of town government gradually shifted the commercial center from “the crossroads” to the present Ledyard Center, although there were as yet no municipal buildings. Town meetings were held at the church and town records were held and business transacted in the Town Clerk’s home. By 1876, the village included a:
A post office had opened in a local store immediately after the 1836 incorporation, and operated from several locations until it was discontinued in 1903. From then until the 1950s, mail to Ledyard Center was delivered from Norwich.
In 1844, the Norwich and Worcester Railroad extended southward to Allyn’s Point, site of the present Dow Chemical plant. Passenger steamers on the river met trains there, and a post office was established. Mail destined for Gales Ferry Village, on the other hand, came via the New London Northern Railroad to Montville and was brought across on the ferry. Extension of the Norwich and Worcester to Groton in 1899 brought regular transportation to Gales Ferry, 15 trains a day, although the popularity of the automobile resulted in closure of the passenger station by 1927. Today the Providence and Worcester Railroad operates freight service on these tracks.
Intercollegiate Athletic Events
Gales Ferry has long been home to the oldest intercollegiate athletic event in the nation. In 1878, Harvard and Yale Universities brought their established 4-mile rowing competition to the Thames, both crews boarding at local farms. The inaugural race drew 25,000 spectators. By 1925, when crowds reached 100,000, both teams had established permanent camps and boathouses. While interest has abated in recent years and spectator fleets diminished, each June the 2 crews return to the Thames for the annual event and “Boat Race Day” is celebrated in Gales Ferry.