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Farmington Canal Heritage Trail facts for kids

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Farmington canal lock 12
Farmington Canal Lock 12 in Cheshire, Connecticut

The Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is an 81.2-mile (130.7 km) multi-use rail trail located in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

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.

The sections from New Haven to Tariffville totaling 47.6 miles (76.6 km) are part of the East Coast Greenway, a 32 percent completed trail intended to link Maine with Florida.

Railroad history

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.

The trail runs from downtown New Haven, Connecticut, to Northampton, Massachusetts, closely following the path of the original Canal and Route 10.

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.

History on trail
History on Trail

Trail status

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.)

Southern section

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.

East Coast Greenway
East Coast Greenway

Middle section

As of October 2018, the trail extends uninterrupted from Northwest Drive in Northern Plainville to the Massachusetts border in Suffield, 24.6 miles.

Northern section

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.


State County Town Crossing Notes
MA Hampden Westfield US 20 (1961).svg US 20 Northern Terminus
E. Silver St. overpass
S. Meadow Rd.
Little River river crossing
Shaker Rd.
Southwick Sam West Rd.
Feeding Hills Rd.
Depot Brook
Point Grove Rd. underpass
MA Route 168.svg MA 168
CT Hartford Suffield Phelps Rd. overpass
East Granby Copper Hills Rd.
Connecticut Highway 20.svg CT 20
Connecticut Highway 189.svg CT 189
Granby Floydville Rd.
East Granby Lordship Rd.
Simsbury Wolcott Rd.
Private Dr.
Connecticut Highway 315.svg CT 315
Iron Horse Blvd.
Jim Gallagher Way overlap
CT 10/US 202 (1961).svg US 202
Canal St.
Latimer Ln.
Old Canal Way
CT 10/US 202 (1961).svg US 202
Private Dr.
Avon Mountain View Ave.
CT 10/US 202 (1961).svg US 202
Fisher Dr. overlap
Ensign Dr.
Climax Heights Rd.
Daring Dr.
Security Dr.
Sandscreen Rd.
Country Club Rd.
Scoville Rd.
Thompson Rd.
Farmington Brickyard Rd.
Farmington Ave.
Farmington River river crossing
Red Oak Hill Rd.
New Britain Ave.
Scott Swamp Rd. US 6
Hyde Rd.
Plainville Northwest Dr.

Gap between Plainville and Southington

CT Hartford Southington Lazy Ln.
Hart St. / Curtiss St.
Chapman St.
Mill St.
Center St.
W. Center St./

Bristol St.

Railroad Ave.
E. Summer St.
W. Main St.
Atwater St.
I-84.svg Exit 29 Ramps freeway underpass
Burritt St.
Connecticut Highway 322.svg CT 322 overpass
Canal St. Parking
New Haven Cheshire I-691 overpass
Johnson Ave. overpass
Schoolhouse Rd.
Sandbank Rd.
Jarvis St.
West Main St.CT-68
Cornwall Ave.
Higgins Rd.
Connecticut Highway 42.svg CT 42
Lock 12 old canal lock
S. Brooksvale Rd.
Mt. Sanford Rd.
Hamden Brooksvale Ave.
River Rd.
Shepard Ave.
Richard Dr.
Todd St.
W. Woods Rd.
Sherman Ave.
Sherman Ln. underpass
Sanford St. overpass
CT 10
Skiff St. underpass
Connolly Pkwy.
Connecticut Highway 15.svg CT 15 freeway underpass
Mather St. underpass
Haig St.
Treadwell St. underpass
Putman Ave. overpass
Hamden Park Dr.
Morse St.
Dudley St.
Alling St.
Goodrich St.
Daisy St.
New Haven Bassett St.
Brewster St.
Ivy St.
Hazel St.
Shelton Ave./

Starr St.

Thompson St.
Division St.
Private Dr.
Munson St.
Webster St.
Sachem St.
Prospect St. underpass
Hillhouse St.
Temple St. Southern Terminus

inside Yale University


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