Cedar Hill was built between 1910 and 1920. The roundhouses were built in 1911. The Shore Line Receiving Yard, New York/Maybrook Receiving Yard, the two humps, Eastbound Classification Yard, and Westbound Classification Yard were built in 1918. The Montowese Tie Plant was built in 1922. The LCL warehouse and terminal were built around 1930.
If they started construction 1910, planning must have been around 1909. That puts the beginnings of Cedar Hill firmly in the Mellen era, along with his other major projects. 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?
The Cedar Hill Yards were part of the New Haven Terminal which consisted of 25 yards and switching districts and provided a classification facility to serve the several routes which converged there. Cedar Hill Territory had 14 yards with a capacity for 15,000 cars. The territory covered 880 acres, extended 7.1 miles from New Haven to the most northerly point, was approximately 1.5 miles wide, and had 154 miles of track.
The lazy, graceful pattern of the Quinnipiac River, with its bordering marshes, made the design of Cedar Hill a rare study in space utilization. The yards’ busiest was during World War II when a record 9,415 cars were handled.
At Blatchley Avenue Bridge, the tracks start to spread out to: (1) northbound main to Hartford and Springfield; (2) Shore Line to Providence and Boston; (3) Air Line to Middletown ( formerly to Willimantic and Boston); (4) the various yards and facilities of Cedar Hill. Note at this point the trackage is still electrified. Cedar Hill was the engine change point from electric to steam (and later diesel). By the 1940’s, Cedar Hill was almost unique in the variety of power it dispatched over three divisions – steam power, streamlined electric motors and brand new ALCO-GE diesels. To further complicate things, several bodies of water roam through the area – primarily the Quinnipiac River.
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