The Housatonic Railroad between Connecticut and Massachusetts
This is all about the railroad from Western Connecticut to Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It was owned by the New Haven Railroad and is still surviving.
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.
New Haven colors on Metro North
Thanks to Wayne Koch for this picture. See more about Metro North Railroad
On passenger trains, railroads operated lots of equipment other than sleepers, coaches, dining cars, etc. This equipment was generally called ‘head-end’ equipment, these ‘freight’ cars were at one time plentiful and highly profitable for the railroads. In the heyday of passenger service, these industries were a big part of the railroad’s operations, and got serious attention.
South Norwalk Station and old signal tower
SIGNAL STATIONS ON THE NEW HAVEN RAILROAD
|West only: Connecticut and New York|
Shoreline, NY Connecting
|SS 1||Harlem River|
|SS 2||Woodside||(also known as Cabin 2 Bowery Bay)|
|SS 3||Bungay Street||(E 149th St.)|
|SS 4||Oak Point|
|SS 7||Bronx River DB|
|SS 8||West Farms Jct.|
|SS 12||Westchester Yard|
|SS 14||Pelham Bay DB|
|SS 20||South Mt. Vernon|
|SS 21||Mt. Vernon|
|SS 22||New Rochelle Jct.|
|SS 23||New Rochelle Yard|
|XX||Larchmont Jct.||(NYW&B Tower)|
|SS 27||East Port Chester|
|SS 28||28 Greenwich|
|SS 29||Cos Cob DB|
|SS 59||Sound Beach||Stamford Old system numbering|
|SS sm||Stamford (West of Station.)||Stamford Old system numbering|
|SS 38||Stamford (East of Station.)||Stamford Old system numbering|
|SS 40||Darien (Closed 1940)||(Closed 1940)|
|SS 43||Wilson PT. Jct.|
|SS 44||South Norwalk|
|SS 45||Norwalk River DB.|
|SS 52||Westport DB.|
|SS 53||Greens Farms|
|SS 55||Burr Road||Bridgeport|
|SS 57||South Ave. Lower Yard||Bridgeport|
|SS 58||State Street||Bridgeport|
|SS 59||Fairfield Ave.||Bridgeport|
|SS 60||Bridgeport DB.||Bridgeport|
|SS 61||Noble Avenue||Bridgeport|
|SS 62||Central Avenue||Bridgeport|
|SS 63||Bishop Avenue||Bridgeport|
|SS 70||River Road||Stratford|
|SS 74||West Haven|
|SS 75||New Haven||(Old and New Towers)|
|SS 76||New Haven Station||(East End)|
|SS 77||Water Street||New Haven|
|SS 78||Fair Street||New Haven|
|SS 79||Mill River||New Haven|
|SS 80||Air Line Jct.|
|SS 81||Shore Line Jct.|
Shoreline: East Haven to Rhode Island State Line
|SS 85||East Haven|
|SS 86||Lake Saltonstall|
|SS 90||Stony Creek|
|SS 91||Leetes Island|
|SS 93||East River|
|SS 102||Saybrook Jct.|
|SS 103||Connecticut River DB.||West End|
|SS 104||Connecticut River DB.||East End|
|SS 107||East Lyme|
|SS 108||Niantic River DB.|
|SS 111||East Neck Road|
|SS 112||Fort Yard|
|SS 113||New London|
|SS 116||Thames River DB.|
|SS 121||Midway Jct.|
|SS 122||Mystic River DB.|
|SS 193||Poughkeepsie Bridge West End|
|SS 194||Poughkeepsie Bridge East End|
|SS 195||Poughkeepsie Junction|
|SS 196||Hopewell Junction|
|SS 198||Danbury Yard|
|SS 199||Berkshire Junction|
|SS 200||Hawleyville Junction|
South Norwalk to Pittsfield
Putnam to Devon
|SS 202||Bank Street Junction|
|SS 204||Highland Junction|
|SS 213||Main Street||Hartford|
|SS 214||Avon Street||Hartford|
|SS 217||East Hartford|
Old Saybrook and Hartford
|SS F280||Middletown DB|
|SS F281||Bridge Street|
South Worcester and Groton
Stepney and Botsford
|SS B253||Derby Jct|
|SS C265||Chase Brass Co.||Waterbury|
|SS G290||Cedar Hill Yard|
New Haven Railroad
Speeds and Trackage Rights
With the advent of “Acela”, there is a lot of interest in speeds on the New Haven from New York to Boston. The 1955 ETT showed the following:
· NY Connecting RR 70 mph
· Woodlawn to Branford 70 mph
· Branford to Old Saybrook 79 mph
· Old Saybrook to Stonington 70 mph
· Stonington to Readville 79 mph
· About 50 speed restrictions (example 30 and 45 on the curves in Bridgeport)
There was one stretch for a while with a speed limit over 79 for the Turbo, that was Boston Switch (north of Pawtucket/ Central Falls) to SS185 (Chickering tower near Mass. Ave. Boston). The Turbo was allowed special high speeds for a while, over 100mph. In Andrew J. Pavlucik’s book, “The New Haven Railroad – A Fond Look Back,” (Pershing Press, 1978), an article on I-5 Shoreliners makes mention of them doing 100 mph in the late 1930s and 1940s between Kingston and Boston. Of course, they were breaking the speed limit (but they were making up lost time). They didn’t have recording speedometers installed. Today, with welded rail on the entire stretch (which NH did not have) Metro-North has many stretches of 80 mph operation. Inexplicably, MN also has many more speed restrictions than NH ever did, e.g., on all the drawbridges — the very same bridges on which NH had no speed restrictions. The speeds on the drawbridges are about 50. “Age of the bridges” is certainly a plausible reason. Those bridges were built when the line was four-tracked between 1895 and 1897! An October 12, 1999 story in USA Today talked about Acela running at 168 M.P.H. on the racetrack west of Providence.
Shown below are some of the trackage rights which the New Haven had:
· New Haven’s entrance into New York City, with overhead, passenger-only rights on the New York Central from Woodlawn Junction to Grand Central Terminal.
· Passenger-only rights over the LIRR & PRR from Harold to Pennsylvania Station.
· Freight-only overhead (i.e., no stopping en route) rights over the LIRR from Fremont to Bay Ridge.
· Rights over the NYC/B&A from Springfield to Armory.
· A short section of track used by both the New Haven and the NYC/B&A in Framingham, MA. The New Havens’ North Yard was on the north side of the B&A while the line to Walpole, Mansfield, etc. was on the south side. Simple enough you say, but they are not directly opposite each other and the trip from one to the other was made over about a quarter mile of the B&A.
GE Facility in Bridgeport and the old Housatonic Branch
Recently, I decided to take a look at the General Electric facility off Route 1 in Bridgeport. The building looks to be in great shape and there are security guards on the property. The tracks going to the powerhouse are still intact. It has a very interesting design. The building was originally built to make ammo, which is why the building is such an unusual shape. If part of the building blew up, it would be easier to contain a fire. Conclusion: the line is disconnected from the main. The complex was the original Remington Arms factory. GE took it over when Remington needed more space and built/moved to bigger facilities nearby. The plant was served by the Seaview Avenue spur that used to connect to the main opposite the east end of the East Bridgeport yard (Bishop Avenue tower, now gone). I decided to see if the tracks were still connected to the main line. What a mistake! The tracks are paved over on some of the cross streets but I ended up getting lost. The former Bridgeport Works switcher (45 tonner) went to the Railroad Museum of New England and then to Old Colony & Newport in Rhode Island.
North Avenue/Lindley Street
In mid-1980’s I recall seeing a gon/box on the siding next to the factories below North Ave (Lindley St area). This is south of the ex-HRR coal towers, now painted green and marked “HiHo”. The rails submerged into the dirt just before they reached North Ave. In the early 1990’s the switch from mainline Track 3 to the spur [at the old Bridgeport station site] was cut out and never restored. Nor did it need to be, as all the factories went out of business [or at least stopped using rail service]. In the last several years the long viaduct going north from Bridgeport railroad station was torn down. Otherwise the track still sat there (north of the viaduct to North Avenue) until recently. There were numerous industrial spurs off this line. I did catch a photo of a Penn-Central freight one day back when PC was alive. The Connecticut Post had an article which indicated that the viaduct was being removed for a “Rails-to-Trails” project.
Right Of Way to Newtown
This ROW was quite intact all the way to Newtown except for segmenting by Route 8/25 north of North Avenue. ROW existed to the bridge over the Merritt Parkway. North of the parkway except for a short section in Trumbull was always part of plans for a rail-trail plan. Over the years nothing happened except sections from Newtown south are preserved now. Sections of that ROW were removed for various sections of 25/8, but as of 1984 or 1985 there was a fairly long section preserved as a trail extending north roughly from the intersection of White Plains Road and Daniels Farm Road in Trumbull (I even found a spike there). The ROW in Trumbull is open starting around the intersection of White Plains Road and Daniels Farm Road and continues up through Monroe almost to Botsford. The Stepney freight station is still intact and used by a business. The rail trail north from White Plains/Daniels Farm isn’t continuous up to Stepney. The ROW is bisected by about 6′ of fill for the Rte 25 expressway just north of the Parlor Rock amusement park site in the Pequonnock Valley preserve. From here north to Purdy Hill Rd in Stepney, the ROW is private property and is still in its “natural state” (ie, heavily overgrown). North of Purdy Hill the ROW serves as the vehicular entrance to Great Hollow Lake town park, then is a dirt trail all the way up to the Newtown border. The improved trail falls short of reaching active [Housatonic RR] rails in Botsford by about 3/4 mile, as the trail work was only funded by the town of Monroe.
Housatonic South of Bridgeport Station
As to the Housatonic RR south of Bridgeport station. About the same fate as north. There were numerous industrial spurs and a little freight yard in area of electric generating plant on the harbor. This got zapped by the new Baseball Stadium.
The Bridge to Nowhere
This is this the line whose bridge over the Merritt Parkway at Route 8 is still intact. The bridge was built 6 months before the line was abandoned (Bridgeport to Stepney) in 1937. That bridge never saw one day of revenue rail service! It was converted into a narrow, 1-lane bridge for a little-used road. When the Merritt/25 interchange was constructed in late 1970’s, this road was abandoned and obliterated by the major landscape changes necessary for the interchange. The bridge stands alone now, completely isolated at both approaches from any connections. Someone must have successfully argued for its preservation prior to the interchange construction, as its presence [especially its relatively low overhead clearance] must have been something of an obstacle.
As of present era there is NO rail freight in Bridgeport..right? Observing things it would appear somebody decided Bridgeport should have no evidence of any railroads left–at least a good job at cleaning up any evidence. ALL freight operations were handled by the New Haven. However, some of the large factory complexes had their own little industrial switcher, but it would never leave the property.
The GE/Remington spur was connected to the mainline via the ramp which is 1/2 a block west of Seaview Avenue. There is still the remnants of a siding along Crescent Avenue of the Seaview Ave RR in front of Magnetec.
Bridgeport Station Area
There was the lower section of the old Housatonic RR., south of the RR Station all is gone now by virtue of a baseball stadium. Years ago there were numerous industries in the area recieving freight service. Where Harbor Yard Stadium is, was Jenkins Valve. A rail yard was on the Long Island Sound side, and a small industrial track ran around the inside of the curve.
North of the RR Station all is GONE? Whats left is now a paved bike trail that stops at the old Hi-Ho towers.
Even Fairfield had its spur tracks for Bullards and Rockwell. There was a track going to where the Home Depot is now that served McKesson Chemical. Before Fairfield Lumber died they built an ‘unloading facility’ by the north railroad station but there used to be tracks on the south and by appearance actually going to the place. I think there were some other spurs in central Fairfield; probably to Exide.
A spur served Henry Bresky Fine Foods on State St Extension now called Commerce Drive. They were getting rail cars as late as the mid eighties. The two tracks are still there but with no connection to the main. Tracks went to Major Tire. They closed down about three-four years ago. The tracks passed in the back of their building but went on to Henry Bresky’s Fine Foods.
Recycling Plant Area
There were a few tracks to be seen but along Railroad Avenue probably all gone with the I-95 construction. I recall a lumber outfit here with freight service.10 years ago? Yes…the tracks still come down to the Recycling place but its segmented up on Metro-North and most everything gone now or paved over. With the heavy I-95 construction now I just guess all evidence will be gone upcoming.
Bridgeport Machine Co
Baseball in Bridgeport
The Ballpark at Harbor Yard, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, sits on eighteen acres carved out of “an otherwise impaired urban area,” as the Bluefish program so delicately puts it. Its commercial-free name underlines its proximity to both the old city’s deep harbor, and the adjacent railway. Trains passing behind and above the outfield wall on the New Haven Line are greeted by waving, cheering fans, and engineers reply with an approving whistle blast. The train’s toot wins a free fare for a lucky fan
NH / NYC Interchange at Pittsfield
The New Haven and New York Central interchanged cars daily at State Line until 1959 when this operation was moved to Pittsfield. New Haven’s State Line branch opened in 1843. The last passenger train 1928. State Line to West Stockbridge (2.6 miles) was abandoned in 1961. West Stockbridge to Rising (6.7 miles) was abandoned in 1964. Track removal was between June and Sept 1964. The transfer worked as follows: A Cedar Hill to Maybrook freight dropped off cars at Danbury A Danbury to Pittsfield train brought those cars to State Line for transfer to the NYC. A NH Pittsfield to Danbury train would take the cars received from the NYC and bring them to Danbury where NH freight Maybrook to Cedar Hill would take the cars to Cedar Hill. After State Line was closed, a local out of Danbury would run up to Canaan or a little further north, and swap cars with the local out of Pittsfield. In the early 1950’s there were 2 road switching jobs out of State Line that left with only a small time difference. Both of these went to Pittsfield during their runs. The State Line interchange had a few changes over time. In the 1930s and 40s it handled quite a bit of coal which came off the NYC from Pennsylvania mines (Clearfield, etc.. This went to Bridgeport, Danbury area, etc. For years this interchange handled traffic for the mainline around Bridgeport, the Berkshire Line, Danbury Branch, Maybrook line, the Derby area and Waterbury. After the 1955 flood the Waterbury area traffic including possibly Derby was rerouted to Springfield because the Naugy was out of service for awhile. This traffic was never restored to State Line.
Railroads to Winsted Connecticut
The Central New England 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.
SS198 in Danbury Yard
Remaining Signal Stations in New York State
NASSAU, Mineola – LIRR
DIVIDE – LIRR
DUNTON, Queens – LIRR
HALL, Queens – LIRR
JAY, Queens – LIRR
BABYLON, Suffolk – LIRR
VALLEY, Nassau – LIRR
B Tower, Bethpage, LIRR
Ashford Jct. – BPRR (BR&P)
EL2, North Tonawanda – Erie
LAB, Livingston Avenue Bridge, Albany – CSX (NYC)
Tower D, Lackawanna – South Buffalo Ry.
XO, Mechanicville – CP (D&H)
Johnsonville – CP (D&H)
Q Tower, Sunnyside, Queens – Amtrak (PRR)
Fresh Pond – NY&A (LIRR)
DV, Spuyten Duyvil – MN (NYC)
CD, Croton-Harmon – MN (NYC)
OW, Tarrytown – MN (NYC)
SHELL, New Rochelle – MN (NH)
PIKE, Rye – MN (NH)
At GCT Towers A , B , C
The North White PLains Tower at C P 124 used as a hq for the power dept.