Farmington Canal Heritage Trail
The trail was built on former New Haven and Northampton Company (NH&N) (later New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad [NH]) railbed, which was constructed along the route of the Farmington Canal in Connecticut and the Hampshire and Hampden Canal in Massachusetts, respectively.
In 1821, a group of New Haven businessmen convened to construct a canal in Connecticut much like the Erie Canal that had just been completed in New York. It took ten years to complete and was open for use in 1835. Twelve years later, rail became the more cost efficient transportation option and facilitator of trade. A rail bed was put down to follow the same route that the canal had.
The line changed hands throughout its lifetime, from the NH&N, NH, Penn Central, Conrail, and finally Guilford, who abandoned the line in segments throughout the 1980s. The Connecticut Department of Transportation purchased most of the line from Guilford for railbanking purposes. In 1991, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) provided states the ability to utilize federal funds to finance the conversion of derelict railroad corridors into rail trails.
Portions of the original canal still exist, such as an historic "lock house" dating from the time of the original canal, as well as retaining walls, canal locks (elevators for boats), old sections of canal, and other features. In Cheshire, Connecticut, the only restored lock along the original Canal line has been incorporated into the Lock 12 Historical Park.
The route of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is not yet completed (85% in Connecticut, 63% in Massachusetts). The trail is divided into three sections:
- southern: New Haven-Plainville, Connecticut
- middle: Farmington-Suffield, Connecticut
- northern: Southwick, Massachusetts-Northampton, Massachusetts (In Southwick, the trail is known as the Southwick Rail Trail; in Westfield, it is known as the Columbia Heritage Rail Trail.)
As of October 2018, one continuous section runs from Yale University to Lazy Lane in Southington, a distance of 25 miles. The northern part of Southington is being designed for construction up to Town Line Road in 2019. The last gap is the northern section of 5.3 miles through Plainville.
As of October 2018, the trail extends uninterrupted from Northwest Drive in Northern Plainville to the Massachusetts border in Suffield, 24.6 miles.
As of October 2018, the Southwick rail trail in Massachusetts in complete, while the trail in Westfield is complete to Main Street, totaling 8.5 miles. There is a gap extending from north of Westfield Center through Southampton of 8.4 miles. The rest of the trail is complete through Easthampton into Northampton 7.3 miles.
Farmington Canal State Park Trail
Farmington Canal State Park Trail forms a portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in the towns of Cheshire and Hamden. The site of the greenway was originally used by the native Quinnipiac tribes as a path prior to its expansion as a road by the colonists. A canal construction project began on July 4, 1825, with the first sections opening in 1828. On June 22, 1836, the Farmington and Hampshire companies were in debt and transferred their ownership to New Haven-Northampton Company, resulting in a loss of more than $1 million in investor capital. In 1847, investors in the company petitioned the state for the right to build a railroad. The approved railroad was constructed in one year on the banks of the canal for a total cost of $186,000.33. Rail service lasted until the 1980s, when Guilford discontinued service. The Farmington Valley Trails Council was founded in 1992 to preserve the canal by converting it into a park. Part of the Farmington Canal State Park trail was dedicated May 22, 1994. Located on North Brooksvale road is Lock 12 Historical Park, a restored canal lock and museum dubbed the "best-preserved relic of Connecticut's canal era." The developed section within state park boundaries runs 17.7 miles (28.5 km) south from Hart Street in Southington to Todd Street in Hamden and includes the Farmington Canal's restored Lock 12, located south of Brooksvale Road in Cheshire.
This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience.(July 2017)
|MA||Hampden||Westfield||US 20||Northern Terminus|
|E. Silver St.||overpass|
|S. Meadow Rd.|
|Little River||river crossing|
|Southwick||Sam West Rd.|
|Feeding Hills Rd.|
|Point Grove Rd.||underpass|
|East Granby||Copper Hills Rd.|
|East Granby||Lordship Rd.|
|Iron Horse Blvd.|
|Jim Gallagher Way||overlap|
|CT 10/ US 202|
|Old Canal Way|
|CT 10/ US 202|
|Avon||Mountain View Ave.|
|CT 10/ US 202|
|Climax Heights Rd.|
|Country Club Rd.|
|Farmington River||river crossing|
|Red Oak Hill Rd.|
|New Britain Ave.|
|Scott Swamp Rd. US 6|
Gap between Plainville and Southington
|Hart St. / Curtiss St.|
|W. Center St./
|E. Summer St.|
|W. Main St.|
|Exit 29 Ramps||freeway underpass|
|West Main St.CT-68|
|Lock 12||old canal lock|
|S. Brooksvale Rd.|
|Mt. Sanford Rd.|
|W. Woods Rd.|
|CT 15||freeway underpass|
|Hamden Park Dr.|
|New Haven||Bassett St.|
|Temple St.||Southern Terminus
inside Yale University
- Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and Farmington River Trail Guide, FVTC, Tariffville, CT: 2009
- "Canal Heritage Trail: Welcome to the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail". fchtrail.org.
- "Gap Closure Trail Study - Plainville, Southington, New Britain, CT". www.gapclosurestudy.com.
- "Columbia Greenway Rail Trail". Columbia Greenway Rail Trail. July 8, 2005.
- "The BIG PICTURE". MassCentralRailTrail.
- Leary, Joseph (2004). A Shared Landscape: A Guide & History of Connecticut's State Parks & Forests. Friends of the Connecticut State Parks, Inc. pp. 25–26. ISBN 0974662909.
- G. M. Guignino. "The Farmington Canal 1822-1847: An Attempt At Internal Improvement". Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
- "Farmington Valley Trails Council - History". Farmington Valley Trails Council. 2010. Archived from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- "Cheshire Land Trust". Cheshire Land Trust. June 25, 2013. Archived from the original on 30 August 2013. Retrieved 30 May 2014.
- Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and Farmington River Trail | Farmington Valley Trails Council
- Farmington Canal Rail to Trail Association (southern portion of the trail)