Category Archives: New Haven RR

The New Haven and the Military

In Weymouth along the Greenbush there was the Naval Ammunition Depot, its annex in Hingham, and the Bethlehem Steel shipyard in Hingham. The Bethlehem Steel shipyard in Quincy. In Hull there was Ft. Revere and supposedly some 16″ guns brought into Hull via rail during WW2. In South Weymouth the Plymouth line’s tracks pass right by the rear gate of NAS South Weymouth. Of course Camp Edwards on the Cape interacted with the NH. I’m curious about all aspects of the NH’s interaction with all military sites in its service area, small installations or large: NAS Cherry Point, RI, Westover AFB in Springfield, National Guard units, Groton, Submarine base, CT, Boston Navy Yard?

The New Haven had a switching yard (totalling about ten miles of track) at Camp Myles Standish. The New Haven was responsible for troop train movements and freight/supply for the camp. None of the yard remains as of today, although the ROW from Taunton to Mansfield can still be explored (one cannot get across Rte 495, however). Camp Miles Standish was a major staging area for the Boston Port of Embarkation in Boston Harbor. Camp Miles Standish was just one of many Army bases located in the Boston area. A Port of Embarkation was a place where troops were actually put on board troop ships and sent off to the war zones. On the New Haven side, the actual Port of Embarkation was the Boston Army Base on the South Boston waterfront. This was served by “Government Yard” which was adjacent to Commonwealth Pier and the Boston Fish Pier. Boston Navy Yard (Charlestown) was on the B&M side of the river. The NH did serve the Military RR in the Quonset point Fleet docks,and the Davisville RI. complex where the Groundpounders were.

There is substantially more to see, from a railroad perspective, at the old Hingham Ammunition Depot annex in Hingham, MA. Known as Wampatuck State Park today, the tracks leading into the Hingham Ammunition Depot annex were refurbished sometime during the 1960s in anticipation of processing rail shipment during the Vietnam War, which apparently never happened. The tracks leading into this facility cross Route 3A near the Hingham/Scituate line and if you walk about a mile into the woods along the tracks you’ll find plenty of tracks and plenty of structures from WW2.

Most of this discussion so far has involved WW II.There are two other aspects — first the NH sponsorship of two military railway reserve outfits, the 729th Railway Operating Battalion and the 749th Railway Operating Battalion in WW II. The 729th served in Europe. The 749th served in the Philippines. The 729th was reorganized, again with NH sponsorship postwar, and served in the Korean War. The 729th was the predecessor unit of the present 1205th railway unit of the Army Reserve.

From: The New Haven and the Military


Eversource Request for License for Overhead Wires along Metro-North

The CT Dept of Transportation has decided not to issue a license that would allow Eversource to install overhead transmission lines along Metro-North Railroad corridor.
The decision was announced in a statement Tuesday by Peter Tesei, who said he was satisfied with the decision and that the need for the transmission lines had yet to be fully documented and “would disrupt continued daily operation of one of the region’s busiest transit hubs.”

The Ride To Choate

Edgar T. Mead recently published a fantastic article in the NRHS BULLETIN on a train trip from New York City to Choate School which is located in Wallingford, CT. I’d like to update his trip into the 1980’s and bring out what we have lost or gained over 50 years.

Unless the student of today wants to find alternate transportation from New Haven to Wallingford, he/she (Choate is now Choate-Rosemary Hall and is coed) cannot leave Grand Central Terminal, but must instead depart Penn Station on AMTRAK’s Springfield Service.

The EP-2 boxcab electric has been replaced by an AEM-7 which is the standard in the Northeast Corridor. The “American Flyer” coaches have been replaced by Amfleet coaches.

Although we don’t go that route, Grand Central to New Rochelle has changed too. The S-1 electric switchers came very close to remaining in the picture as the last one didn’t exit the property until the 1980’s.

NY,Westchester & Boston right-of-way between New Rochelle and Port Chester becomes less visible as time marches on. Also less visible are industries like the Abendroth Foundry. As a matter of fact, most signs of the electrification which one covered all of the sidings are rapidly fading. Even the sidings themselves are fading as the character of the territory becomes less commercial and more residential and service-oriented.

Stamford, with its office towers and new station, would be unrecognizable to someone not having seen it in 50 years. However, long lines of M-2 “Cosmopolitan” cars are lined up waiting for Monday just like the old M-Us did. Today’s wire train can be spotted sometimes at Stamford and is hauled by a GE. It includes the “Washboard Electrics” of 1954.

Bridgeport is still an important stop. The “Blue Goose” which used to run to Waterbury has been replaced with a Budd Rail Diesel Car. Sometimes even that is replaced with a bus. Signs of trolley lines and steam dinkies are obliterated.

The Maybrook line is now only a memory since the Poughkeepsie bridge has burned and the Derby-Shelton bridge has fallen in the river. The truth of the matter is that CONRAIL has other routes available. Freight in general is a ghost of its former self while the passenger business is a growth industry between New Haven and New York.

An engine change at New Haven is still the order of the day for AMTRAK. No more I-4. Instead a single F40 can handle the consist. The dug-away cut through New Haven (old Farmington Canal) still exists. The Connecticut Company is bus not street car. There is no sandwich vendor meeting trains a New Haven, however a respectable donut shop exists inside the station.

Smoking cars still exist on AMTRAK but not so on Metro-North. The solid example which Choate set 50 years ago is now applied to New Haven, Westchester and Long Island commuters.

The changes that have occurred on the mainline are nothing compared to what has happened on the branch lines. The annual football junket to Kent School would be in a lot of trouble because of the sorry state of the Housatonic branch between New Milford and Kent. To begin with, the excursion would have to go south to Norwalk first as the route through Devon Junction is out of service at the Derby bridge Perhaps it would be simpler to go through Pittsfield? Maybe they could just take a bus or watch the game on TV?

Cedar Hill yard still exists (sort of). One old roundhouse still stands as well as a coal tower. The yard is filled with coal hoppers, many still marked for Erie-Lackawanna. Also stored in the yard are the “Roger Williams” RDCs.

Wallingford still looks like it did fifty years ago. The station looks like it should be on a postcard.

Find stories like this one.

Many Opponents to AMTRAK Scheme To Bypass Southeastern Connecticut Towns

Opposition to the proposed Amtrak bypass through southeastern Connecticut is more than bipartisan: It has become multi-partisan.

A recent statement warning that bullet-train tracks would erode New London’s tax base and damage historic sites was co-signed by the leaders of New London’s Republican, Democratic and Green parties.

“It is rare that political parties reach consensus on an issue, but on this we are united,” says their letter to federal railroad regulators.

For the past year and a half, the Amtrak bypass idea has been creating uncommon alliances throughout the region. Business leaders stand alongside environmentalists in fighting it, and politically conservative and liberal homeowners alike are pressing regulators to scuttle the plan.

It is a really “knock down and drag them out” battle. AMTRAK and the Federal Rail Admintration have spent all kinds of money. They keep talking about not “destroying historic towns”. Everybody wants to go to court.

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder sent the FRA more than 65 pages of reasons to kill the idea, all heavily laden with foot notes on relevant federal regulations. The CT Trust for Historic Preservation’s own letter cited an extensive number of legal cases.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday that he urged new Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to start a fresh review of the proposal. He has called it a “half-baked” waste of planning money that should have been used elsewhere.

I can stand back and be neutral. My feeling is the whole stupid battle is about BRIDGES.

There are eight very huge, moveable (can go up and down) bridges on the shoreline in Connecticut. AMTRAK uses all while the four bridges at the Western end are also used by commuters to New York City. The West End carries more passengers to NY City than AMTRAK ever dreamed of.

Connecticut Department of Transportation has “stepped up to the bar” on these. The other four at the East End are clearly in the hands of AMTRAK. These bridges were all built by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company in the late 19th Century to early 20th Century

Connecticut’s WALK BRIDGE: Save It, Replace It or Reuse Parts?

A lot of more than just local interest in the “WALK BRIDGE” in Norwalk, Connecticut. The Metro-North Railroad Walk Bridge in Norwalk, Conn. Some Norwalk officials are calling for the Connecticut Department of Transportation to replace the Walk Bridge with an ‘iconic’ structure and some residents will likely miss the existing 120-year-old bridge. The Norwalk Preservation Trust states that the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places and if the state must replace the bridge it should fully fund a Norwalk Historical Society Museum exhibit on the bridge and railroad.

This bridge carries not only dozens of Metro-North commuter trains, but also vital to AMTRAKs NorthEast Corridor between Boston and Washington, DC.

As the state gears up to replace the Walk Bridge, sentimentality is growing among local people over the iconic structure that has marked Norwalk’s skyline for 120 years.
“The loss of the existing bridge, its catenaries and high towers, as well as its brownstone structural elements would forever change the character of the area,” wrote the Norwalk Preservation Trust in its response to the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s report on the project. “We respectfully request that the repair and retention of the existing bridge be given further study in the hopes that demolition can be avoided.”

If the railroad bridge and its “associated elements must be demolished,” the NPT wants the DOT take a number of mitigation measures such as leaving the historic granite or brownstone abutments in place, or reusing them as part of the new bridge.

When built in 1896, the bridge was both state-of-the-art and also the last of its breed.
“In its wide proportions and heavy steel construction, the Norwalk bridge exemplifies the railroad swing bridge at its height of development: after the mid- 1890s, nearly all movable bridges were bascules of one type or another,” reads a portion of the nomination report that landed the bridge on the register.

Dick Carpenter of East Norwalk, author of “A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946,” said the Walk Bridge is the only four-track swing bridge that he knows of on a major rail line in the nation. That and its age are its distinguishing characteristics, he said

DOT, after considering more than 70 design concepts, ruled out repairing the existing bridge or replacing it with a fixed-bridge. The state’s preferred replacement is a 240-foot vertical lift bridge that would cost $425 million to $460 million to build. Work is slated to start in mid-2018.

“We are aware of numerous other century old bridges across the country that have been repaired and maintained and are expected to last for another century and beyond, such as the Williamsburg Bridge in New York,”

Hell Gate Bridge Centennial

When the Hell Gate Bridge was completed in September 1916 it was the longest steel-arch bridge in the world. Its construction, using more steel than the Manhattan and Queensboro Bridges combined, began in 1912.

Antonio Meloni, a member of Community Board 1 and Director of the New York Anti-Crime Agency, speaking at the April 26 meeting of the 114th Precinct Community Council, is seeking to engage the community in the upcoming centennial of the Hell Gate Bridge.

“It’s a landmark, we grew up with it (and) we should adopt it as our own,” Meloni said.

The bridge crosses Hell Gate, a strait in the East River, between Astoria and Randalls and Wards Islands.

Dedicated and officially opened to rail traffic on March 9, 1917, the first direct rail service between Washington D.C. and Boston Massachusetts was established when a Pennsylvania Railroad train went over the bridge about a month later on April 1.

A series of possible celebrations, including fireworks, historical tours, a badly needed paint job, and lighting are among the ways the Hell Gate centennial could be marked said Meloni.

“We’re trying to involve Amtrak,” he said.

The Hell Gate Bridge is owned and maintained by Amtrak and still has the 17th longest main steel arch span in the world. It is an essential part of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor (NEC) rail network.

Amtrak, or the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, was founded in 1971 to take over intercity passenger rail service that had been previously operated by private railroads.

The NEC, 80 percent of which is owned and/or maintained by Amtrak, is the busiest passenger railroad network in the United States and its mainline between Boston Massachusetts and Washington D.C. carries more than 700,000 commuter rail and 40,000 Amtrak trips each day into and out of several large economic markets.

The Hell Gate carries Amtrak NEC trains on its two south tracks and CSX and Norfolk Southern freight trains on its north inner track. The north outer track is not in operation.

Penn Station Access, a projected $695 million project in Amtrak’s fiscal 2017- 2021 budget, would use the Hell Gate Bridge to connect the New Haven Line to Penn Station.

Gustave Lindenthal, also involved in the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge and construction of the Manhattan Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge, developed plans for the Pennsylvania Railroad in 1892 as a way to bring rail traffic from Pennsylvania Railroad routes in New Jersey through New York City to New England.

The Pennsylvania Railroad bridge project, originally called, The East River Arch Bridge, chose Lindenthal as consulting engineer and bridge architect in 1904 for the eventual Hell Gate Bridge.


Walk Bridge Failure Causes Railroad Delays

A mechanical failure left the Walk Bridge in Norwalk stuck open for hours and caused major delays for trains moving through the area, according to Metro-North and Amtrak.

Norwalk police say the drawbridge was stuck in an open position around 3 p.m. causing significant delays on Metro-North’s New Haven Line and slowing Amtrak trains between New York and New Haven. As of 5 p.m. the railroads had restored limited service, but significant delays of up to 90 minutes continued.

Around 10:30 p.m. Metro-North reported that train service had resumed to three of the four tracks over the Walk Bridge and delays were only expected to be around 20 minutes. Sunday service is expected to run on schedule.

This is not the first time a failure of the Walk Bridge caused issues for riders. In 2014 Gov. Dannel Malloy called a “crisis summit” after multiple service disruptions left commuters delayed for hours. After that, experts began formulating solutions to repair and eventually replace the bridge.

Jenkins Curve in Bridgeport in 1966.

A pair of EF-4s heads west around Jenkins Curve in Bridgeport in 1966. Next stop. . .LIRR’s Bay Ridge Yard.

Model by Rick Abramson

Summer, 1966.  The Long Island Rail Road was busy reballasting a lot of track.  All the ballast originated at the New Haven Traprock quarry in Branford, handed off to the New Haven from the Branford Steam Railroad at Pine Orchard.  Shipped in 125-car lots, the trains consisted of New Haven’s 70-ton quad-hoppers filled to the max (meaning halfway).  These were “DO NOT STOP” trains, with the dispatcher closely monitoring their movement all the way.  I suspect that at least one passenger job may have been inconvenienced by these trains.

At S.S. 4 we were given a heads-up when they were crossing over at Pelham Bay, and the dispatcher called both S.S. 4 and S.S. 3 to make sure the train had a clear, unobstructed shot for Hell Gate Bridge.  And we had to call back, confirming that the signals were cleared off.  Then she came rolling through at 45 m.p.h.  You could feel how heavy the train was, but the two EF-4s made it appear easy.

Once she cleared off the model board, a sigh of relief followed, preceded, of course, by an OS to the West End dispatcher.

I don’t think you could do such a thing nowadays.  But, that’s progress, I think.

Question on New Haven wreck cranes?

The big New Haven Railroad cranes were built by Industrial Brownhoist. They were actually locomotive cranes (ie self-propelled). They were all black; cabs, and the “car” the cabs were mounted on. The 3 cranes were D-100: located at  New Haven, D-101: located at Providence, D-102: located at Oak Point.

Any movement of the 230-ton crane under its own power would generally be for the immediate area only.  When towed to and from wherever, its maximum speed was 25 m.p.h.

Keep in mind that these big cranes had numerous restrictions on where they could not operate.

Extracted from Time Table No. 6, effective 2.01 A.M., Sunday, October 26, 1958:

Maximum Speed for Particular Equipment
All derricks – 25 M.P.H.
Additional restrictions for Derricks D100, D101 and D102 are as follows:

  • When in transit, smokestack and auxiliary cab light must be removed.
  • One car to be placed between derrick and engine handling train.
  • Oak Point – Must not be operated beyond shore line at float bridges.
  • South Mt. Vernon – Must not be operated through third rail shoe rake-off blocks 940 feet west of S.S. 20.  If required to go beyond this point, rake-off blocks must be removed temporarily.
  • New Rochelle Yard – Must not operate on yard lead track across Cedar Street Bridge No. 5.05, 1970 feet east of New Rochelle station.
  • Port Chester – Must not exceed 10 M.P.H. at Bridge 13.75, King Street, first underpass east of passenger station.
  • Stamford – Must not exceed 10 M.P.H. at Bridge 20.86, Greenwich Avenue, first underpass entering Stamford from the west.
  • Bridgeport – Must not exceed 10 M.P.H. between Burr Road, S.S. 55, and East Bridgeport, S.S. 63.  Must not operate on Old Botsford Main north of Congress St., Bridge No. 0.26 first underpass north of passenger station.
  • Branchville and Ridgefield – Must not be operated.
  • Must not be operated between (Dike St.) Olneyville and Pascoag; East Providence and Bristol; River Point and Arkwright (Woonsocket – Winter St. yard and Slatersville and Hamlet Branch); Groton Old Main; Norwich C.V. connection.  Must not exceed 10 M.P.H. between Norwood Central and Valley Falls, and over Shaws Cove drawbridge.
  • Must not be operated between:
  •     Boston and Back Bay
  •     Boston Terminal and South Bay Jct.
  •     South Bay Jct. and Braintree
  •     Neponset and Milton
  •     Braintree and West Quincy
  •     Matfield and West Bridgewater
  •     Westdale and East Bridgewater
  •     Forest Hills and West Roxbury
  •     Readville and Dedham
  •     Weir Jct. and Dean Street
  •     New Bedford and Watuppa
  •     Franklin Jct. and Milford
  •     Medway and Woodside
  •     Lancaster Branch
  •     Framingham – Prison Branch
  • Must not exceed 10 M.P.H. between Canton Jct. and Canton, Buzzards Bay and Woods Hole, Braintree Highlands and Randolph.

Cranes D-100 to D 102 weighed more than an I-5 4-6-4 Hudson —  In working order with coal and water they weighed 379,000 lbs. vs 365,300 lbs for an I-5 in working order without a tender.  The weight on each I-5 driver was 64,300 lbs.only slightly more than the 63,400 lbs on each axle of the front crane truck.  Is there any wonder there were restrictions.

Readers might be interested to know that the New Haven used the terms Derrick and Crane interchangeably.  For example, in the Mechanical Department diagrams D-100 to D-102 are called 230 Ton Capacity Steam Locomotive Cranes while the 150 Ton Capacity D-3 to D-6 diesel powered units are called Wrecking Derricks even though all have similar booms and operated similarly (D-3 was not self-propelled).  There was also the H series (H-47 to H-57) which stoood for Hoist (built by American Hoist and Derrick Co.) which were labeled Loco Cranes.  Webster’s dictionary isn’t much help in identifying the difference between Derrick and Crane but Webster says Derrick originated with the name of an 18th century English hangman — derrick is an obsolete term for hangman or gallows.

And a Crane is a wading bird with long legs.”
 – So does that mean a “Loco Crane” is one that has mental health issues?