Category Archives: New Haven Railroad

The Canal Line In New Haven

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 in the 1980’s. Between Cheshire and Hamden.

See lots more on abandoned railroads in Connecticut
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/old-railroads-of-connecticut/

More Bar Cars On The New Haven Railroad?

The best-known bar car V XI-GBC a.k.a. Five Eleven Gentlemen’s Bar Car

When the government stepped in with modern “Cosmopolitan” cars (1970’s). At that time, someone sent us an article that had a proposal for bar cars. After 30+ years we seem to have lost the source, but will reprint it below anyway.

Read more interesting stories about the New Haven Railroad
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/connecticut-railfan/

You Are Now In “Alice’s Restaurant” Territory

Arlo Guthrie’s church was extensively used in his 1968 film Alice’s Restaurant, which became kind of a hippie-era cult classic. It may still show up on some cable station now and then. According to Arlo’s version of the story, which he tells in his long narrative song of the same name, it’s supposed to be true.

The film has one brief scene, of New Haven train #138 at Stockbridge.

Berkshire historians know that there never was an “Alice’s Restaurant” — not by that name anyway! Its most recent reincarnation was as Theresa’s; used to be known as The Back Door.

Old photos show as many as five tracks across from the church. This is where the State Line branch went off the main line. All freight and passenger business was done here. The lines paralled up to Rising or Dalys, where the branch went off to State Line. There is a large block of marble where the station was and I have always wondered if it was part of the foundation? Last Passenger train to State Line was a “Mixed Train”.

Alice Brock’s “The Back Door” was in “downtown” Stockbridge, at the rear of an alley. That’s the establishment spoken of in the song, and briefly featured in the film, which was all shot on location.

As a result of Arlo’s song and film, Alice sort of got “discovered” and opened a considerably larger and far more upscale establishment up on Rt. 183 across from Tanglewood, called “Alice’s at Avaloch” (which, by the way, Arlo was a business partner in). Last time we were in that territory that place was called “The Apple Tree Inn.” I don’t know what it is today. Last I knew, over 15 years ago, Alice had moved all the way across Massachusetts to P’town. Don’t know if she was still in the restaurant business there!

Arlo and his “brood” are still active in the area. His Guthrie Center at the old church is doing a lot of community-oriented stuff today. As far as I know, they handle their garbage in more conventional ways nowadays!

He himself lives on a farm in Washington, MA. His home in Sebastian, FL got pretty much wiped out in the hurricanes of a couple of years ago.

Read more on the Housatonic Railroad

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Cedar Hill Was Old And Huge, But It Did The Job

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.

Find out more about Cedar Hill Yard
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/cedar-hill-railroad-yard-in-new-haven/

Yes You CAN Take A TrainTo Cape Cod!

One of the most interesting locations that railroads have been built to is Cape Cod. The road that operated to CapeCod was part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford.

The railroad era came to Cape Cod in 1848 when a road was built from Middleboro on the mainland to Sandwich on the Cape. It was built primarily to serve the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company. The Cape Cod Railroad extended itself to Hyannis in 1854 and after the Civil War the Cape Cod Central Railroad went on to Orleans and Wellfleet.

Passenger service became important by the end of the 19th Century as the Cape became a resort area.

The late 1950’s saw a sharp decline in passenger travel as automobiles became more popular (the Bourne and Sagamore bridges to Cape Cod were no where as overloaded as they are today).

Tracks from Eastham to Provincetown were removed in 1960 and then cut back to South Dennis in 1966. Much of this line is a bike path.

No, you couldn’t take a train to Cape Cod for quite a while, but see 2013 story: Cape Cod is Finally Going to Town

Find out more about railroads on Cape Cod
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/railroads-to-cape-cod/

The Essex Steam Train Ride

Living in Connecticut, I had no excuse NOT to visit the Valley Railroad in Essex. Even living in upstate New York, it is a place not to miss. The big feature of the Valley Railroad is the steam train ride.

The train runs from Essex to above Deep River and then backs to Deep River where boat passengers get on and off. The former branch line runs from Old Saybrook on Long Island Sound to Middletown (you guessed it – in the middle of the state).

The train ride is not the only attraction. Essex is also the location of the Connecticut Valley Railroad Museum.

The Connecticut Valley Railroad Association was established in 1968 to operate trains powered by steam over the New Haven Railroad. It is a non-profit organization which works closely with the for-profit Valley Railroad Company which owns the abandoned New Haven Valley Branch along the Connecticut River. The museum is an all-volunteer effort while the VRR concentrates on running the steam trains (a very expensive proposition). The museum’s aim is to provide a successful interpretation of the history of New England railroading that will be the equal of the state-supported museums in Pennsylvania and California.

The original steam locomotive on the Valley was #97, a coal-fired 2-8-0 “Consolidation” built by Alco’s Cooke Works in 1923. The first owner was the Birmingham and Southeastern (an Alabama shortline). Stored from the 1950’s until 1964, #97 worked a while for the Vermont Railway before going to the steam department of the Connecticut Electric Railway. After the takeover of the former New Haven by the Penn Central, which tended to discourage steam excursions, the locomotive sat in Danbury for almost a year before being shipped to the VRR.

#40 is a 2-8-2 “Mikado” built by Alco’s Brooks Works in 1920. It was a “boomer” and worked for railroads all around the country. Purchased by the VRR in 1977, #40 is a favorite of engine crews even if not quite as economical to operate as #97. #40 is currently being overhauled.

There are several other steam locomotives on the VRR which are currently unserviceable or static displays: #3 is an 0-4-0 Fireless built by Porter in 1930. #10 is an 0-4-0 Saddle Tank built by Baldwin in 1934. This locomotive is being restored to service with funding by donations of beverage containers (for “bottle bill” refunds). #103 is a 12-6-2 “Prairie” built by Baldwin in 1925 and last run in 1975. #148 is a 4-6-2 “Pacific” built by Alco’s Richmond Works in 1920 for Florida East Coast’s passenger service. #148 switched for a sugar refinery before going to the New Hope & Ivyland. Destined for the Adirondack Railway, it finally ended up on the VRR and is stored unserviceable.

The sole electric is #300, an EF-4 3300 HP electric road freight locomotive built by GE in 1956. It was owned originally by the Virginian Railway but picked up almost new for $20,000 when the Norfolk & Western took over. When CONRAIL ceased electric freight operations in 1979, #300 became surplus. It is the sole survivor of the once-huge New Haven fleet of 125 electrics.

Numerous diesels are on the property. As you enter the parking lot, E9A #4096 is displayed in a classic New York Central “lightning stripe” color scheme. Built in 1963 for the Union Pacific, it hauled the last Union Pacific passenger run before AMTRAK. It then went to work for AMTRAK. It hauled the last Auto Train in 1981. #0401 is an FA-1 1500 HP road freight diesel built for the New Haven by Alco in 1947. There is an RS-1, 2 SW-1s, 2 RS-3s, 2 44 ton GEs, a U25B (last locomotive built for the New Haven) and an 80 ton GE owned by the Army and used by a local Army Reserve unit.

There are four self-propelled rail cars: a 1930 Brill, two 1954 Pullman M.U.s, and a 1931 Brill rail detector car (ex New York Central).

There are 33 items of passenger rolling stock. They have come from as many sources. Typical is the “Wallingford”, a parlor car built by Pullman in 1927 for the New Haven. It ran on many New Haven limiteds. Originally a 36 seat car, it was rebuilt in 1937 to a seat-parlor lounge. In 1952 it was sold to the Kansas City Southern and in the early 1960’s to the Reader Railroad in Arkansas. Several cars are in the museum or otherwise being used (office cars, storage, etc) by virtue of not being scrapped as they were in work train service at the time railroads were wholesale scrapping passenger equipment. Much of this equipment was donated by the Schiavone Scrap Yard in New Haven.

There are 18 pieces of freight equipment and 7 cabooses owned by the museum or privately owned and stored on the property.

Work equipment includes air operated side dump cars once operated by the Hartford Electric Light Company. There is a locomotive crane, snow plow and derrick car.

Read more on the Essex Steam Train
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/essex-steam-train/

Could George have saved the New Haven???

George Alpert had it right. He said that the government must be involved to save the New Haven Railroad.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, the railroad was considered old fashion and the government was putting all its monies into air and highway travel. The tendency to want to bail out a railroad was pretty low, although that did happen with the Long Island. The Long Island had the advantage of being entirely within NY State.

The trustees had to either return the railroad to profitability, palm it off on the government or other group seeking to lose money or liquidate. Yes the trustees could have pushed for government take over, but that would have been tough. Essentially 4 states would have to agree to purchase, own and operate in a climate that was still more capitalistically oriented for solutions and not enamoured with railroads.

If the liquidation route were taken, the states of Connecticut and New York might have acquired the NY City commuter routes with no interest in running freights, the P&W would have come about 4 years earlier and MAYBE the MBTA would have acquired the 3 non-Old Colony lines. I suspect that there would be shut-downs of lines like happened with the Rutland, with some routes not returning to service. If things happened quick enough, the shoreline could have been abandoned between New Haven and the Massachusetts line, not to mention others.

Perhaps there could have been operations assigned to other railroads (designated operators): B&M, CV, PC, LHR & EL. Now there’s a bunch of power houses! Everybody was in bad shape. Who would pay for DO’s and how much interest would there be?

What might have worked would have been cutting the NH into logical chunks and selling off the portions outside of the passenger mains. Package deals with the railroad, rolling stock and employees readily available. It might have been interesting. Looking at the outcome, that’s essentially what happened.

Find out more about George Alpert and the New Haven Railroad

https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/george-alpert-last-new-haven-president/

Please Check Out Our New Haven Railroad Page

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.

Check out the New Haven Railroad Page

https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/new-haven-railroad/

The Final Phase Of Reconstructing Fishkill Landing

Northbound NYC train near Fishkill Landing.

Beacon Historical Society collection

The Hudson line which became part of the NYC had been in operation for nearly 20 years when the first east-west railroad was built. The Dutchess & Columbia connected to the Hudson line at Dutchess Junction in 1868. In 1881 the NY&NE built a connecting track and ferry service at Fishkill Landing just north of Dutchess Junction. This NYC train is along the shore of the Hudson River between those two points. Fishkill Landing became part of Beacon in 1913.

Find out more on Fishkill Landing history

https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/the-final-phase-of-the-nyc-rebuilding-at-fishkill-landing/

The Second Phase Of Reconstruction Is Progressing

Beacon Historical Society collection

On a sunny day in November 1915 the CNE tracks to the station are being built. At lower left you can see the extension of the CNE tracks from the old yard area.

At far left there is activity in the old NY&NE yard now occupied by the CNE. There was no more car ferry service but there was a dock for river boats and barges.

Read all about the new station at Fishkill Landing
https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/the-second-phase-of-the-nyc-rebuilding-at-fishkill-landing/