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New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad

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New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
System map, 1918 (not including its temporary acquisition of the NY&OW)
A New Haven Railroad train in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 1962
HeadquartersNew Haven, Connecticut
Reporting markNH
Dates of operationJuly 24, 1872–December 31, 1968
SuccessorPenn Central Transportation Company
Track gauge4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Length2,133 miles (3,433 kilometers)
NH system map ca. 1929

The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad (reporting mark NH), commonly known as The Consolidated, or simply as the New Haven, was a railroad that operated principally in the New England region of the United States from 1872 to December 31, 1968. Founded by the merger of the New York and New Haven and Hartford and New Haven railroads, the company had near-total dominance of railroad traffic in Southern New England for the first half of the 20th century.

Beginning in the 1890s and accelerating in 1903, New York banker J. P. Morgan sought to monopolize New England transportation by arranging the NH's acquisition of 50 companies, including other railroads and steamship lines, and building a network of electrified trolley lines that provided interurban transportation for all of southern New England. By 1912, the New Haven operated more than 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of track, with 120,000 employees, and practically monopolized traffic in a wide swath from Boston to New York City.

This quest for monopoly angered Progressive Era reformers, alienated public opinion, raised the cost of acquiring other companies and increased the railroad's construction costs. The company's debt soared from $14 million in 1903 to $242 million in 1913, while the advent of automobiles, trucks and buses reduced its profits. Also in 1913, the federal government filed an antitrust lawsuit that forced the NH to divest its trolley systems.[1]

The line became bankrupt in 1935. It emerged from bankruptcy, albeit reduced in scope, in 1947, only to go bankrupt again in 1961. In 1969, its rail assets were merged with the Penn Central system,[2] formed a year earlier by the merger of the New York Central Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad. Already a poorly conceived merger, Penn Central went bankrupt in 1970, becoming the largest U.S. bankruptcy until the Enron Corporation superseded it in 2001. The remnants of the system now comprise Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line, much of the northern leg of Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, Connecticut's Shore Line East and Hartford Line, parts of the MBTA, and numerous freight operators such as CSX and the Providence and Worcester Railroad. The majority of the surviving system is now owned publicly by the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, with other surviving segments owned by freight railroads; many abandoned lines have been converted into rail trails.



Predecessors and formation (1839–1872)

Train over the Norwalk River (1914 postcard)

The New Haven system was formed by the merger of two railroads that intersected in New Haven, Connecticut: the Hartford and New Haven Railroad, which began service between New Haven and Hartford in 1839 and reached Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1844, and the New York and New Haven Railroad, which opened in 1848 between its namesake cities.[3] The two companies had a history of cooperation; for a time, they jointly leased the New Haven and Northampton Railroad and coordinated their steamship services with each other.[3][4]

An initial merger attempt between the two in 1870 was rejected by the Connecticut General Assembly, largely over fears that the merged railroad would form a monopoly.[5] But the legislature approved a second attempt just two years later, and the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad was formed on July 24, 1872.[6][7] The newly-combined railroad owned a main line from New York City to Springfield via New Haven and Hartford, and also reached New London, Connecticut via a lease of the Shore Line Railway (leased in 1870 by the New York and New Haven Railroad).[8]

Expansion and acquisitions (1872–1900)


The company later leased more lines and systems, eventually forming a virtual monopoly in New England south of the Boston and Albany Railroad.[8] In 1882, the railroad leased the Boston, New York and Airline Railroad, the last railroad in New Haven not controlled by the NYNH&H. This new acquisition gave the New Haven Railroad a connection to Willimantic, Connecticut.[9] Two more companies, the Naugatuck Railroad and the Connecticut Valley Railroad, were leased by the New Haven in 1887.[10] With these two leases, the New Haven was in control of 10 of the 22 railroads in Connecticut at the time.[10]

Early 20th century (1900–1935)

By 1900, the New Haven's trains could be found almost everywhere in Southern New England

Around the beginning of the 20th century, New York investors led by J. P. Morgan gained control, and in 1903 installed Charles S. Mellen as President.[11] Charles Francis Murphy's New York Contracting and Trucking company was awarded a $6 million contract in 1904 to build rail lines in the Bronx for the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. An executive at the railroad said the contract was awarded to avoid friction with New York City’s Tammany Hall political machine. In response to this contract, the New York State Legislature amended the city's charter so that franchise-awarding power was removed from the city council and given to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, which only became defunct in 1989.[12] Morgan and Mellen achieved a complete monopoly of transportation in southern New England, purchasing other railroads and steamship and trolley lines. More than 100 independent railroads eventually became part of the system before and during these years, reaching 2,131 miles at its 1929 peak. Substantial improvements to the system were made during the Mellen years, including electrification between New York and New Haven. Morgan and Mellen went further and attempted to acquire or neutralize competition from other railroads in New England, including the New York Central's Boston and Albany Railroad, the Rutland Railroad, the Maine Central Railroad, and the Boston and Maine Railroad. But the Morgan-Mellen expansion left the company overextended and financially weak.

In 1914, 21 directors and ex-directors of the railroad were indicted for "conspiracy to monopolize interstate commerce by acquiring the control of practically all the transportation facilities of New England."[13]

In 1925, the railroad created the New England Transportation Company as a subsidiary to operate buses and trucks on routes where rail service was no longer profitable.[14]

Financial difficulties (1935–1969)

Revenue passenger traffic, in millions of passenger-miles, incl CNE[15]
Year Traffic
1925 1810
1933 916
1944 3794
1948 2223
1960 1291
1967 954
Source: ICC annual reports

Under the stress of the Great Depression the company became bankrupt in 1935, remaining in trusteeship until 1947. Common stock was voided and creditors assumed control. During the 88 stations case, the railroad closed 88 stations in Massachusetts and 5 in Rhode Island in 1938, and unsuccessfully attempted to abandon the Boston-area portion of the Old Colony Division. The twelve-year reorganization resulted in "eight Supreme Court decisions, fourteen circuit court decisions, five district court decisions, and eleven ICC reports."[16]: 862  The railroad emerged in September 1947 under a reorganization plan approved in federal court, without the vast majority of its previous non-railroad interests, and with a number of unprofitable passenger operations on marginal branches replaced with bus service.[17][18]

In 1948, the company operated 644 locomotives, 1,602 passenger cars and 8,796 freight cars on 1,581 miles of track.[19] After 1951, both freight and passenger service lost money. The earlier expansion had left NH with a network of low-density branch lines that could not pay their own maintenance and operating costs. The freight business was short-haul, requiring switching costs that could not be recovered in short-distance rates. They operated major commuter train services in New York and Boston (as well as New Haven, Hartford and Providence), but these had always lost money; though heavily patronized, these services operated only during the morning and evening rush hours, and were unable to recover their infrastructure costs. The demise of the New Haven was likely hastened by the 1958 opening of the Connecticut Turnpike, largely paralleling the railroad’s mainline across the state, and the subsequent construction of other interstate highways. With decades of inadequate investment, the New Haven could not compete against automobiles or trucks.

NH logo created by Herbert Matter during the McGinnis era (1954–1956)

In 1954, the brash Patrick B. McGinnis led a proxy fight against incumbent president Frederic C. "Buck" Dumaine Jr., vowing to return more of the company's profit to shareholders. McGinnis won control of the railroad and appointed Arthur V. McGowan, a longtime acquaintance, Vice President. McGinnis attempted to accomplish many of his financial goals by deferring all but the most essential maintenance. Under McGinnis, Knoll Associates was retained to design a new visual identity for the company. Green and gold trim on rolling stock was replaced by black, red-orange and white, accompanied by a stylized "NH" emblem. Knoll employed architect Marcel Breuer to design the interiors and exterior styling of the three experimental trainsets – the Dan'l Webster, John Quincy Adams, and Roger Williams – that were ordered in 1955. Breuer also designed new station buildings for Rye and New London, neither of which were built, as well as the interior of a never-built design for articulated commuter coaches.[20] When McGinnis departed in 1956, he left the company financially wrecked, a situation exacerbated by severe damage from the 1955 Connecticut floods.

In 1959, the New Haven discontinued passenger service on the Old Colony Railroad network in southeastern Massachusetts.[citation needed] That year, the company reported close to $11 million in losses. Asked by the Connecticut Public Utilities Commission in February 1960 if the company's survival was in imminent danger, the New Haven's comptroller replied, "Yes, even with the best of management".[21] Continuing financial problems forced the New Haven into bankruptcy on July 7, 1961, and federal court judge Robert P. Anderson assumed trusteeship.[22] The railroad reported it would have only $9,262,000 in funds to cover expenses of $33,480,000 at the year's end. Company president George Alpert blamed "government subsidies direct and indirect to our competitors, and inequitable taxes" for the railroad's deficits, pointing to billions of dollars in federal funding for highways and airports.[22]

Revenue freight traffic, in millions of net ton-miles (incl CNE but not NY Conn)
Year Traffic
1925 3119
1933 2178
1944 5806
1948 4267
1960 2809
1967 2928
Source: ICC annual reports

Merger with Penn Central (1969–1976)

Penn Central took over a seriously neglected railroad, as demonstrated by this former New Haven locomotive in 1970

At the insistence of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the New Haven was merged into Penn Central on December 31, 1968, ending rail operations by the corporation. Penn Central was bankrupt by 1970 and the New Haven corporate entity remained in existence throughout the 1970s as the Trustee of the Estate pursued just payment from Penn Central for the New Haven's assets. Leased by the New Haven since before 1900, the Providence and Worcester Railroad (P&W) successfully exited its lease under Penn Central and resumed operating its own line in 1973.[23]

A substantial portion of the former New Haven main line between New York and Boston was transferred to Amtrak in 1976 and now forms the northern leg of the electrified Northeast Corridor, hosting high-speed Acela Express and regional rail service. The main line between New Rochelle and New Haven is jointly owned by the state of Connecticut and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York, and is served by the Metro-North Railroad’s New Haven Line and Shore Line East, providing commuter service from Manhattan’s Grand Central Terminal as far eastward as New London, Connecticut. The New Haven Line is coded red on Metro-North timetables and system maps, a nod to the red livery used by the New Haven for the last decade of its history. MBTA's Providence/Stoughton Line provides commuter service between Providence and South Station in Boston.

Amtrak took over passenger service on the New Haven–Springfield Line in 1976, and was joined by the state of Connecticut's Hartford Line in 2018.

On August 28, 1980, American Financial Enterprises, Inc., acquired the remaining assets of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company when the plan for reorganization was approved by the court and the company was reorganized. This brought to an end the 108-year corporate history of the storied railroad, and the end to the 19-year saga of its second bankruptcy reorganization. American Financial Enterprises would become the largest single stockholder of Penn Central Company shares by the mid-1990s, controlling 32% of the stock of the company.

The Conrail era and beyond (1976–present)

A Conrail train in Attleboro, Massachusetts, in 1983. Conrail inherited much of the former New Haven network with a mandate to return it to profitable operation

Freight operations on former New Haven lines passed to Conrail with its government-overseen creation on April 1, 1976. During the subsequent 23 years, Conrail withdrew from much of that territory, abandoning some track and handing other lines over to the Providence & Worcester, Bay Colony, Boston & Maine, Connecticut Central, Pioneer Valley, Housatonic and Connecticut Southern railroads. Those lines still operated by Conrail in 1999 became part of CSX Transportation as the result of the breakup of the Conrail system. The state of Connecticut frequently alludes to the New Haven in its modern transportation projects; much of the state’s commuter equipment is painted in McGinnis-era livery, while the iconic "NH" logo appears on everything from rolling stock, station signage, to tourism materials for the city of New Haven itself.

A GP40 in Shore Line East service in 2015, painted in New Haven colors to commemorate the NYNHH.

The Connecticut Department of Transportation has painted its diesel commuter rail locomotives used on the non-electrified Danbury and Waterbury Metro-North branches, as well as its Shore Line East operation, in the "McGinnis Scheme," composed of white, black, and orange-red stripes with the iconic NH logo.[24] Although a new livery was introduced with the opening of the Hartford Line commuter service in 2018, much of its equipment is shared with Shore Line East, of which some continue to bear the McGinnis livery and the rest have been repainted into the new "CT Rail" livery.[24] All of these lines were formerly owned by the New Haven.

The Valley Railroad, a preservation line based in Essex, Connecticut that runs both steam and diesel traction, has painted the authentic script-lettering insignia of the original "New York, New Haven and Hartford" railroad on the tenders of its resident steam locomotives, 2-8-0 Consolidation type Number 97 and 2-8-2 Mikado type number 40. There is a third steam locomotive in restoration to running order; a Chinese SY-class Mikado, formerly known as the 1658, it is being renumbered and painted as New Haven 3025, and is to be based on a Mikado-type engine that was typical to the New Haven.

The name of the Hartford Yard Goats Minor League Baseball team reflects the old New York, New Haven and Hartford railroad history and the design of its logo is based on the original NYNHH logo. The team plays in downtown Hartford at Dunkin' Donuts Park, which is adjacent to Hartford Yard, originally built by NYNHH.




The New Haven's Roger Williams trainset, preserved at the Hobo Railroad

NH introduced ideas for passenger rail travel, including early use of restaurant and parlor cars in the steam era, and more during the transition to diesel. NH was a pioneer in many ways; in streamliners with the Comet, in the use of diesel multiple units (DMUs) in the U.S. with both Budd's regular Budd Rail Diesel Cars (RDCs) and the all-RDC Roger Williams trainset, in the use of rail-adapted buses, in lightweight trains such as the Train X-equipped Dan'l Webster, and in experimentation with Talgo-type (passive tilt) equipment on the train John Quincy Adams.

An audacious experiment was the UAC TurboTrain, which with passive tilt, turbine engines and light weight attempted to revolutionize medium—distance railway travel in the U.S. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Turbo Train holds the U.S. railway speed record of 170 mph, set in 1968. The NH never operated the Turbo in revenue service, as the NH was purchased by PC, which operated the train.

Other passenger trains:[27][28]



Yale Bowl trains


Beginning November 21, 1914, the railroad operated special trains to bring football fans to and from the new Yale Bowl stadium in New Haven. Passengers rode extra trains from Springfield, Boston, and especially New York to the New Haven Union Station, where they transferred to trolleys for the 2-mile (3.2 km) ride to the Bowl.[30] On November 21, 1922, for example, such trains carried more than 50,000 passengers.[31] "There is nothing which can be compared with the New Haven's football movement except a record of one of the mass-movements incidental to the European war," one observer wrote in 1916.[32]


Cedar Hill Yard, seen in 1977 under successor Conrail, was the largest rail yard on the New Haven system

Company officers

Name From To Term Notes
William D. Bishop July 24, 1872 February 1879 6y/6m
George H. Watrous February 1879 March 1887 8y/1m
Charles P. Clark March 1887 November 1899 12y/8m
John Manning Hall November 1899 October 31, 1903 4y
Charles S. Mellen October 31, 1903 January 9, 1913 9y/8m Also chairman
Howard Elliott January 9, 1913 October 22, 1913 1m/22d Also chairman
James H. Hustis October 22, 1913 August 15, 1914 9m/25d
Howard Elliott August 15, 1914 January 5, 1917 2y/8m Also chairman
Edward Jones Pearson January 5, 1917 March 21, 1918 10m Also chairman
Edward G. Buckland March 21, 1918 February 29, 1920 1y/11m Also chairman
Edward Jones Pearson February 29, 1920 November 27, 1928 8y/8m Also chairman
Edward G. Buckland March 1, 1929 January 3, 1929 2m Also chairman
John J. Pelley January 3, 1929 January 11, 1934 5y/8m
Howard S. Palmer January 11, 1934 August 11, 1948 14y/7m Longest term
Frederic C. Dumaine Sr. August 11, 1948 August 31, 1948 20d Also chairman; shortest term
Laurence F. Whittemore August 31, 1948 December 21, 1949 1y/3m
Frederic C. Dumaine Sr. December 21, 1949 May 27, 1951 1y/5m Also chairman
Frederic C. "Buck" Dumaine Jr. May 27, 1951 January 4, 1954 2y/10m Also chairman
Patrick B. McGinnis January 4, 1954 January 18, 1956 1y/9m
George Alpert January 18, 1956 July 7, 1961 5y/5m Also chairman

See also



  1. ^ Vincent P. Carosso (1987). The Morgans: Private International Bankers, 1854–1913. Harvard UP. pp. 607–10. ISBN 9780674587298.
  2. ^ John L. Weller, The New Haven Railroad: its rise and fall (1969)
  3. ^ a b Poor, Henry V. (1860). History of the Railroads and Canals of the United States of America. New York: John H. Schultz & Co. pp. 196–197, 210–211.
  4. ^ "Railway Connections". Hartford Weekly Times. November 26, 1853. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  5. ^ "Consolidation". Meriden Daily Republican. July 21, 1870. p. 2. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  6. ^ Manual of the Railroads of the United States: For ... 1875/76. 1876. p. 104. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  7. ^ "House of Representatives". Hartford Weekly Times. July 8, 1872. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  8. ^ a b Karr, Ronald Dale (2017). The rail lines of southern New England : a handbook of railroad history (Second ed.). Pepperell, Massachusetts: Branch Line Press. pp. 16–20, 106–110. ISBN 978-0-942147-12-4. OCLC 874835522.
  9. ^ "Boston and New York Air Line". Hartford Weekly Times. June 29, 1882. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  10. ^ a b "The Consolidated Leases The Connecticut Valley And The Naugatuck". Meriden Daily Republican. May 23, 1887. Retrieved October 29, 2021.
  11. ^ "Obituary: Charles Sanger Mellen". New York Times. November 18, 1927. p. 23.
  12. ^ Allen, Oliver E. (1993). The Tiger: The Rise and Fall of Tammany Hall. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. pp. 207–231. ISBN 0-201-62463-X.
  13. ^ "Indict 21 in deals of the New Haven" (PDF). New York Times. November 3, 1914. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 8, 2012.
  14. ^ "New Haven Plans to Operate Buses". The New York Times. June 16, 1925.
  15. ^ The ICC reports show no passenger-miles for NY Connecting, so presumably they are included in NH.
  16. ^ "The New Haven Railroad Reorganization Proceedings, or the Little Railroad That Couldn't". Harvard Law Review. 78 (4): 861–880. February 1965. doi:10.2307/1338796. JSTOR 1338796.
  17. ^ ""New Haven" Authorized To Resume Management". Meriden Record-Journal. Associated Press. September 12, 1947. pp. 1–2.
  18. ^ "The 100-Year-Old Railroad". Lewiston Evening Journal. December 31, 1948. p. 4.
  19. ^ "New Haven Railroad 1948 Annual report". archives.lib.uconn.edu. Retrieved December 27, 2020.
  20. ^ Frattasio, Marc J. (2023). "Marcel Breuer's Forgotten Articulated Commuter Car Project". Shoreliner. Vol. 44, no. 4. pp. 28–39.
  21. ^ "Witness Doubts Railroad Can Survive Without Help". The Day. Associated Press. February 25, 1960. p. 1.
  22. ^ a b "New Haven Set to Reorganize by Court Order". Schenectady Gazette. Schenectady, New York. Associated Press. July 8, 1961. p. 1.
  23. ^ "Providence, Worcester Co. Will Take Over its Railroad". The Telegraph. Nashua, New Hampshire. Associated Press. December 20, 1972. p. 14. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  24. ^ a b Hartley, Scott A. (January 2019). "50 Years After The New Haven" (PDF). Trains. pp. 24–27. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  25. ^ "New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Timetables (1952): Timetable No. 128: New York–Boston". New York, New Haven & Hartford, "The Friendly New Haven Railroad". www.american-rails.com. Retrieved June 29, 2021.
  26. ^ "The Yankee Clipper". American-Rails.com. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  27. ^ Official Guide of the Railways, 1949, New York, New Haven & Hartford section
  28. ^ New Haven timetable, April 24, 1955, http://streamlinermemories.info/Eastern/NH55TT.pdf
  29. ^ a b "Summer-Only Luxury Trains to Maine". James VanBokkelen.
  30. ^ Monagan, Charles A. (2006). Connecticut Icons: 50 Symbols of the Nutmeg State. Globe Pequot. p. 60. ISBN 9780762735488. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  31. ^ "Railroad Handles 50,000 Passengers" (PDF). New York Times. November 26, 1922. Retrieved February 18, 2011.
  32. ^ Droege, John Albert (1916). Passenger Terminals and Trains. McGraw–Hill. p. 343. Retrieved February 18, 2011. new haven trains yale bowl.

Further reading