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Old Railroads of Connecticut


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Old Railroads of Connecticut

Old Railroads of Connecticut
Welcome to our Old Railroads of Connecticut WebSite

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Sample Our feature article: "Old Railroads in Connecticut"

Follow Connecticut Railroads on Google Earth .

Read about the Canal Line through New Haven , Anaconda in the Naugatuck Valley , New Haven freight symbols , the Sterling Single and a Milford commuter's idea .

You will enjoy articles about Jim Bradley' railroad cars , railroads to Winsted Connecticut , the Armory Branch between East Hartford and Springfield via East Windsor.

We have a great section on key dates in Connecticut railroad history and a story with pictures of New Haven railroad bridges along the Shore Line .

You can find out about the Highland Line between Hartford and Waterbury as well as see many New Haven railroad pictures .

We discuss freight along the New Haven Railroad as well as the demise of freight business on the New Haven .

Don't miss our reference section .

George McCormick Falls From Train, Fatally Crushed (1929) .

See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History

Key Dates in Connecticut Railroad History

1832 : First Connecticut railroad incorporated as the Boston, Norwich and New London

1835 : BOSTON & PROVIDENCE RAILROAD opened, Readville to Dedham

1838 : Railroad completed between New Haven and Hartford

1840 : HOUSATONIC RAILROAD opened from Bridgeport to New Milford.

1843 : NORWICH & WORCESTER RAILROAD, opened Norwich to Allyn’s Point

1848 : Cape Cod Branch Railroad opened, Middleborough to Wareham, MA.

1872 : The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad was formed

1902 : MANUFACTURERS RAILROAD COMPANY extended through Ferry Street across Quinnipiac River and along east shore to plant of National Wire Corporation.

1903 : J.P. Morgan gained control of the New Haven

1904 : Control the Central New England Railway is secured through the purchase of a controling interest of it's stock for $5 million.

1929 : New Haven's New England Transportation Company begins truck service.

1935 : First bankruptcy of the New Haven Railroad

1940 : Quonset Pt. Naval Air Base at North Kingston, RI sidetrack connection from railroad’s main line at Davisville, RI

1956 : George Alpert, prominent Boston lawyer and a founder of Brandeis University, where he served as its first chairman from 1946 to 1954, is elected as the 20th President of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, replacing the controversial and flamboyant Patrick B. McGinnis, who immediately moved on to become President of the Boston & Maine Railroad.

1961 : Second bankruptcy of the New Haven Railroad

1969 : New Haven Railroad merged into Penn Central

See random dates in railroad history .
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Old Railroads in Connecticut

The Central New England Railway actually ceased passenger service in December 1927 when a train went from Millerton, NY to Plainville, CT and returned. Normally a Mack railbus, this last run was a steam locomotive with one coach. Last through freight was January 1919 between Hartford and Maybrook. Until 1926, freight operated from Maybrook to Winsted every other day. After the end of passengers, there was no freight service east of Norfolk to Pine Meadow. Canaan to Norfolk service was sporadic from 1927 until 1938 when the tracks came up (except for a portion to East Canaan still served by the Housatonic). The Winsted area was served by Naugatuck freights into the 1960's except where there was damage remaining from the 1955 hurricane.

The old New York & New England (NY&NE) ex-New Haven between Hawleyville, CT and Waterbury was still in service near Southbury until 1947. The Shepaug line from Hawleyville to Litchfield was also still in service then.

The Housatonic is operating about once a month west of Danbury on the former Maybrook line (now going to Beacon). They serve IBM and Texaco but would like to give up this line. Metro North is rumored to be interested and might handle the little freight that remains.

The old New Haven Naugatuck line (now Guilford) from Waterbury to Torrington now appears to be back in use after a long, hard winter.

One remaining section of the Central New England is the Griffin Line leading north from Hartford. The State of Connecticut and city officials in Hartford and Bloomfield have been looking seriously at a mass transit link between downtown Hartford and Bradley International Airport. Soon, they are going to have to put their money where their mouths are. Detailed engineering plans, environmental assessments, and local recommendations are coming together and a light-rail system is a distinct possibility.

While federal commitment to mass transit is growing, new allocations mean Connecticut will get less money. On the state side, highway and bridge projects are competing for funds.

Estimated cost from Hartford to Griffin Center (Bloomfield/Windsor border) is $173 million. The section from there to the airport is $115 million but will require Windsor voters reversing their earlier decision against the project.

An economic impact study sees between 278 and 550 new jobs a year from this line. Hartford would concentrate on revitalizing old factories near the line and sees benefits from serving a hospital and community college on the line. Bloomfield sees benefits to shopping centers and the New England Trade Port. Bradley Airport is growing and currently difficult to reach by Hartford city residents with no automobile.

The Griffin Line will allow commuting in both directions. Ridership could approach 15,000 per day. The Clean Air Act puts limits on parking subsidies in the downtown area. In addition, imagine the ridership if Hartford gets a football stadium or a Triple A baseball field.

The basis of the New Haven at its greatest extent was:
· The New York & New Haven
· The Old Colony
· The New York & New England (NY&NE)
· The England (CNE)

The New York & New England once stretched from Boston and Providence through Hartford to the Hudson River. Begun in 1833 when the Manchester RR was chartered to build east from Hartford to Manchester (a mill town near Hartford), and on to Bolton. It didn't get built until some Rhode Island people put in money. It was eventually built to Fishkill Landing (Beacon) and opened in 1855 as far as Waterbury as the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill. It became part of the Boston, Hartford & Erie, which emerged from 1870 bankruptcy as the NY&NE. Then it stretched from Boston to the Hudson River. The New Haven viewed it as a threat and acquired its friendly connections such as the Housatonic. The NH even convinced the New York Central to take over the New York & Northern (basis for Putnam Division). In 1893, the NY&NE entered bankruptcy and was acquired by the New Haven in 1898.

Of particular interest to me was the New Haven's 4.42 mile line from Vernon to Rockville. At Westway, 1.16 miles from Rockville, another branch went 3.70 miles to Ellington.

From the east, Vernon was on the line from Putnam. Distances were as follows:
· Putnam to Willimantic 24.85 miles
· Willimantic to Andover 8.69 miles
· Andover to Steeles 4.34 miles
· Steeles to Bolton 1.58 miles
· Bolton to Vernon (mm 43.81) 4.35 miles
After Vernon, mileage westbound was as follows:
· Vernon to Manchester 3.49 miles (1.90 mile branch to South Manchester)
· Manchester to Buckland 1.29 miles
· Buckland to Burnside 3.33 miles
· Burnside to East Hartford (SS217) 1.29 miles
· East Hartford to SS214 (2.27 miles)
· SS214 to Hartford 0.62 miles
After the Midland bridge over the Q. River at Putnam was severely damaged in 1955, it was repaired. The through route from Hartford to Boston had declined tremendously in the early '50s. Through symbol freights AB-2/BA-1 were discontinued in 1953. The two passenger round trips per day were classic one-car "plug runs" that hung on probably because they were an RPO route. All this suggests that the New Haven management welcomed the chance to eliminate the route "automatically" because a blow from nature had conveniently done it for them! Recall that in those days a route elimination required cumbersome filings with the ICC, presenting a business case, holding hearings, etc.

The Central New England was formed in early 1899 as a successor to the bankrupt Philadelphia, Reading England RR. The CNE's first Employees Timetable (#1) became effective on Sunday, May 28, 1899. At that time the CNE ran one through freight in each direction between Hartford and Maybrook via Canaan, CT. In addition, they also operated two other through freights; one between Hartford and Canaan and another between Canaan and Maybrook. The through Hartford - Maybrook westbound that left it's point of origin at 10:20am getting to Maybrook at 9:51pm. Stops were made in Simsbury, East Winsted, Canaan and Poughkeepsie for drops and pickups. It's eastbound counterpart left Maybrook at 3:00pm stopping at Poughkeepsie and Canaan with arrival in Hartford at 2:45am. The shorter haul trains between Hartford and Canaan and between Canaan and Maybrook did more of the local work. At this period in the CNE's life, all of these trains operated except Sundays. With the exception of minor schedule changes and even some train number changes, things stayed about the same until 1906. By then one through freight still operated between Hartford and Maybrook plus two others; one between Hartford and Millerton and the other between Millerton and Maybrook By 1908 only one through freight remained. Everything else was apparently local service. Both of these trains operated on an overnight basis. This stayed pretty much the same through World War I but then the service between Hartford and Maybrook VIA CANAAN ended abruptly. In 1924 an experiment was made running a freight between Maybrook and Pittsfield via Canaan (OQ2 and QO1). In 1925 the run seems to have been cut back to just serving between Maybrook and Canaan. The next freight train schedule dated in mid-1927 does not show them listed.

The New Haven & Derby Railroad was completed in 1871 and abandoned in 1938. The NH&D right-of-way is visible in certain places. I've managed to trace out most of it. Now there seems to be more interest in it so I have found some new information. Starting at New Haven, the ROW crossed the West River in back of the garbage mound on a raised embankment - still visible. There is a more or less parallel road heading east from Campbell Ave in West Haven. The ROW heads directly for the VA Hospital where is goes upgrade just to the north of the parallel entrance road. After the VA, it crosses under Rt. 1 (underpass still visible) to the north side. At this point it gets complicated since the streets in that area are very random. Going west - the road enters the Tyler City portion of Orange where the ROW parallels a street. The ROW then skirts a golf course with the tree line and embankment visible. Crossing Rt. 114, the ROW goes to the south of the Greek Orthodox church. The back streets to the west have obliterated the ROW. In that area, the ROW turns to the north & runs up a small valley to Orange Center where is turns due west. At Orange Center the ROW crosses the main north-south route through town with the ROW embankment visible quite well. Near the crossing, someone mounted a set of crossbucks just off of the road. The ROW goes west, crossing some farmland & going into a housing development (built in the late '50s). Just north of the Merrit Parkway rest area (Milford) on the west side, the old abutment is still there. Turkey Hill road in Orange crosses the ROW in a couple of spots but there is not much to see. After that, the high point is on the Milford-Derby Road. The ROW crosses it on the uphill side and is visible on the west side of the road. The road drops down the hill and makes a curve around the abutment of a bridge over the road/stream. The ROW is on the east side as the road goes up and the ROW descends. After passing a house just next to the ROW, the ROW crosses Milford-Derby Road and heads towards the old Naugatuck RR joining it (in later years) at the old Turkey Brook yard. The NH&D continued to Ansonia where it met the Naugatuck. The NH&D ran on the east side of the Naugatuck River. The old ROW is in one place a street along the river directly below Division St in Derby (and Ansonia). North of there, the Naugatuck River levee has obliterated any trace of the NH&D.

Now that the Housatonic RR is running, let's see what the New Haven once provided over this same stretch of track. In the 1912 freight schedule there was a train between Bridgeport (on Long Island Sound) and State Line (on the Mass. Turnpike). This train operated over the original Housatonic Route between Hawleyville and Brookfield Jct. and did not have to go in to Danbury as was done in later years. In addition there were four trains that operated in and out of Harlem River to and from Pittsfield with two going through to and returning from North Adams. Over the years this schedule saw many cutbacks. The Berkshire trains to and from Bridgeport did not always use the line from Botsford through Stepney & Trumbull to Bridgeport. In the past few years the former Housatonic RR track was removed from the (former) Bridgeport station to just south of Boston Ave, but the Parkway bridge remains. As far back as 1921 service in and out of Bridgeport serving the Berkshire Line went via Derby Jct. This was an interesting issue back in the 1930s when the State was planning and constructing the Parkway. Apparently the NYNH&H had pretty much ceased active service on that segment of the ex-Housatonic line when Parkway plans were being drafted. Knowing this, and figuring that the NYNH&H would probably abandon the line, the State's original plans specified that there would be NO overpass built. Apparently the NYNH&H did not agree with this decision, and they battled for the State to build the overpass, and they won out. From what I've read, the resulting overpass, which was a costly item for the State to add to the Parkway plan, never once carried a revenue train, as indeed the NYNH&H never did resume operations on that segment! I don't know if any trackage was ever placed on its deck, but if there was it was apparently never utilized by anything more than RR construction or MOW equipment. Up through the early 1970s, this heavy-duty bridge served as a narrow, one-lane overpass for lightly used Rocky Hill Rd, off White Plains Rd. In the late 70s/early 80s when the State built the massive interchange between the Merrit Parkway and the new CT 25 expressway in this area, Rocky Hill Road was completely severed (actually, whatever it once led to was completely wiped out by the sprawling interchange). However the overpass itself remains to this day, although it is completely cut off from any vehicular/foot access as it is now an "island" in the midst of the new interchange. It serves no functional purpose whatsoever now yet it is still marked by signs indicating "Rocky Hill Rd". It is interesting that it was not demolished during the CT 25 expressway construction. Perhaps its unique architecture contributed to its preservation! (All Merrit Parkway original over/underpasses were unique designs, and this would have been one of them). As of the Arranged Freight Train Schedule of 1929: two Berkshire trains originated in and terminated in Bridgeport, running via Derby Junction/Shelton. There was a third round trip originating in Bridgeport, classified as an "extra", which served Trumbull, Newton, and Hawleyville on its way to Danbury and return. It was also listed as handling cars, including milk, to and from the Litchfield Branch and "American Railway Express".

Customers on today's Housatonic include: · Kimberly Clark in New Milford.
· Housatonic has a lumber transloading facility in Newtown of rt. 25 (former Lloyds Lumber).
· Stevenson Lumber of Rt. 34 in Stevenson.
· Union Camp in Newtown (cardboard box outfit). Union Camp left Newtown in 1998. Rand-Whitney bought the UC plant and still takes incoming rail shipments (to make cardboard containers like UC did). Can watch this spur being switched from the old Newtown Depot off Church Hill Rd.
· Quality Food Oils in New Milford: spur within yard limits about 300 yards south of Kimberly Clark spur.
· Georgia Pacific distribution center in Newtown: Spur off Botsford siding. Off Rte 25 3-4 miles S of flagpole; Ethan Allen Rd bridge over Maybrook main and siding offers excellent views of NX-11 switching action.
· Pharmco in Brookfield: Spur off Stearns siding. Off Vale Rd, across Berk main from Golf Quest.
· Banta Direct Marketing in Mill Plain (Danbury): Spur off Maybook main underneath Rte 6/202 bridge; very little traffic.

In today's times, the CENTRAL NEW ENGLAND RR is owned/operated by A.J. Belliveau RR Construction (Newington, CT). There are now two separate branchlines operated. The first is between East Windsor and Scantic, CT. Stationed on the line are RS1 0670 (ex-CCR 0670, G&W, NH), 25T 0825 (in NH orange/green) and RS1 30. All three are operable. The 30, which was previously was thought to be a parts source, has been rehabbed by using various components of ex-M&E RS1 15. CNZR GP9 905 (ex-MBTA, SEMTA, PC, NH) is stored out of service in Hartford. The other branch CNZR operates is the old Griffiths Branch between Hartford and Bloomfield/Windsor. Long out of service, the state and CNZR got Home Depot to locate a huge distribution warehouse near end of track. Based on this line is CNZR 1922 (Ex-MBTA, BN, NP, still in T paint).

Also alive is the CONNECTICUT SOUTHERN (RAILTEX): Based in East Hartford, only one of the ex-CR B23-7's has been lettered ...(2010) and, at that, very crudely. B23-7 2008 appeared to be out of service. All the other B23-7's retain full CR lettering. Also stored at East Hartford are US Army GP10's 4601, 4602. Here's the frame numbers: 4601 - 5553-44; 4602 - 5651-4.

By Ken Kinlock at
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A half-century ago, everything in Connecticut was under the New Haven Railroad. Today is a lot different, Amtrak, Metro-North., several freight-only railroads and even some abandoned lines that could be re-started.. Check out the best available map of all these with the Connecticut CDOT rail map.

Demise of Freight Business on the New Haven

The New Haven Railroad sponsored a series of advertisements that were run in a variety of national magazines, Fortune was one of them but there were others, around 1945/1946. These advertisements were targeted towards companies looking to expand inside New England. Each advertisement presented a different section of the map of New England, for example eastern Massachusetts and the tag-line "Good Companies Settle in Our Territory" or something like that. On each map was placed the logos of major corporations operating in that location. These advertisements are interesting in large part because virtually none of the companies presented, and there were a lot of them, remain in business in New England today.

During the forties and early fifties, seven per cent of industry in Ct. was tied to the war effort. After the war Winchesters, Remington Arms, Marlins and their outside suppliers started the drain on the economy of Ct. and the Nw Haven as they cut back on their productivity.

Companies going out of business occurred all over the NH's rail area, dooming the freight business that was around during the war years and a little after. Businesses going overseas didn't help either.

The American Brass Company plant in Torrington was preparing to start aluminum production just before the flood of 1955. But the flood destroyed the new furnaces. When American Brass began to recover from the flood, it decided not to rebuild the aluminum production section of the plant. Aluminum production apparently used a lot of electricity and the cost of electricity in Connecticut had risen so high it made the operation unprofitable.

The New Haven Railroad lost a large source of freight when the brass industry closed up in the Naugatuck Valley. This was not due to taxes or labor costs. It was failure to innovate. The brass industry lost a lot of their market when plastics replaced the brass during the 1960's. The brass companies refused to switch over to plastic production and went under.

I heard a story that an engineer who did a presentation on injection plastics in front of Chase Brass Company upper management in Waterbury, CT during the late 1960's. When he told the execs that brass would soon be replaced by plastic the execs laughed at him and threw him out of the office. Within ten years Chase was no more.

The 1955 flood also devastated the New Haven, and industry in the valley. Many factories never recovered.

Look at Bridgeport and the loss of the heavy machine industry; Bridgeport and Bullard milling machines and the gun industry. In Danbury there was Eagle pencil and Pitney Bowes postal machines. The cotton mill industry in Fall River. The hatting industry in Danbury. Manufacturing of many things in the US has died over decades as companies search for cheaper labor --- first in the South and now offshore.

The old New Haven to Northhampton line was started in 1846, when the New Haven & Northampton Canal Co. was authorized to build a railroad to replace the canal.

In 1848, the NH&N was leased to the NY&NH (before the NY&NH bought the NH&H to create the NY,NH & H0) who operated it until 1869, then the NH&N ran it until 1887, when the NH bought it, they ran passenger trains until 1929, but until 1969, when the PC got it it was mostly intact (The New Hartford to Collinsville branch was abandoned in 1958, the Shelburne Junction to South Deerfield was gone by 1923, and the rest of the line -South Deerfield toNorthampton - in 1943 and the Willamsburg to Florence in 1962 was abandoned, but the main line was in use). In 1969 PC abandoned the Collinsville to Farmington branch, along with the Florence - Easthampton branch and the main line from Easthampton to Northampton. In 1976, the USRA took out the middle section from Simsbury to Westfield saying it wasn't needed, the state of Connecticut subsidized the operations from Avon to Simsbury (there was a few customers in Simsbury). In 1981, Connecticut stopped subsidizing freight operations from Avon north to Simsbury, then the B&M (who in my opinion should not RUN a model train layout, let alone a real railroad, acquired the New Haven to Avon line - with the Westfield to Easthampton line taken over by Pioneer Valley. In 1987 New Haven to Cheshire was abandoned (low clearences , so modern boxcars couldn't go under them), then in 1991 B&M got rid of the Plainville to Avon track. In 1996, B&M got rid of Cheshire to Southington line - and the rest of the line is mostly out of service. Most of the line is now trails. Plainville is the hub of the PAR (nee B&M) operations in Connecticut.
Canal Line Southern end

Canal Line Southern end in the 1980's. Between Cheshire and Hamden.

Shepaug Headers
New Haven Railroad – Freight Symbols

EW-East Walpole
F-Fall River
G-Bay Ridge
H-Harlem River or Oak Point
I-State Line
K-Brockton or S. Braintree
M-New London
N-New Haven or Cedar Hill
U-New Bedford
WH-Woods Hole

The Sterling Single

I'm not into models like many of you are but the "Stirling Single" is not just any model. It has chugged along the track only twice in the last 50 years. When I heard of an opportunity to see it, I gladly drove twenty miles on my lunch hour. Professor Jack Cunningham of Yale University was the first person to set the four-foot-long model train into motion after it had been idle for nearly half a century. He was the first to run the train on steam power in almost 100 years.

In 1981 he rescued the Stirling Single from a laboratory display case and began its restoration. The scale model is a replica of an actual hauling locomotive that had a large single pair of driving wheels. It was designed in 1870 for Great Northern Railway by Scotsman Patrick Stirling, for whom it is named. The scale model was built by Charles Palmer of Albany who left it, another engine, and a model naval cruiser to Yale's Sheffield Scientific School in 1909.Cunningham's biggest problem was making the tiny oil burner and boiler operate as the builder intended. Assisted by two graduate students, Cunningham experimented with replacing something Palmer called "patent fuel" to get the burner to spray oil into the boiler which heated the water and made steam. He successfully substituted Sterno!

By Ken Kinlock at
George McCormick Falls From Train, Fatally Crushed (1929)
We always think of railroad accidents as several people killed and maybe a hundred injured; but just one person killed is just as tragic to a family
Funeral services for George McCormick, 27, employed at the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad , Montowese Division, who died in Grace Hospital shortly after 7:30 P.M , Wednesday night following an accident which occurred in the Cedar Hill yards will be held from the parlors of Beecher, Bennett & Lincoln 100 Broadway, tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 P.M Grace Hospital early Wednesday morning following an accident which occurred while he was riding in a train in the Cedar Hill yards. While attempting to alight from the moving train he slipped and fell beneath the wheels of the train. His right leg was severed at the knee while his left leg was badly crushed.

The deceased is survived by his widow and three children.

Written by unknown, posted in the New Haven Register May 31st 1929.

McCormick-In this city, May 29, 1929, George W McCormick, of 29 Ann St. aged 27 years. Funeral services will be held in the parlor of Beecher, Bennett & Lincoln, 100 Broadway, Saturday afternoon June 1st, at 2:30 o'clock (D.S.T) Friends are invited to attend.
Written by Unknown. Posted in the New Haven Register May 31st, 1929.

George is buried in New Haven, at the Evergreen Cemetery. His granddaughter, Tuesday Porter was recently there,and placed two flags in honor of his Service in the Navy as a First class seaman.
George McCormick Falls From Train, Fatally Crushed (1929)
George McCormick Falls From Train, Fatally Crushed (1929) George McCormick Falls From Train, Fatally Crushed (1929)
milk train
Once upon a time, milk trains were important
New York Central Milk Business
Creamery in South Columbia, New York
There were two basic types of milk trains – the very slow all-stops local that picked up milk cans from rural platforms and delivered them to a local creamery, and those that moved consolidated carloads from these creameries to big city bottling plants. Individual cars sometimes moved on lesser trains. These were dedicated trains of purpose-built cars carrying milk. Early on, all milk was shipped in cans, which lead to specialized "can cars" with larger side doors to facilitate loading and unloading (some roads just used baggage cars). In later years, bulk carriers with glass-lined tanks were used. Speed was the key to preventing spoilage, so milk cars were set up for high speed service, featuring the same types of trucks, brakes, communication & steam lines as found on passenger cars.
Green Island Bridge
Click above to read a story about a Milford commuter's idea about Metro North


The late Jim Bradley of Stonington purchased some Pullmans which were part of a 14 car order by the New Haven in 1930. The cars were destined for the "Yankee Clipper" which was an all-parlor Boston-New York express. The first car he purchased in 1962 was the "Stag Hound" - a parlor/buffet/lounge. Over the years it had become a commuter club car and had finally been gutted and sat ready for scrap in the Boston coach yard. The second car he purchased was "Great Republic". Originally, he wanted the "Sovereign of the Seas" but the New Haven mixed up requests.

In 1962, Bradley's new acquisitions were delivered to Stonington - a small Connecticut coastal town right on the Rhode Island border. He then continued shopping. Boston held many old heavyweight parlors that had been rebuilt as suburban coaches. He selected two that seemed in better condition: "Philinda" - built in 1914 as a 30 seat/one drawing room parlor; and "Forest Hills" - built in 1927 as a 36-seat parlor. Flip-over plush seats had replaced parlor seats but they were still fancier than standard commuter coaches.

Next Bradley combed the scrap line at Cedar Hill in New Haven and found the "Breslin Tower" - a sleeper built in 1925 as a 10 section/1 bedroom/1 drawing room car. Originally it was named "Point Blank" but had been rebuilt in 1935 to an 8 section/1 drawing room/3 bedroom car. The car that was most visible from AMTRAK trains was acquired next - The "Fox Point" - a 1916 observation car used on the "Merchants Limited". After World War II it had been used as a mobile classroom. These cars made Bradley's backyard by 1964.

He tried to purchase other cars but the bureaucratic shuffle won and he lost them. However he did buy one non-New Haven car. The Narragansett Pier Railroad, a Rhode Island shortline, attempted to enter the excursion business. They owned an 1891 wooden car which Bradley picked up. Later he sold it to the Old Colony & Newport.

The six Pullman heavyweights have stood on the hill in Stonington over twenty years. Bradley spent much time and effort restoring the interior of the cars. He had to also care for the exteriors as the sea air rusts them easily. He had to repaint every three or four years with Pullman green.

Long Island Sound boaters, as well as AMTRAK travelers, could spot the Pullmans. Bradley always welcomed visitors.

When the cars originally went to Stonington, the railroad left them on a siding in Mystic and they moved over the road to Bradley's property. The process was reversed thirty years later at a far greater cost...$15,000 each. A 120 ton German crane along with riggers and movers performed the five-mile move to the Mystic railhead. It was the biggest thing in Mystic since Hollywood made "Mystic Pizza" a few years ago.

Preparation for the move began in February, 1991. All the mechanical components, including wheels, couplers and brake equipment, were inspected, and repaired or replaced, if necessary. Four sets of rebuilt air brake valves were installed. Four complete coupler and draft gear units were replaced. New hand-brake mechanisms were installed to meet Amtrak and Providence & Worcester (P&W) standards. Seven wheel sets were changed. At the same time, a 200-foot long access road was built.

The "Great Republic" was moved in April, 1991 by the Providence & Worcester to Old Saybrook. There the Valley Railroad's steamer #1647 pulled the former "Yankee Clipper" parlor to a new home in Essex. It was the car's first move behind steam since 1948. Restoration has began and hopefully will be done in time to use on their "Santa Claus" train. The "Great Republic" begins the fourth phase of life: beginning on a New Haven limited, then moving to secondary service, followed by being a static display, and now excursion service.

The remaining four cars were not moved until the end of July, 1991. The "Breslin Tower" was the last of the five cars moved and was also the heaviest. They departed Mystic along the old New Haven Shore Line behind Amtrak CF-7 #581. At New London and Saybrook, the cars were checked for problems while passengers awaiting an eastbound Amtrak train watched in wonder. At New Haven, they stood at the platform for a Metro-North inspection almost as if waiting for the New Haven electric that would have continued them on their westward journey thirty years or more ago.

Seeing them in the recently-restored New Haven station, I couldn't help but to reflect on the vast changes in Connecticut railroading while these cars sat in a Rip Van Winkle sleep. The New Haven Railroad disappeared, to be replaced first by Penn Central then by Amtrak, Conrail and Metro-North. Other New Haven trackage went to P&W, B&M and some short lines. Some became tourist trackage such as the Valley Railroad in Essex. Unfortunately, much was abandoned and torn up. The New Haven's electric locomotive fleet is no more. Instead, AMTRAK uses electrics not even on the drawing boards in 1962. Metro-North uses mostly MU cars (again, of a type only dreamed of in 1962) with a limited use of hybrid electric FL9's (one of the few 1962 items still in use). No railroad brass sit in the old New Haven General Office on Meadow Street. Instead operations are directed from Philadelphia, Washington, or New York. On the plus side, the New Haven station and the entire line to New York are in much better shape now and ridership is up and still climbing. By the way, in 1962 about the only exposure I had ever had to the New Haven Railroad was seeing the "Yankee trains" they pulled into Grand Central.

Leaving New Haven, the special train ran under wires to Devon, the intersection with the Waterbury line. At Devon, #581 shoved them on the west leg of the "wye" to a siding. The following day, Guilford locomotive #353 pulled them back onto the main line to run around them, and then pulled them back onto the siding on the north leg of the "wye" to allow the southbound Waterbury train to clear. Appropriately, power for this train was a repainted ex-NH FL-9 #2019. As the special headed north for Waterbury, someone mounted a "drumhead" which read "The Naugatuck". While these cars probably were never used on this line, "The Naugatuck" was a name train which did run on this line. At Waterbury, idler cars consisting of a B&M caboose and two ex-NH flat cars were inserted between the Pullmans. The train then moved over the Highland Line and through the Terryville Tunnel to the New Departure plant spur off the Terryville Loop Track. The curvature of the loop necessitated the idler cars. The cars are being stored there behind fences until the new museum property in Willimantic is ready for them.

ALL of the Jim Bradley cars have been saved. NONE SCRAPPED. The GREAT REPUBLIC is at the Valley RR in Essex CT. The STAG HOUND, FOREST HILLS, PHILINDA and BRESLIN TOWER are in the custody of the RAILROAD MUSEUM OF NEW ENGLAND, based around Waterbury CT. Originally, the FOX POINT was slated to be scrapped on site, as restoration was deemed unfeasible. Eventually, a local resident stepped in , aqquired this car, and is currently restoring it (or planning its' restoration).

By Ken Kinlock at

Update on the Bradley Collection as of January 15, 2006:

The Stag Hound, Forest Hills,Philinda and Breslin Tower all went to Railway Museum of New England.

The Great Republic went to the Valley Railroad and is in service.

The Fox Point went to a private individual and is located on farm in Plainfield.

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Waterbury Train Station

Railroads to Winsted Connecticut

Going through the Naugatuck Valley in Connecticut, railroad activity is minimal.

Limited passenger and freight service runs between Devon, on Long Island Sound, and Waterbury. At Waterbury, it is still easy to see that a real rail center once existed there: grass-overgrown, rusted tracks under huge bridge supports for the Interstate highways passing overhead. A dead-end branch runs north to Torrington and a single track runs eastward to Hartford.

In 1900, three passenger and four freight trains left Winsted daily. Now, even the tracks are all torn up. The Naugatuck line ran to Devon, near Bridgeport. The old Central New England ran from Hartford to Canaan and into Dutchess County of New York State. The New Haven had acquired the CNE in 1904 primarily for its 43-mile section from Hopewell Junction to Maybrook which included the Poughkeepsie Bridge. The rest of the 202-mile long road fell into decline as freight went from Hopewell Junction to Cedar Hill in New Haven via Danbury. Except for the Griffin line near Hartford, and some other small pieces, the rest was abandoned in the late 1930's. On the Naugatuck, trains from Winsted even ran into New York City. In pre-electrification days, they took on water at Waterbury, Ansonia and Darien and carried five or six bags of coke to use as an attempt to reduce smoke in the Grand Central tunnel.

Typical Naugatuck Valley trains took nine main line minutes from Bridgeport to the junction at Devon. The next eight miles to Derby were double tracked and shared with Maybrook freights hauled in steam days by powerful 2-10-2 Sante Fe's and later by ALCO FA's. Derby Junction to Waterbury was never fast as the tracks followed the river and crossed the highway repeatedly. Waterbury to Winsted had the worst curves on the line.

Devon to Waterbury was 28 miles. At Waterbury, a branch reached Watertown (5 miles); the Highland line ran 31 miles to Hartford; and the Naugatuck line continued 18 miles to Torrington and an additional 9 miles to Winsted.

Into the 1950's, there was even a named train on the route: the "Naugatuck" left Winsted at 6 am for the 116-mile trip to New York City. At 4:05 in the afternoon it left New York but only went as far as Waterbury (87 miles). A typical 1946 consist was an Rail Post Office and six coaches hauled by an I-1 or I-2 Pacific. Power was changed to/from electric at Bridgeport.

Waterbury was once known as the "Brass Center of the World". Companies such as American Brass, Waterbury Brass, Scovill Manufacturing, Chase Metal Works, and Waterbury Farrel Foundry made the city a draw for European immigrants and turned it into a rail center second only to Boston in New England. 1908 saw the completion of Bank Street Junction tower and Highland Junction tower at the west (compass south) end and east (compass north) end respectively of a remodeled rail yard. 1909 was the completion of the New Haven Railroad's impressive new Waterbury railroad station with its 245 foot clock tower. It is a replica of the Mangia Tower in Siena, Italy. The new track complex was the merger of what at one point was four separate railroads:

· Watertown and Waterbury Railroad (1870).

· Naugatuck Railroad (1849) (Winsted to Devon).

· New York & New England Railroad (1854-Hartford to Waterbury)1881-Waterbury to Brewster).

· Meriden, Waterbury and Connecticut River (1888).

Highland Junction, with 43 working levers, consisted of four mainline tracks connected by sets of crossovers. It controlled the Watertown branch, the Winsted main and the double track to Hartford. Bank Street Junction, with 58 working levers, controlled the Meriden branch, the double track line to Devon, and the line to Danbury via Southbury and Hawleyville.

In between these towers were a high-grade (through) yard and a low-grade yard (freight house, etc.). South of Bank Street was a 20-stall roundhouse. The Meriden line (later called the Dublin Street branch when it was shortened) crossed over the Naugatuck line on a long bridge.

In addition to New Haven trackage, much industry was served by street car lines. In 1912, Baldwin Locomotive Works, in conjunction with Westinghouse Electric, built two 45-ton steeple cab electrics for the Connecticut Company to haul and switch railroad cars around Waterbury.

Waterbury was important in both World Wars, but went into decline with the introduction of brass substitutes. Even earlier, the Meriden line was abandoned (except a short spur to Dublin Street). In 1937, ex-NY&NE trackage between Waterbury and Southbury was cut. The Watertown line became freight-only in 1924 although it was only torn up a few years ago. World War II slowed up the decay process but as steam power gave way to diesel, further declines were in order. Highland Junction was closed when the line to Hartford was single tracked and manual blocked. Now the tracks end at Torrington, Devon to Waterbury is single-track, and passenger service only goes to Waterbury.

When the New Haven Railroad saw that paved highways and automobiles were replacing the branch line local as the only way in and out of town, they began to explore alternatives. The usual locomotive and three car passenger train was beginning to lose a lot of business. Sometimes traffic fell to less than the capacity of a single coach. As an additional problem, the Mogul ten-wheelers and American-type locomotives assigned to these schedules were in need of replacement. Since most of these passenger runs were very short, efficient assignment of locomotives had never been a fact.

In the winter of 1921-22, two gasoline rail cars went into service. They were built by Mack and were only 34 feet long and powered by a four-cylinder, 60 h.p. truck engine. Both lasted until 1939.

By 1930, 36 units were in service, running an average of 2,760 miles per day. Many of these were 73-foot gas-electrics, and a few carried practically as many passengers as a conventional coach did. They were sometimes referred to as "poverty trains". Some cars merely shuttled back and forth between the same two points while others ranged over a number of lines in a single day. Many of the routes in the Naugatuck region of the NYNH&H saw these units.

The Besler steam car was used on the Naugatuck beginning in 1936. It was a fuel-fired, boiler-operated two-car unit developed by the Besler brothers. Named the "Blue Goose", it only ran a couple of years. Two passenger cars were converted, unfortunately they were heavyweights and overwhelmed Besler's plans. To provide a modernistic appearance, the clere stories of each car, as well as the front end of the combination power/passenger car, were streamlined. The small Besler steam engine was overworked and the crews abused the equipment. By 1943, the two cars had been rebuilt and returned to regular passenger service.

By Ken Kinlock at

Meriden, Waterbury and Connecticut River

The Middletown, Meriden and Waterbury Railroad was the final name of the line from Waterbury, Connecticut east to Cromwell, on the Connecticut River north of Middletown. The New York and New England Railroad leased the line (then the Meriden, Waterbury and Connecticut River Railroad) in 1892 (connecting in Waterbury), but the MW&CR went bankrupt soon after, and was reorganized as the MM&W in October 1898 and immediately leased to the New Haven on November 1, 1898. This line was the first in the area to be abandoned, only running interurban streetcar service in its final days. The MW&C had been formed in 1888 as a consolidation of the Meriden and Cromwell Railroad (opened 1885) and Meriden and Waterbury Railroad (opened 1888).
New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad
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Click above to read a story about the Armory Branch between East Hartford and Springfield via East Windsor
Click above to read a story about the Highland Line and New Britain Secondary
Rich Neighbor
You belong in Connecticut Rail Bus 2 Near the end of passenger service, the railroads tried to cut costs by switching from steam trains to gasoline powered rail buses. The rail buses ran from Pine Plains to Beacon and from Copake through Pine Plains to Poughkeepsie every day. Some old timers may remember riding the “Galloping Goose” to high school in Beacon or Poughkeepsie.

The rail buses had 60 to 120 horsepower motors and manual transmissions similar to trucks.

Even the rail buses were discontinued in September 1933. After retirement some of the rail buses were sold to the Cuban Railways.

New Haven RR Mack Rail Bus

Photo from the Martin Wheeler - William P. Fahey collection.

More on the freight business in the New Haven area:

Industries with sidings included M.I.F. in Branford who made iron fittings and had a little mobile steam crane that lasted into the late 1950's-early 1960's. Others were Atlantic Wire, Osborn Grain, New Haven Trap Rock (Branford Steam Railroad with own steam and diesel locomotives), Dodds Granite Quarry in Stony Creek (NHRR Employees timetable still called it Norcross but ownership had changed; it had its own steam locomotives). Guilford had Knowles & Lombard (coal). In East River there was De Forest & Hotchkiss Co.(lumber). Madison had a pit track for coal. Waterford had Millstone Quarry (granite).

East Haven sidings were serviced by switchers out of the West Bound Departure yard. Water Street switchers took care of the switching downtown, West Haven and the Canal. Belle Dock switchers took care of all inside the Dock, River St. et al. These switchers were not Locals but yard switchers doing yard work.
The article on the Canal Line was published in December, 1988
in the CALLBOARD of the Mohawk and Hudson Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society.
The article on Naugatuck to Winsted was published April 1992 in the BRIDGE LINE BULLETIN of the Bridge Line Historical Society.
Articles on Jim Bradley's Pullmans were published in the November 1989 CALLBOARD and January 1992 BRIDGE LINE BULLETIN.
Shore Line Route-


List of Connecticut Railroads
New Haven Railroad
Central New England Railway

Naugatuck Railroad History

Welcome to Connecticut History

Railroad Museum of New England pictures

Railroad Tunnels and Bridges

Railroad Archives at the
University of Connecticut Library

Photos by Peirce Behrendt:
Danbury Museum

Western Connecticut Railroads

Connecticut Research Resources

New Haven Railroad Passenger Equipment

Railroad Museum of New England

Other important railroad museums

The New England Transportation Company (NET Co.).
The company was created in 1925 and lasted until the Penn Central merger in 1969 as the rubber tired arm of the the New Haven Railroad in southern New England
New England Gateway, The New
See another "Alphabet Route" that used the Ontario & Western to connect Maybrook to the DL&W and Lehigh Valley.
Canaan Station
Canaan Station in the 1940's

Lee Beaujon collection

Sadly, the right half of this historic building burned. It was torched by teenagers. They were caught and now there is a restoration program underway.

At Canaan, the Central New England Railway crossed the Housatonic Railroad.

Both became part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.
Penn Central New Haven Railroad New York Central Railroad

Interested in Penn Central? New York Central? Pennsylvania Railroad? New Haven Railroad? or in the smaller Eastern US railroads? Then you will be interested in "What if the Penn Central Merger Did Not Happen". You will also enjoy "Could George Alpert have saved the New Haven?" as well as "What if the New Haven never merged with Penn Central?"

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