A full century ago, in 1883, when Chester Alan Arthur occupied the White House, the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company was born, and one of those responsible was the famous circus producer, Phineas Taylor Barnum, then in his seventies. This was not really as unusual as it sounds, for P.T. Barnum was a resident of Bridgeport, CT, and the idea of establishing the organization was presumably the idea of his old friend, Captain Charles E. Tooker, a deep-water sailor who lived directly across the Long Island Sound in Port Jefferson, New York, on Long Island. In all, there were twenty-seven stockholders who signed the Articles of Association, and they elected Barnum as the first president. Captain Tooker, with his brother-in-law, Edward Davis, owned the controlling interest in the new corporation.
In 1883, steamboating was thriving. On Long Island Sound, there was a great fleet of vessels connecting New York with ports in New England, plus many more employed on shorter runs. Steam navigation had come to the Sound in 1815 when the FULTON was placed in service between New York and New Haven. Robert Fulton, for whom she was named, had successfully introduced steam navigation to the Hudson River in 1807 and died only a few weeks before the FULTON made her epoch trip across the waters of Long Island Sound.
The prime reason for the establishment of the Bridgeport & Port Jefferson Steamboat Company was to link the agriculture of Long Island and industrial New England. As 129 years shows, the exact reason may not be the same but the need has never left. Please come and join us for a ride across the sound that was started by an old Port Jefferson family, the Tookers with the help of one of the most famous promoters of all time, P.T. Barnum. Book your reservation today.