Tauck tours announced Wednesday it would be adding stops at the Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe houses to a high-end tour of New England starting next year. The company made the decision at the urging of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.
During a press conference at the Twain house Burns, who directed and produced a 2001 film about Twain, said a visit to Hartford is essential to experiencing New England. The filmmaker works with the luxury tour company, which has incorporated his name into their “Ken Burns American Journeys” tour line.
“We did have arguments about where to do and what to take place and one of those arguments is that if you’re going to come and do New England, it has to start here, it has to be anchored in Hartford,” Burns said.
Jennifer Tombaugh, Tauck’s president, said that in the company’s 87 years the new “Hidden Gems of New England” tour will be the first time tour guests will be hosted overnight in Connecticut. Though the company is based in Norwalk, Tombaugh said she didn’t realize until working with Burns and his partner Dayton Duncan the historical context of Hartford.
“I think as we scour the globe for great destinations, I think it’s true for all of us, we sometimes forget what’s right in our backyard and it’s been a lovely discovery to be reminded of that,” she said.
Tombaugh said the decision to add Connecticut stops beginning next June also coincided with the launch of the state’s “Still Revolutionary” tourism campaign.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, an avid history buff, seemed pleased to have the focus of the tour dovetail nicely with the tourism campaign, and his interests. He said people often underestimate Connecticut’s impact on U.S. history. The governor rattled off an extensive list of historically significant Connecticut places, residents, and events.
“The ‘Still Revolutionary’ campaign is designed in fact to remind people that revolution is ongoing today,” Malloy said, touting the recent successes of Pratt & Whitney.
Tombaugh said the eight-day tours, which cost around $3,000 for two people, will run from June to October beginning next year. She said most of the tourists are Americans, however they find people from the United Kingdom and Australia are also interested in visiting New England.
In the last few minutes of the press conference, the governor wanted to remind residents about the time Connecticut fell off the map of New England after previous administrations did not pay the state’s dues to an organization that markets the region.
“As a result there are, in certain places, existing maps that show New England without Connecticut. So this is an important development in our recent history. We’re back,” Malloy said.
Then he remembered something he’d forgotten to include in his earlier Connecticut history lesson:
“We were once the leading cheese manufacturer in the United States,” he added. “There.”