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Old Railroads of Connecticut


Old Railroads of Connecticut

Welcome to our Old Railroads of Connecticut WebSite



Here's a preview of some of the exciting projects we have put together for you:

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) .

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 DOT rail map.

See KC Jones BLOG about Railroad History

Our favorite Short Lines

Interesting Railway Stations
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State of Connecticut

Summary of Rail Freight in Connecticut
Rail Freight Services
Greater Danbury/New Milford Area
Connecticut Transportation Statistics
This WebPage is maintained for historical articles only.
For an up-to-date listing of North American Commuter Rail and Transit Systems, please visit our TRANSIT WebPage www.ominousweather.com/Transit.html

Rail Freight Carriers in Connecticut

Railroad

Service Area

Central New England Railroad


22 route miles operated
Small sections in Hartford area not covered by Connecticut Southern
Griffin Line and East Windsor Hill Branch

Connecticut Southern Railroad


76 route miles operated
Amtrak Springfield Line: Cedar Int. to Massachusetts Line (trackage rights)
Hartford area; Branches to East Windsor Hill and Manchester
Branches to Bradley and Suffield Cedar Hill Yard (overhead freight only)

CSX


69 route miles operated
Cedar Int. to New York State line Amtrak Springfield Line (Cedar Int. to Massachusetts: overhead freight only)

Guilford/Springfield Terminal/Boston & Maine; Pan Am


105 route miles operated
Watertown Junction to Derby Junction (Trackage rights over Metro North)
Berlin to Waterbury (including Canal Line)
Amtrak Springfield Line (overhead freight only)

Housatonic Railroad


83 route miles operated
Derby Junction to New York State line
Danbury to Massachusetts line

Naugatuck Railroad


20 route miles operated
Watertown Junction to Thomaston

New England Central Railroad


56 route miles operated
Groton to Massachusetts State line

Providence & Worcester Railroad


312 route miles operated
Cedar Int. to New York State line (overhead freight only) New Haven to Rhode Island line (including Belle Dock) Milford to Derby Junction Danbury Branch Derby Junction to Danbury (overhead freight only)
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Our HAND TOOL WebSite is intended in aiding you to locate HAND TOOL suppliers. You may search by product or by manufacturer. We add both products and manufacturers, so keep checking back. In addition we are a full service MRO (Maintenance, Repair and Operational Supplies) supplier. If you are in the construction or farming business, we are your source.

Rail Freight Inventory (as of 2007)

There are two short line providers of rail freight services in the Housatonic Region. These are the Housatonic Railroad Company (HRRC), the smaller of the two but the main provider in our area, and Providence and Worcester Railroad (P&W), larger overall but with less freight service in our immediate area. in contrast, CSX transportation is an important national railroad without tracks here but linking the Housatonic and Providence & Worcester short lines to continental markets.

CSX was created in 1978 through the merger of the Chessie System, Inc. and Seaboard Coast Line Industries.

CSX serves 22,700 miles of track in 23 states and two Canadian Provinces. For consumers in the Housatonic Region, interchanges between our local railroads and CSX in Pittsfield, Springfield and Worcester Massachusetts allow for movement of our freight. A major barrier to southern New England's freight operations, the nearby Hudson River, is crossed by CSX at the Selkirk Yards near Albany, N.Y. This is a round about routing for our freight, but more direct freight service via the Poughkeepsie Bridge crossing ended in 1974.

For perspective freight service southwesterly thru New York City is technically feasible but highly restricted. CSX does have another connection to west of the Hudson through the Pennsylvania Station Tunnels in New York City, but clearance restrictions, on the New Haven Line, and heavy passenger rail traffic make this route unusable for freight.

CSX is developing the freight yard at Cedar Hill in New Haven as a bulk loading facility, where raw materials such as lumber, flour and cement are loaded and unloaded between trucks and railcars.

Trailer on Flatcar Terminals (TOFC or piggyback) terminals are facilities where tractor trailer bodies or shipping containers are loaded and unloaded from flatcars. CSX trucks TOFC material to the TOFC facility in West Springfield, Mass., thereby eliminating some rail movement on the Springfield-New Haven Line operated by the Connecticut Southern Railroad. This saves a day in transit time, since Amtrak restrictions on the New Haven-Springfield Line had allowed Connecticut Southern only certain times in which to use the line.

The major CSX shipping route is from the Cedar Hill terminal over the Hartford-Springfield Line (Amtrak) where CSO has trackage rights. Connection is then made with the route from Boston and thence westerly through Massachusetts to the Selkirk Yards south of Albany, N.Y.


The Providence and Worcester Railroad (P&W), founded in 1844, operates in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York. The P&W is a major freight provider in the state of Connecticut and interchanges with CSX in Worcester, Mass.; the Springfield Terminal Railroad and Norfolk Southern in Gardner, Mass.; New England Central Railroad, Canadian Pacific, Canadian National and New England Central Railroads in New London; the New York and Atlantic Railway in Queens, N.Y.; the Housatonic Railroad in Danbury, and the Connecticut Southern Railroad in New Haven.

P&W serves customers within Connecticut along the entire coast, The Danbury Branch Line, The Maybrook Line, The Waterbury Branch Line to Derby Junction, from New Haven to Middletown and in the eastern portion of the state between the cities of Groton, Norwich, Plainfield, Willimantic and north to Worcester, Massachusetts.

The Cedar Hill Yard in New Haven is a principal point of arrival or departure for through trains connecting with national markets. Shipments with destinations west of the Hudson River interchange here with the Connecticut Southern Railroad and travel north to Springfield, mass., then west across the Hudson to the Selkirk yards.

P&W operates 545 miles of track and runs the largest double stack intermodal facility in New England in Worcester. In 2000 P&W transported over 29,776 carloads of freight.

But in our region, P&W serves only Rings End in Bethel on the north-south Danbury Branch Line and Tilcon Connecticut in Danbury on the east -west Maybrook Line. P&W has trackage rights on HRRC' s Maybrook Line from Danbury to Derby. P&W's use on the Maybrook line to serve Tilcon in Danbury is not in competition with the Housatonic Railroad, as Housatonic does not have trackage rights east of Derby Junction where this shipper sends its material. In exchange, P&W pays a mileage fee per car to Housatonic.


The Housatonic Railroad Company (HRRC) is based in Canaan, Connecticut which is near the Massachusetts border. It began operations in 1983 and operates over approximately 160 miles of track.

HRRC operates north-south between Danbury and Pittsfield, Massachusetts on the Berkshire Line. East and west, the railroad operates between the New York state border and Derby, CT on the Maybrook Line. The railroad has freight rights westerly on the Maybrook Line to Beacon, N.Y.

The Railroad provides local freight service in the Housatonic Valley and through interchange with CSX in Pittsfield, freight transportation links to the national rail system. In 2000 this company carried approximately 6,000 carloads of freight. As will be demonstrated by the inventories below, HRRC is the largest rail freight provider in the Housatonic Valley Region. it has also become something of a cherished institution, its engines and equipment adding to the colorful personality of the area.

The HRRC is presently constructing the Hawleyville Transload Terminal in Newtown as part of its Shepaug Reload Center. This facility currently allows local and regional lumberyards to take delivery of building materials originally sent by rail.

The expanded transload station will allow for intermodal transfer of non-hazardous raw materials such as flour or starch. It will have a capacity for loading and unloading of 40 rail cars with nearby storage for another 100 cars. The transfer station, an economic asset for our area, will allow companies shipping or receiving bulk materials that do not have their own sidings to access rail freight service. Potentially, TOFC service could operate at this location as well.


The Danbury Branch Line is owned by the State of Connecticut. All other lines in the Region are privately owned by the Housatonic Railroad, except for a section of the Berkshire Line from central New Milford north to the Kent Town Line that is also owner by Conn DOT.

P&W is the local freight provider on the Danbury Branch Line, serving just one client, in Bethel. There are no active freight customers on the line to the south of Bethel in Redding or Ridgefield.

The Branch Line enters Redding from Wilton, CT, passes under Route 107, then skirts on its western edge the old Gilbert and Bennett Factory Building complex, a former significant rail freight user.

The Line then reenters Wilton, paralleling Route 7 in its eastern side, for a total distance in Redding of 0.52 miles and then back into Wilton for 0.37 miles.

Entering from Wilton, The Danbury Branch Line continues into Ridgefield, for a total distance of 0.75 miles. There is an at grade crossing at Portland Avenue, followed by the Branchville Railroad Station, then an at grade crossing at Depot Road. The Danbury Branch Line parallels Route 7 on its eastern side through Ridgefield, continues north and enters Redding, CT.

The Branch Line when passing thru Redding for a second time crosses over Old Mountain Road, then over Sympaug Turnpike, then proceeds to an at grade crossing with Topstone Road. Then just after Umpawaug Pond to its east, the Branch Line turns from north to north east.

Paralleling the route of Sympaug Turnpike to its west, the Line then passes under that road and then follows it on its west side until the West Redding Railroad Station, located just before the at grade crossing with Long Ridge Road. The Branch Line then parallels Route 53 on its east as it passes from Redding into Bethel, CT.

Entering from Redding, the Danbury Branch Line proceeds in a northerly direction, west of and parallel to Route 53. It then crosses over Route 53 and proceeds towards Bethel Center. Total length of the line in Bethel is 4.5 miles.

There is an at grade crossing at Taylor Avenue. Ring's End, located at 9 Taylor Avenue, is a retail outlet providing lumber, hardware and building materials. The freight needs of this company are served by the P&W Railroad, reaching Ring's End by traveling westerly on the Maybrook Line to Danbury, then south on the Danbury Branch to the siding for this company.

The Branch Line then proceeds to an at grade crossing at Bethel's South Street, followed by an at grade crossing of Bethel's major traffic artery Greenwood Avenue (Route 302), then on northerly to the Bethel Railroad Station. The line then turns northwesterly and enters Danbury, CT.

There are no rail freight customers along the 2.1 mile length of the Danbury Branch Line in the City of Danbury.

Entering from Bethel, the Danbury Branch Line proceeds northeasterly across at grade crossings with Great Pasture Road, Shelter Rock Road, and then bridges the Still River. There are then additional at grade crossings with Triangle Street, Taylor Street and Chestnut Street.

Soon reaching the modern Danbury Railroad Station, the Branch Line terminates at the Maybrook Line in front of Danbury's historic Union Station, now housing the Danbury Railway Museum.

Danbury's historic railroad yard, encompassing several acres on both sides of the Still River between White Street, Patriot Drive, Pahquioque Avenue and Wildman Street, is now owned by The State of Connecticut, and leased to the Danbury Railway Museum and MTA Metro-North Railroad. The freight house was torn down in 1989 and there are no active freight operations here.


The origin point for the Berkshire Line in Danbury is close to the Brookfield Town Line, near the entrance to the Berkshire Corporate Park off of White Turkey Road Extension. This is Berkshire Junction, where the Maybrook Line turns east and the Berkshire Line has its origin point and proceeds north into Brookfield and then New Milford.

The Berkshire Line is owned by the Housatonic Railroad Company to central New Milford and by Conn DOT from there northerly along the Housatonic River to the Massachusetts State Line.

There are no freight customers in Danbury, in part due to the fact that the origin point for the Berkshire Line in Danbury is very close to the Brookfield Town Line. This location is the site of the Proposed Danbury North Railroad Station.

Entering Brookfield from Danbury, the Berkshire Line parallels the Route 7 Expressway to its west. Throughout Brookfield the track remains within the gentle downgrade of the Still River Valley.

HRRC via the Berkshire Line in Brookfield serves the freight needs of Pharmco Products, located at 58 Vale Road. This company is a leading manufacturer of alcohol based solvents and chemicals. There are no other rail freight customers along the Berkshire Line in Brookfield.

The Berkshire Line then proceeds north, crossing over Side Cut Road and then under Grays Bridge Road. Continuing north on the east side of the Route 7 Expressway, the Line crosses over Route 133, then to the north under Silvermine Road, then under Route 25 near Brookfield Center, location for the Proposed Brookfield Railroad Station. The line then continues to follow the Still River northerly into the Town of New Milford, CT.

Entering New Millford from Brookfield, the Berkshire Line once in New Milford parallels the Still River while running along its east bank, passing over Old Middle Road, then under Old Pumpkin Hill Road, under Erickson Road, and having an at grade crossing with Still River Road.

The Berkshire Line then continues to proceed northerly, sandwiched in between the Housatonic River to its east and Pickett District Road to its west. Here along Pickett District Road service is provided to ACH Food Companies, Inc., located at 87 Pickett District Road, a manufacturer and packager of oil based food products. ACH Food has a 70,000 square foot plant with about 50 employees. Rail freight for this company is provided by HRRC.

The Berkshire Line next serves the massive Kimberly Clark Corporation, a very large facility with about 1,200 employees located at 58 Pickett District Road, which manufactures sanitary personal paper products and employs 1200 persons. This company is also served by the HRRC.

Adjacent to Kimberly Clark and parallel to the Housatonic River, HRRC maintains a small freight switching area for sorting loads and making up new ones for local delivery or northbound trains. Cargo transfers are all internal: no materials are loaded to or unloaded from freight cars to trucks in this yard.

The Berkshire Railroad Line next crosses the Housatonic River and proceeds up that River's east bank. In so doing it has at grade crossings with South Avenue, then Mill Street, then Bridge Street (Route 67) the major artery in Downtown New Milford .

At Milepost 11.3 there is a freight siding just north of the New Milford Railroad Station, now surrounded by the Clifford C. Chapin Railroad Plaza. This siding is not currently in use.

The Berkshire Line then crosses over Pleasant Street and the Aspetuck River. After the at grade crossing of Aspetuck Ridge Road, rail spurs extend out to the large vacant industrial building known as the Century Brass Mill/DAVKO property. The Town of New Milford is the current owner and is seeking a developer to purchase this 72 acre site.

Proceeding on over Boardman Road, the Berkshire Line next serves FIDCO Inc. (formerly Nestle), located at 201 Housatonic Avenue, a food flavoring and products manufacturer with 154 employees. The freight needs of this facility are served by the HRRC.

The Berkshire Line then continues northerly, past the at grade crossing on Boardman Road, along the Housatonic River to then cross into the Town of Kent, CT. Conn DOT ownership of the line begins in New Milford at Milepost 13.

The Line then continues along the east bank of the Housatonic River, crosses into Massachusetts, and reaches Pittsfield, Mass. where a transfer of freight to CSX is made by the HRRC.


All of the east - west Maybrook Line in Connecticut is owned by the Housatonic Railroad Company. The line currently begins in Beacon, New York but once began in Maybrook, New York and thus received its name. This route was a major east-west freight corridor until the early 1970's. The name of this Line seems to be in flux, as some New York sources now give it the title "Beacon Line" west of the border with Connecticut.

Service west of Beacon ended when a bridge over the Hudson River at Poughkeepsie, N.Y. burned in 1974. Since that time the Selkirk Yard to the north near Albany, N.Y. has been the main funnel for freight from the west entering New England and then southerly to our sub state area. New York State DOT is currently conducting a feasibility study as to restoring the connection at or near Poughkeepsie.

In New York State, west of the Connecticut border, the Maybrook (Beacon) Line is owned by MTA Metro-North Railroad. There is no active freight usage on this line west of Danbury. The Maybrook Line interchanges with the north-south oriented Harlem and Hudson lines of Metro-North, however, intense passenger service on these lines limits the potential for freight services on them.

Beginning a detailed description of its passage through our planning region, the Maybrook Line leaves New York State's Putnam County proceeding easterly, then enters Danbury on the north side of and paralleling I-84. The state line is milepost 71.2.

Just east of I-84 Exit 2, and before the Line passes under Route 6 (Mill Plain Road), there is a spur line to Banta Direct Marketing Group, a printing and publishing company with 240 employees, located at 1 Prindle Lane, (which is a short access road to Route 6). Rail freight service to Banta is provided by the HRRC.

The Maybrook Line then proceeds easterly, sandwiched tightly between and paralleled by Route 6 to its north and on the south by I-84. The rail route passes under Kenosia Avenue, and then by the north side of the Danbury Fair Mall as it follows the Still River Valley into central Danbury.

The next rail freight user is the Fairfield Processing Corporation, located at 88 Rose Hill Avenue with 187 employees. This firm produces polyester fiber batting for industrial and consumer applications and is served by the HRRC.

The Maybrook Line then crosses Route 53, Main Street in Danbury, at grade. Should the Maybrook Line ever reemerge as a major east-west freight artery, the length or frequency of freight trains could be greater increased here. Traffic flow on Main Street could be significantly impacted by any such change.

Just after the at grade crossing at White Street is Danbury's historic Union Station, now the home of the Danbury Railway Museum. The railroad station function was relocated in 1996, such that today's Danbury Railroad Station is on the south side of the rail yard. At the Union Station the Danbury Branch Line officially terminates as that line joins the Maybrook Line.

The Maybrook Line proceeds easterly to an at grade crossing at Wildman Street, then turns northeasterly just before it passes under busy White Street. Midway between Wildman and White Street at the location of the former McLachlan Hat Factory is the Fairfield Processing White Street siding. This location is served by HRRC.

There is then a spur to serve the rear of Automated Waste Disposal, located at 307 White Street, a firm dealing with commercial and residential waste disposal. AWD is one of the largest waste haulers in Connecticut with over 225 employees and several subsidiaries. The rail freight service to AWD is provided by HRRC.

The Maybrook Line now closely parallels Federal Road (State Route 805) as it proceeds northeasterly along the Still River Valley. The next freight user is Tilcon Connecticut, located in the Commerce Park section of Danbury at 49 Eagle Road.

Tilcon is a sand, gravel and concrete supplier. Although this track is owner by the HRRC, this company is served by the P&W Railroad. P&W has much gravel and sand hauling work in Connecticut. As it ships this material to location where HRRC does not have trackage rights, it is not in direct competition with HRRC for this account.

The Maybrook Line is now closely sandwiched between Federal Road on its northwest and Eagle Road on its southeast, as it passes the edge of the busy Commerce Park business area. It then passes under I-84 to meet Eagle Road Extension at an at grade crossing.

Crossing the Still River, then closely paralleling White Turkey Road Extension on its northeast side, the Line passes the site of the proposed Danbury North Railroad Station (at the existing park and ride location), then proceeds into Brookfield.

Just north of the Danbury-Brookfield Line near the entrance to Berkshire Corporate Park the Berkshire Rail Line begins. This takes the form of a fork in the tracks, with the Maybrook Line turning from northeasterly to easterly and the Berkshire Line continuing northerly along the Still River Valley. The site of the Proposed Danbury North Railroad Station is nearby.

The Maybrook Line now runs easterly thru Brookfield, passing into Newtown, CT. There are no rail freight customers on the Maybrook Line in Brookfield.

Just after its at grade crossing with Route 25, the Maybrook Line has a spur to the Shepaug Reload and Distribution Center, with an address of 30 Hawleyville Road/Route 25. This facility is operated by HRRC. It allows regional lumberyards to take local delivery of building materials sent by rail, and will soon be expanded to include transfer of other bulk materials.

Continuing on and after a turn southwesterly, the Maybrook Line passes under I-84. It then serves Rand-Whitney Containers Newtown L.L.C., located at One Edmond Road, a firm dedicated to high tech, high quality corrugated printing and converting. This company is served by the HRRC.

Just before the crossing over Route 6, the Maybrook Line has a siding to serve the building housing the Sonics Company. While no freight service is currently provided, a future tenant of this building will have a rail option available.

Crossing over busy Route 6 (Newtown's Church Hill Road), the Maybrook Line proceeds thru much of Newtown, skirting the west side of the old Fairfield Hills State Hospital and then paralleling Route 25 on that major artery's east side.

Off of 101 South Main Street is a Fairfield Processing Company facility that has a rail spur to the Maybrook Line, not now currently in use for freight shipments.

At 201 South Main Street is the Georgia-Pacific warehouse. Georgia-Pacific is a distributor of tissue, pulp, paper, packaging, building products and related chemicals. This location is served by HRRC.

Wickes Lumber Company, at 46 Swamp Road, not far off Botsford Hill Road now occupies the former Newtown Lumber Company location, once served by the HRRC. This firm is a rail freight customer.

The Line then swings easterly to its milepost 93.5, the now vacant Charles Batchelder Company Property. This is a former aluminum smelting plant vacant since 1987 with an existing siding. The Town of Newtown is seeking to clean up the location and market it for light industrial use. HRRC (and through them, CSX) has expressed interest in serving this location.

The Maybrook Line then leaves Newtown and enters Monroe. Proceeding easterly, it reaches the Housatonic River where it travels along the west bank of that watercourse for some miles. The remaining active customer between Georgia-Pacific in Newtown and Derby Junction is Stevenson Lumber in Monroe.

Crossing the Housatonic from Shelton, CT to Derby, CT, the Berkshire Line terminates at its junction with the Waterbury Branch Line. Freight service proceeds on the Waterbury Branch Line south (where P&W has freight rights) along the east bank of the Housatonic River, to meet the main line in Milford, CT, where a connection northeasterly to New Haven is made.

This information is presented to enable all parties to better deal with rail freight issues in the Region. It is intended to assist rail freight providers in marketing their services, assists municipalities in marketing buildings and land with proximity to rail, and government agencies to improve this economic development resource. Appreciation is expressed to Richard Schreiner at the Housatonic Area Regional Transit District (HART), and voluntary assistance to him from Peter McLachlan of the Danbury Railway Museum, for conducting much of the research for this HVCEO planning report.

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Cedar Hill Yard Driving north from New Haven, Cedar Hill yard cannot be overlooked. Its still used, but not to the extent it was 50 year ago. Imagine, over 9,000 cars handled on one day! Cedar Hill was built between 1910 and 1920. Cedar Hill became in the 1920's the keystone of the whole New Haven Railroad freight operation. It seems to have started out as a more local facility, then grown into that larger role. Or was the idea of making it the center part of the original intention?
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Highland Line and New Britain Secondary


The New Haven's Highland Line between Hartford and Waterbury was important for both passenger and freight right up to the end of the New Haven. The line almost paralled the Springfield line between Hartford and Waterbury (about 11 miles). There was a short connection between Berlin and New Britain (2.46 miles). Then the Highland Line cut Westward to Waterbury.

Mile markers between New Britain and Hartford shown below:
New Britain 53.93
Smalley 55.11
Newington 58.17
Elmwood 59.37
Parkville 61.48
Hartford 62.99

Under Conrail, the Highland Line between New Britain and Hartford became the New Britain Secondary. It is gone now and the rest of the Highland Line is accessed by use of the connection from the Springfield Line.

To my knowledge the B&M/Guilford never used Conrail's stretch of the New Britain Secondary between Hartford and New Britain. To my knowledge, the line's use as a through route between Hartford and New Britain ended in the early 1980s (approximately) when the State of Connecticut did an inspection of the two bridges that carry Interstate-84 over the New Britain Secondary and found that one or more steel beams had started to shift off the concrete abutments or piers. The state saw this as a serious situation and built a temporary pier using large concrete blocks under one or both bridges to support the bridge(s) until the state could make permenant repairs. Of course the temporary bridge supports were placed in the middle of the New Britain Secondary stopping any trains from passing. This obstruction forced Conrail to serve the last customer or two on the New Britain Secondary by running its local on Amtrak's Springfield Line from Hartford to Newington were the train crossed over to the New Britain Secondary and backed the train up some two or three miles to serve the customers. This operation lasted about a year or so when the siding to the last remaining customer was extended and connected to the Amtrak's Springfield line, thus ending all service on the New Britain Secondary line.

In 1987, Conrail listed the following customers on the line:

Hartford Lumber - Actually located in on the Griffin Line very close to where the Griffin Line connected to the New Britain Secondary.

Heublin - The company produced liquor at the plant and received up to four tank cars at a time. Heublin was the last company that was served by the New Britain Secondary. It was also the company that had its siding disconnected from the New Britain Secondary, extended and connected to Amtrak's Springfield Line. The plant was closed and demolished in the late 1990s.

Industrial Safety Supply - Received box cars on rare occassions.

May Lewis

Sears - This was the local distribution center. Received box cars of merchandise.

H. P. Hood Inc. - A milk plant. Although they are listed on these 1987 maps, they had stopped using rail service many years before and the siding had long since been disconnected from the New Britain Secondary and torn up.

In the early to mid 90's in New Britain, the grade crossings at Stanley, East Main, Smalley, and East (Jnct of Allen) Streets had the rail removed and paved over for smooth traffic flow.

One other industry that was in between the Stanley/East Main crossings was a coal dealer, but that was out of service for a since the late 70's, however Conrail used that section to store empty ballast cars there in the 80's.

The rails are gone, so they want to build a busway now!
See where it goes.

See more about the Highland Line

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com
New Haven Railroad Home Page Connecticut Freight

Armory Branch



The line between East Hartford and Springfield via East Windsor was called the Armory Branch as it served the neightborhood where the venerable Springfield Armory was located. The line was built by the Springfield & New London (Springfield to the CT state line) and the original Connecticut Central (state line to East Hartford). It was leased briefly by the Connecticut Valley RR in 1876, then was independent until 1880 when it was taken over by the New York & New England. It was operated by the New Haven from 1898 until 1968, losing its last passenger trains in 1931. In 1969 the Penn Central took over, phasing out service between East Windsor and Hazardville by 1972. This track was later abandoned but left in place. The remaining portions were taken over by Conrail in 1976. In 1982 the Boston & Maine took over the Hazardville - Springfield portion, operating this until the Guilford era strikes dried up business by 1984. The track remained in place for a few years afterward, but the former Springfield & New London was removed as Massachusetts failed to purchase and "rail-bank" (allow abandoned track to remain in place) it. The former Connecticut Central was railbanked by Connecticut to the South Windsor area. Operating rights on this portion were later taken over by the Central New England RR, and the line is slowly being restored to operating condition. Meanwhile, the portion of line from East Hartford to South Windsor was sold by Conrail to the Connecticut Southern c. 1996.

Freight has consisted of many things over the years -coal, oil, LPG, steel, feed, manufactured goods, lumber, fertilizer, chemicals, paper, machinery and brick.

In 2007, Central New England (CNZR) has 6 locomotives. On the Griffin line (Hartford to Bloomfield) they have 2 GP-xx painted in their own colors and may still have a GE 25 tonner stored at the north end. They run daily to service the Home Depot distribution building in Bloomfield, not sure about other customers. They also control the Armory line (East Hartford, just outside the CSO Yard to Warehouse point) they have 2 RS-3s on that line, one that was last at Cape Cod Central and a NYNH&H which they store at the north end of the line, with a bunch of their equipment. I am not sure what they have for traffic on the Armory branch. And there is the GP-9 that is stored OOS at Hartford Market. CNZR actually leases the Bloomfield branch from the CT-DOT. They interchange in a little yard just a 100 yds north of the Amtrak station in Hartford. CSOR brings the interchange train over from their yard and switches it out during the day. The second CNZR line is part of NH's old Armory Line. CSOR owns the part from East Hartford to Sullivan Ave, South Windsor. CNZR opperates the rest of it up to the MA line. (MA ripped up the rest of the line to Springfield Station.. ..) There is only one customer right now, a fertalizer CO-OP in Broad Brook CT. I love their NH painted RS-1 that operates there!! Other potenial customers include a lumber yard and yes...LEGO in Enfield. If they could just land a contract like they did with Home Depot in Bloomfield.

The New Haven Railroad Historical and Technical Association
has created a great map of the New Haven Railroad at its greatest extent.

Click below to see it.

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Canal Line today through New Haven

Canal Line today through New Haven

Well over a century ago, the Farmington Canal was converted to a railroad. The Farmington Canal was the longest canal ever built in New England. An 1846 charter was granted and the new road was opened between New Haven and Plainville in 1848. Much grading had been accomplished in constructing the canal so the towpath basically became the roadbed for the railroad. The road was named the New Haven & Northampton, but has always been called the Canal Line. The road's first terminal in New Haven was between Temple Street and Hillhouse Avenue. Upon completion, the Canal Line was leased to the New York & New Haven for twenty years. The directors decided to extend beyond Plainville and reach the Western Railroad in Massachusetts. The Hartford & New Haven blocked its connection with the Western Railroad. In 1850 it went to Farmington, Simsbury, Granby and Tariffville. It made a Massachusetts connection at Westfield in 1855. It reached Northampton in 1856. A line from Northampton to Williamsburg was completed in 1868. That portion of the line from Williamsburg to Florence was abandoned in 1962.

The Canal Line and the New York & New Haven were surveyed by Alexander C. Twining. Twining, a Yale professor, was one of the leading contemporary engineers in the country. He originally intended to become a minister, but found engineering more interesting and continued his studies at West Point.

The right of way through part of New Haven for both the NY & New Haven and the NH & Northampton was in the bed of the Farmington Canal parallel with State Street. There was a freight house near Water Street. When the New York & New Haven was opened in 1848, a Union Station at Chapel Street was designed by Henry Austin (1804-1891). He also designed New Haven's City Hall, Yale's Dwight Chapel and the Grove Street Cemetery gate. While architecturally splendid from the outside, it was a difficult station to use because passengers had to descend into a smoky cut. One young boy asked his father when they arrived in the station "are we in Hell?" His father replied "no, just New Haven".

As previously mentioned, the Hartford & New Haven viewed with alarm the projected extension of the Canal Railroad which paralleled it. Originally, the Hartford road had terminated at a steamboat landing to which it transferred its passengers for the final leg to New York City. The New York & New Haven agreed to oppose the extension of the Canal Railroad. In return the Hartford & New Haven made transfer from rail to steamboats difficult and thus encouraged transfer to the New York & New Haven. The NY & New Haven merged with the Hartford & New Haven in 1872 by mutual exchange of stock.

An outstanding source of early information on all three of these railroads is "The First 20 Years of Railroads in Connecticut" by Sidney Withington. This book was funded by the Tercentenary Commission of the State of Connecticut and published by Yale University Press in 1935.

Chester W. Chapin was the president of the Western Railroad which later became the Boston & Albany. His successor was William Bliss. Before the New Haven bridged the Thames at New London to create the "Shore Line Route" between Boston and New York, the "Springfield Route" was especially important. This traffic was key to the B&A. Knowing they would eventually loose this, Chapin & Bliss tried to lease the New Haven. When this failed, they tried to lease the New Haven & Northampton. This would have given the B&A not only an entrance into New Haven, but by construction of only a comparatively few miles of railroad, a connection between Waterbury and the friendly Harlem at White Plains could be established. New Haven & Northampton stock shot up overnight and James R. Sheffield, its principal owner, sold it to the New Haven. The large profits that he realized upon this transaction went to establish the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale.

As well as several junctions with other New Haven lines, the Canal Line intersected some interurbans. Typical of these was the Meridan, Cheshire & Waterbury. This line was built as a steam road in 1888, later electrified, fell under New Haven ownership (like many Connecticut interurbans), and was abandoned in 1924.

In 1968, the Boston & Maine assumed 18 miles of track between Westfield and Florence, Mass. The New Haven had applied for abandonment of the line north of Easthampton, and was running to Florence only once or twice a week. The B&M had taken over the Turner's Falls branch in 1947.

The northern segment of the Canal Line, which at one point ran as far as Turner's Falls, is either gone or part of the Pioneer Valley. Formed in 1982 when CONRAIL shed its "dogs", the Pioneer Valley is part of the Pinsley group of short lines. This line is headquartered in Westfield where it interchanges with CONRAIL. The PVRR operates the old Canal Line as far north as Easthampton. It also operates the ex New Haven branch to Holyoke where it interchanges with the B&M. The line to Easthampton usually operates once a week while the Holyoke line runs daily. The only active customer on the Easthampton line is the W.R. Grace plant that manufactures Zonolite insulation. Westfield and Holyoke have several busy customers. In addition, Holyoke operates a tourist line utilizing old Lackawanna commuter cars.

The 14-mile segment from New Haven through Hamden to Cheshire has been idle for years. Environmentalists have been fighting to preserve the right-of-way as a public walking or bike trail. The Interstate Commerce Commission exempted the corridor from normal abandonment procedures and waived an environmental impact statement because they felt there would be no adverse environmental effects. So far, the Boston & Maine has signed 35 contracts with private parties who want to buy portions of the line.

In 1987 the Boston & Maine Railroad told the Interstate Commerce Commission that it might apply to abandon the remaining part of the line which runs through Cheshire, Southington, Plainville, Farmington, and Avon. In February 1988, Vinay V. Mudholkar, a vice president of Guilford Transportation Industries Inc. of North Billerica, Mass., which owns the B&M, announced plans to withdraw the abandonment. This would be contingent on reaching agreement with RW Technology Inc. of Cheshire to greatly increase traffic on the line.

Stephen W. Dunn, transportation planning coordinator for the Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency - which is coordinating an effort by businesses and officials from the five towns to save the line - said the Cheshire plant could use more than 2000 rail cars each year. RW is a rubber recycling firm. Companies will ship resin into the plant which will be mixed with rubber from old tires and then shipped by tank cars all over the country. Another company expects to ship machinery via the railroad. About 550 rail cars travel the line each year now according to Dunn.

Mudholkar stated that the rail line would have to be upgraded to be saved. Guilford estimated it would cost $549,000 to rebuild the tracks on the southern part of the line. The northern section of the line - through Plainville, Farmington and Avon - would cost about $400,000 to upgrade.

Shippers along the line say they need the railroad, and they say the Canal Line could be profitable. Town officials say the railroad could help attract business. Dunn said that if the line is abandoned, there would be economic effects totaling $1.46 million. He said the resulting increase in truck traffic would cause $969,000 in damage to highways each year. Most of the balance of the economic cost of closing the railroad would consist of higher shipping fees to Businesses, Dunn said.

Mudholkar said that if Farmington Ready Mix Inc. - a Farmington cement-mixing plant with the potential to receive 2000 rail cars of gravel a year - starts using rail shipment, railroad officials would reconsider plans to abandon the northern section of the line.

Ronald K. Dahle, president of Farmington Ready Mix, said he would rather receive material by rail than by truck because it is quieter and more efficient to unload a rail car than a truck.

The line north of Avon to Massachusetts is abandoned. Much of the track is still intact however it is greatly deteriorated. Grade crossings are paved over and stations have been converted to other uses (like the "One Way Fare" restaurant in Simsbury).

Access to the southern portion of the line is via the old New Haven Highland Line at Plainville and is currently operated by Springfield Terminal as traffic requires. Most of the old B&M and New Haven crews have retired.

By Ken Kinlock at kenkinlock@gmail.com

More on the Canal Line

Normally in the mid to late 1960's, the Lower Canal job worked out of Plainville. Earlier in the 1960's, the job worked out of Water Street in New Haven. Normal power was an RS-3 although sometimes you might see a 640 class on it too. One round trip per day was the norm. When the job worked out of New Haven, sometimes it would go north of Plainville to Simsbury or up the branch to Unionville and Collinsville. One reason the job was moved to Plainville was the situation in New Haven, more and more cars could not go through the "Canal Cut" and many engines were restricted there too. In addition, the track through that area was none too good. In later years, a switcher out of Water Street would go up through the cut to work Winchester at night. I believe some of the cars had to be brought down from Plainville at that time. A Budd Car trip up the Canal in May of 1968, required separate payment for a track patrol over this portion of the line on the day of the trip prior to leaving New Haven. North of Plainville, it was a different story, the track was better maintained and there was still a through freight NY-2 and YN-1 which ran right up to and past the end of the New Haven Railroad. Speeds were higher and there were no crossings that had to be protected by the train crew.

There were a few freight customers in Cheshire that I recall. At the W. Main crossing there were sidings that served Ball & Socket Mfg. (mfr. of brass buttons and fittings) and Copeland Chemical (mfr. of asphalt sealants). Cheshire Lumber was served as well. Further north as the line paralleled Peck Lane in the Johnson Avenue area, Bozzuto's, a grocery distributor was served by the line. The siding at Jarvis Street, was used by the Cheshire Reformatory. The Ye Old Body Shop on West Main used to be the Cheshire station.

The lower canal or Winchesters, had G.O. Lumber, G.O. Steel, Tops, Register, Winchesters, Ross Darwin, Chargar, Safety Car, Pine Swamp, N.E. Iron, Whitney Blake, Hi Test, Leonards Concrete, High Standard.
New Haven's Canal Line New Haven's Canal Line New Haven's Canal Line

Abandonment Summary: 1937 - 1991

MAPS 1922 & 1937

1922 Timetable

Anaconda in the Naugatuck Valley


Anaconda was once a New Haven big time customer in the Naugatuck Valley. Ansonia, Waterbury and Torrington. Big shipper both inbound and outbound.

Inbound scrap, big receiver of coal especially in Torrington for their powerhouse, materials etc. Outbound brass products for everywhere, piping, tubing, brass goods, rods, plates, rolls you name it, they made it and most of it was shipped by rail. When the brass industry in the Naugatuck Valley went down, the railroad went down with it. As for switching, they had two fireless steam switchers in Waterbury which later on were replaced with a trackmobile. The local did their switching in Torrington and in Derby, the New Haven Railroad had a round the clock switcher which did the switching in Ansonia.

At one time, American Brass (Anaconda) made all of their own electricity in Torrington and I can still remember the power house whistle, it could be heard for many miles. They had a huge pile of coal outside the powerhouse and a crane with a clam on it to move the coal around and inside to be burned, very fascinating to observe from the old Prospect Street bridge in Torrington. When this place was going good, coal came up on the local every day seven days a week. Many of the buildings in Torrington are gone but the last I knew, part of the old rod mill could still be seen from High Street and the fine old stone office building can be seen from Water Street just past the railroad crossing going away from downtown. Want to see more, take a ride on the Naugy between Waterbury and Bridgeport. At Waterbury, some of the old buildings along Freight Street still survive and also the old south plant near South Main Street and Washington Street.

Riding the Naugy through Ansonia just north of the station, the railroad goes right through the old plants with buildings on both sides of the track. Very sad sights, just imagine what was around there years ago. At one time, Waterbury originated and received more freight than any other terminal in New England outside of Boston. They used to have a poster in the waiting room of the old big station stating that fact. At one time, the New Haven Railroad was very proud of their operations in Waterbury.
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