Valley Railroad (Connecticut)
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|Locale||Middlesex County, Connecticut|
|Dates of operation||July 29, 1971–present|
|Predecessor||New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad |
Penn Central Transportation Company
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8+1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
|Length||21.67 miles (34.87 km)|
The Valley Railroad is a heritage railroad based in Connecticut on tracks of the Connecticut Valley Railroad, which was founded in 1868. The company began operations in 1971 between Deep River and Essex, and has since reopened additional parts of the former Connecticut Valley Railroad line. It operates the Essex Steam Train and the Essex Clipper Dinner Train.
The vision of a Valley Railroad started in the 1840s when President of the Charter Oak Life Insurance Company, James Clark Walkley traced the 44-mile route by stagecoach with friend Horace Johnson. Walkley and a group of business men obtained a state charter on July 17, 1868, to form the Connecticut Valley Railroad Company and start the process of building a railroad.
In April 1870, construction of the line began, with ground breaking taking place in Higganum, Connecticut. The plan called for three phases, the "Northern Division" starting in Hartford and continuing to Middletown, the "Middle Division" which continued to what is known today as Goodspeed Landing, and the "South Division" which finished the line to Saybrook Point. The Connecticut River Valley allowed for an easy construction, as no tunnels or major bridges were required. The line was completed during the summer of 1871 with the first ceremonial train run over the 45 miles (72 km) on July 29, 1871, at a steady speed of 22 mph. At $34,000 per mile, the line ended up costing $1,482,903.
Connecticut Valley Railroad
The first "regular" train started on July 31, 1871. On August 24, 1871, the Connecticut Valley Railroad declared an official opening. The schedules of trains operating along the Valley Railroad called for one mixed train and four passenger trains each way daily (except Sunday) with fifteen stops along the way.
Financial trouble plagued many early railroads, and the Connecticut Valley defaulted in 1876 on its second mortgage bonds and was placed in receivership.
Hartford & Connecticut Valley Railroad
On July 1, 1880, the Hartford and Connecticut Valley Railroad took control with president Samuel Babcock.
Passenger service ended in stages: between Saybrook Point and Fenwick in 1917, between Fenwick and Saybrook Junction in 1922, between Saybrook Junction and Middletown in 1929 or 1930, and Middletown and Hartford in 1933.
Valley Railroad Company (Present Day Company)
The Valley Line was abandoned on March of 1968, by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad several months before merging into Penn Central. Penn Central had the Valley Line put up for abandonment. The Valley Line was saved by the Connecticut Valley Railroad Association (CVRA, later becoming Railroad Museum of New England) due to concerns of the abandoned branch line being torn up by the Penn Central. The Connecticut Valley Railroad Association, the Empire State Railway Museum, and private investors created today's for-profit Valley Railroad, obtaining a charter from the Connecticut State Legislature. The State of Connecticut took ownership of the line from the Penn Central, and designated the Valley line as a linear State Park. It reopened on July 29, 1971, with ESRM's 103 being the first locomotive to run on the current Valley Railroad with a train running between Essex and Deep River, 100 years to the day of the first train on the original line. The train was later expanded to Chester in the late 1970s and expanded as north as Haddam in later years.
This section may contain an excessive amount of intricate detail that may interest only a particular audience. Specifically, Too much irrelevant information in notes sections, too many irrelevant entries in rolling stock.(November 2021)
|2||0-6-0T||1941||Porter||Original U.S. Navy #14, then Simons Wrecking #2; later part of Steamtown National Historic Site. Acquired from the city of Peabody, Massachusetts in 2009; cosmetically restored. Owned by the Friends of the Valley Railroad.|
|3||0-4-0F||1930||H.K. Porter||Built as Connecticut Coke Company #3, it was the last steam locomotive to operate in regular freight service in Connecticut. After storage by the Valley Railroad in the 1990s, it was cosmetically restored and put on static display at Tanger Outlets in Westbrook, Connecticut. Owned by the Friends of the Valley Railroad.|
|40||2-8-2||1920||ALCO||Built as Portland, Astoria and Pacific #101 but never used there; transferred to Minarets and Western Railroad in 1921, later to Southern Pacific, then to the Aberdeen and Rockfish Railroad. Purchased by the Valley Railroad in 1977.|
|97||2-8-0||1923||ALCO||Built as #65188 for planned sale to Cuba, but sold in 1926 as Birmingham Southeastern Railroad #200. It was sold again to a private owner in 1963, and operated on Vermont Railway #97 in 1964 and 65. #97 operated excursion trips over the New Haven Railroad in 1966, 1967, and 1968. It was moved to the Valley Railroad as #97 in 1970. #97 was sold by the private owner's estate to Valley Railroad in 2005. It was in revenue service from 1973 to 2010, and returned to service in 2018. 97's current tender is from Central Vermont Consolidation 404, the original tender is stored out of service in Essex.|
|3025||2-8-2||1989||Tangshan||Built as Knox and Kane Railroad #58; acquired by the Valley Railroad in 2008. Rebuilt to resemble a New Haven Railroad J-1, it entered service in 2011.|
|10||0-4-0T||1934||Baldwin||Built as Standard Steel Works #10; on display with the Valley Railroad 1971–1997. It was sold to the Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum, then to the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum in 2008.|
|103||2-6-2||1925||Baldwin||Acquired from the Empire State Railway Museum as the Valley Railroad's first steam locomotive. Not used after 1975 due to limited power, it was sold to the Railroad Museum of New England in 1987 and it was moved to the museum's Naugatuck Railroad in June 2009.|
|1246||4-6-2||1946||Montreal||Steamtown sold the locomotive at an auction in 1988 to the Railroad Museum of New England.|
|1647||2-8-2||1989||Tangshan||The Valley Railroad purchased the locomotive new; it was later sold to the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway to replace a never-delivered locomotive.|
Current diesel engines
|0900||80-ton||1947||Used in occasional switching and work trains. Currently out of service, on display. Originally used at the General Electric plant in Schenectedy, New York. It was later sold to the Berkshire Scenic Railway Museum and to the Valley Railroad in 1991.|
|0901||80-ton||1940||Used for the Essex Clipper Dinner Train as well as for switching and work trains. Purchased from U.S. Navy at San Diego by Pfizer in the 1960s and used at their Groton, Connecticut plant before being donated to the FVRR. After being donated to the FVRR, the FVRR sold the locomotive to the Valley Railroad.|
|0902||80-ton||1953||Used for the Essex Clipper Dinner Train as well as for switching and work trains. Originally used by the U.S. Air Force, acquired by the VRR in 2014. Renumbered from #1606 to #0902 in May 2017.|
|0903||80-ton||1940s||Acquired by the VRR in 2016.|
|7145||80-ton||1942||Used as a parts donor.|
Previous diesel engines
|VRR #||Style||Built||Current owner||Description||Image|
|15||RS-1||1944||Central New England Railroad||Morristown and Erie 15 was built by ALCO-GE in 1944 as United States Navy 6. It was later sold to the Morristown and Erie Railroad as their 15 and it came to Valley Railroad property in 1987. The diesel engine was damaged by freezing coolant, and the locomotive was traded to Central New England Railroad. It currently sits in the Central New England Railroad yard in Scantic, Connecticut with the hood being the remainder of the locomotive left.|
|240||RS-1||1945||Scrapped||240 was built by ALCO-GE in April 1945, model RS-1, #73569 for the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railroad as 240. A private owner from New Jersey moved it to the Valley Railroad property in 1985, where the diesel engine suffered freeze damage. It was later sold and moved to the Tioga Central Railroad in 1994. 240 was scrapped at Wellsboro in 2014.|
|0800||44-ton||1950||Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum||Built in December 1950 by General Electric as Long Island Railroad 400 for use in the Morris Park Shops and this was the only GE 44-ton switcher to be owned by the Long Island. It was sold to a scrap dealer in 1963 and was sold to the Black River and Western Railroad as 400 in 1965. It was sold the same private owner as #97, and moved to the Valley Railroad in 1969 as 400 and later renumbered 0800 to be used on the work trains, dinner trains, and other purposes. It was leased by General Dynamics Electric Boat of Groton, Connecticut for several months in 1973 while their own 44-ton switcher was being restored. 0800 was sent to the CERM in October 1996.|
|Name / number||Type||Built||Builder||Notes||Image|
|Great Republic||Parlor car||1930||Pullman||Used on the regular steam train excursions. Originally used on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad's "Yankee Clipper" between New York City and Boston. Sold in 1962 to James Bradley of Stonington, Connecticut. It was acquired by the Valley Railroad in 1991 and placed into revenue service in 1994. It has 34 individual swivel seats.|
|Meriden||Dining/parlor car||1924||Pullman||Used on the Essex Clipper Dinner Train. It was originally built by the Pullman Company as parlor car "Plymouth" and used in service on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. The car was restored by the Valley Railroad and has a current capacity of 50 seats.|
|Wallingford||Dining/parlor car||1927||Pullman||Used on the Essex Clipper Dinner Train. It was originally built by the Pullman Company as a parlor car, and used in service on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Later rebuilt by Pullman as "Wayfarer" and eventually was used by a shortline railroad in Arkansas Reader Railroad, then sold to Valley Railroad in 1975. First used by VRR as a first class car on the Steam Train but was switch to its current configuration in 1994.|
|Goodspeed||Parlor car||1927||Pullman||Da Costa, the original name used by Pullman, was purchased from a tourist railroad in Ohio in 1988 by the Valley Railroad in hopes to use it one day. Used for storage until a 2013 restoration. In service on the Essex Clipper Dinner Train. The car was renamed Goodspeed in 2016.|
|Middletown||Parlor/dining/observation car||1924||Pullman||Restored in 2015. Originally built as Baltimore and Ohio "Capitol Road", later modernized and sold to the Chicago and North Western Railroad as their 400 and used by company executives.|
|Toreador||Parlor car||1913||Pullman||Former Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Navarro; not in active use. The car was rebuilt by Pullman in 1932 to its unique center-door configuration, the only Pullman car with that arrangement.|
|Lindsay||1923||Canadian Car & Foundry|
|400||HEP power car||1920||American Car & Foundry||Ex-PRR B-60 class Baggage 9284, ex-PC 7564, renumbered to 400 in 2018 and rebuilt as HEP power car for 400 series coaches.|
|401||Coach||1952||Canadian Car & Foundry||82 foot commuter coach, ex Adirondack Scenic #7401, Canadian Pacific #815. Acquired 2015. Entered service, November 2018|
|402||Coach||1952||Canadian Car & Foundry||82-foot coach, ex-Adirondack Scenic #7402, Canadian Pacific #824. Acquired 2015; entered service Nov 2018.|
|403||Coach||1952||Canadian Car & Foundry||82-foot coach, ex-Adirondack Scenic #7403, Canadian Pacific #828. Acquired 2015; entered service November 2018.|
|404||Parlor car||1952||Canadian Car & Foundry||82-foot coach, ex-Adirondack Scenic #7404, Canadian Pacific #829. Acquired 2015; entered service in November 2018, as a first class parlor car.|
|500||Food service||1914||Pullman||Stationary food service car, ex-DL&W, acquired in 1972.|
|501||Coach||1915||Pullman||74-seat coach, ex-DL&W, acquired in 1972.|
|502||Coach||1914||Pullman||74-seat coach, ex-DL&W, acquired in 1972.|
|503||Coach||1914||Pullman||74-seat coach, ex-DL&W, acquired in 1972.|
|600 (Riverview)||Open car/parlor/dining car||1917||Pullman||Open/dining/parlor car, ex-LVRC #1004, acquired in 1995.|
|601||Coach||1917||Pullman||74-seat coach, ex-LVRC #1001, acquired in 1995|
|602||Coach||1917||Pullman||74-seat coach, ex-LVRC #1002, acquired in 1995|
|603||Coach||1920||Pullman||74-seat coach, ex-LVRC #1003, acquired in 1995|
|1000 (Putnam)||Coach||1924||Bethlehem Steel||76-seat coach, ex-VALE 155, ex-CC&H 155, ex-CNJ, acquired in 1990.|
|1001||Coach||1925||Bethlehem Steel||76-seat coach, ex-VALE 1101, ex-CNJ, in CVRR service since 1971|
|1002||Coach||1924||Bethlehem Steel||76-seat coach, ex-VALE 1000, exx-CNJ, acquired around 1990. Formerly named "Colonel Clarence S. Wadsworth".|
|3659||Heavyweight Coach, former SOU. Purchased from the Age of Steam Roundhouse in 2019; not yet in revenue service.|
|4979||Heavyweight Coach, former CN. Purchased from the Age of Steam Roundhouse in 2019; not yet in revenue service.|
|5010||Heavyweight Coach, former CN. Purchased from the Age of Steam Roundhouse in 2019; not yet in revenue service.|
|Colonial Hearth||Kitchen car||1953||St. Louis||A U.S. Army Kitchen car until 1986 when the Valley Railroad acquired the car, formerly named the Westerly.|
The Valley Railroad Company leases, from the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the track running from Old Saybrook up through Essex, Deep River, Chester, Haddam, and Middletown, totaling 21.67 miles (34.87 km). The trackbed is gravel ballast, with track made of conventional wood crossties, with steel rails fastened to the ties. A major project funded by the company in 2015 put all mainline track from Essex (MP 4) to North Chester (MP 9.80) in stone ballast. The track connects with Amtrak's Northeast Corridor track near the Old Saybrook Station to the south. Presently, 14.25 miles of the line are restored for train service, with the remaining last seeing service in 1968. The rail corridor between Haddam and Middletown, which has been cleared of brush and receives property maintenance and surveillance from hi-rail vehicles, and is undergoing full restoration as time and funding permit.
The Valley Railroad Company has several grade crossings along its tracks. They vary in their nature, ranging from small caution signs at Private Crossings to flashing lights, bells, and gates and stop signs at public crossings. The busiest public grade crossings are located at Route 153 in Essex, Route 154 in Essex, and Route 82 (just before the East Haddam swing bridge) in Haddam.
The main station, where tickets are sold and all rolling stock is kept, is located in Essex; specifically, the village of Centerbrook. The main entrance and parking access is located off Route 154; there is a rear entrance (not for public use) on Route 153. There is a station building (used as offices for the riverboat operation) at Deep River Landing in Deep River, and a small station (used by the Railroad's track department) in Chester—it was originally the station at Quinnipiac, Connecticut. Goodspeed station, located off Route 82 in Haddam, houses an antique shop and is not affiliated with the railroad. Across the tracks from the station is the Goodspeed Yard Office. This building was the original Chester passenger station, located on Dock Road in Chester, but sold off and removed in 1874 when it was found that the railroad grade was too steep at that location for starting and stopping trains. Donated by the Zanardi family in 1993, it was retrieved by volunteers of the Friends of the Valley Railroad and moved by flatcar to its present location. It is believed that this structure is the sole remaining passenger station from the 1871 opening of the railroad.
On July 18, 2009, the Friends of the Valley Railroad built a passenger shelter in Chester on the site of the original Hadlyme station. The new building is a reproduction of the South Britain station, which was on the now abandoned Danbury Extension of the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill. The original station on this site served passengers of the town of Hadlyme, across the Connecticut River. Passengers use today's station to go to Gillette Castle State Park via the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, the second-oldest continuously-operated ferry route in the United States.
In popular culture
The Valley Railroad makes an appearance in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull with 2-8-0 97 appearing in some scenes of the film. It again appears several times in the Hallmark 2021 production ‘’Next Stop, Christmas’’.
- Connecticut Valley Railroad Roundhouse and Turntable Site
- Deep River Freight Station
- Essex Freight Station
- List of Connecticut state parks
- List of heritage railroads in the United States
- "Essex Steam Train Is Remnant Of Connecticut Valley Railroad". Hartford, Connecticut: The Hartford Courant. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- "Connecticut Valley Railroad State Park". Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut DEEP. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
- Karr, Ronald Dale (2017). The Rail Lines of Southern New England (2 ed.). Branch Line Press. pp. 111–115. ISBN 9780942147124.
- "Essex Steam Train & River Boat: Roster of Equipment" (PDF). The Valley Railroad Company. June 2016.
- "Connecticut Coke Company 3". Steam Locomotive Information. 2017-06-10. Retrieved July 19, 2020.
- "Essex Steam Train Locomotive History" (PDF). Essex, Connecticut: The Valley Railroad Company. Archived from the original (PDF) on August 8, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- "Baldwin Locomotive Works 0-4-0 steam locomotive 10". Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum. 2009-08-22. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
- "News From The Naugy". Naugatuck Railroad Blog. 2007-10-11. Retrieved August 10, 2014.
- "News From The Naugy". Naugatuck Railroad Blog. 2007-10-12. Retrieved March 7, 2022.
- "GE 44-ton Locomotive". Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum. Retrieved July 16, 2020.
- "The Essex Clipper Dinner Train". Essex, Connecticut: The Valley Railroad Company. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2014.
- Angus, Fred (May 2005). "Farewell to the 800s" (PDF). Canadian Rail. No. 506. The Canadian Railroad Historical Association. Retrieved September 12, 2018.