Thames River (Connecticut)

The Thames River (/ˈθeɪmz/)[1] is a short river and tidal estuary in the state of Connecticut. It flows south for 15 miles (24 km)[2] through eastern Connecticut from the junction of the Yantic River and Shetucket River at Norwich, Connecticut, to New London and Groton, Connecticut which flank its mouth at Long Island Sound. The Thames River watershed includes a number of smaller basins and the 80-mile-long Quinebaug River, which rises in southern Massachusetts and joins the Shetucket River about four miles northeast of Norwich.[3][4]

Thames River
Thames River (Connecticut)
Sailboat at the Thames River, seen from the waterfront in New London, Connecticut
CountryUnited States
CountyNew London
Physical characteristics
SourceThe Yantic and Shetucket rivers merging
 - locationNorwich
 - coordinates41°31′18″N 72°04′43″W / 41.5216°N 72.0787°W
River mouthLong Island Sound
 - locationNew London and Groton
 - coordinates41°18′45″N 72°04′49″W / 41.3125°N 72.0804°WCoordinates: 41°18′45″N 72°04′49″W / 41.3125°N 72.0804°W
Length15 miles (24 km)
 - minimum377 feet (115 m)
 - maximum4,348 feet (1,325 m)


Sleighing on the frozen river, winter of 1903–1904

The river has provided important harbors since the mid-17th century. It was originally known as the Pequot River after the Pequot Indians who dominated the area. Other early names for the river have included Frisius, Great, Great River of Pequot, Little Fresh, Mohegan, New London, and Pequod. The town was officially named New London in 1658 and the estuary river was renamed Thames after the River Thames in London, England.[5]

The United States Coast Guard Academy, Connecticut College, a U.S. Navy submarine base, and the Electric Boat submarine shipyard are located on the river at New London and Groton. The USS Nautilus (SSN-571) was launched into the river on January 21, 1954 from Electric Boat, becoming the world's first nuclear-powered submarine.[6]

Two historic forts overlook the mouth of the river at New London harbor, now Connecticut State Parks: Fort Griswold on the eastern Groton Heights, and Fort Trumbull on the New London side.


The Yale-Harvard Boat Race is held annually in New London.

New London's Sailfest is an annual event which includes OpSail, a gathering of large sailing vessels, including the U.S. Coast Guard training ship Eagle.


Town Name Carrying


Mohegan-Pequot Bridge Connecticut Highway 2A.svg Route 2A
New London/


Gold Star Memorial Bridge I-95.svg I-95 and

US 1 (1961).svg US 1

Thames River Bridge Amtrak logo 2.svg Amtrak

See also


  1. ^ "How New London, Connecticut, Got Its Name". The New London Gazette. The Oldham Publishing Service. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2015-06-17.
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed April 1, 2011
  3. ^ Eastern Connecticut Conservation District.[1] accessed June 24, 2112
  4. ^ "GNIS Detail - Thames River". Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  5. ^ "How New London, Connecticut, Got Its Name". The New London Gazette. The Oldham Publishing Service. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2015-06-17.
  6. ^ BBC News: "USS Nautilus: A record-breaking sub" Accessed 2014_01_21

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