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Valley Railroad (Connecticut) facts for kids

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Valley Railroad
Valley Railroad 40 at Deep River December 2018.jpg
Valley Railroad #40 at Deep River in December 2018
Reporting mark VALE
Locale Middlesex County, Connecticut
Dates of operation July 29, 1871 – March 30, 1968
July 29, 1971 (July 29, 1871 – March 30, 1968
July 29, 1971
)
–present (present)
Predecessor New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
Penn Central Transportation Company
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Length 21.67 miles (34.87 km)
Headquarters Essex, Connecticut

The Valley Railroad is a heritage railroad based in Connecticut on tracks of the Connecticut Valley Railroad, which was founded in 1868. It operates the Essex Steam Train and the Essex Clipper Dinner Train.

History

Bridge remains along Fenwick Branch causeway, December 2016
Remains of a wooden bridge along the former Fenwick Branch south of Old Saybrook, which was abandoned in the early 20th century

Construction

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.

During 1868–1869, survey crews worked to map out the line from Hartford, Connecticut to Saybrook Point.

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 where 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.

The company grossed $34,000 in its first year. It continued to grow, grossing $250,000/year in 1873.

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)

Valley RR logo
Company logo

From 1961 until 1968 the New Haven's Valley Line was reduced to one freight train a week when the railroad went bankrupt in 1961. The Valley Line was abandoned on March 30, 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 started the Saybrook Special trains that usually run on the first weekends of the operating months in the early 1980s with connecting service with Amtrak at the Old Saybrook station which lasted only one year. The special and dinner trains were expanded to the south part of Haddam in 1993 and later to the Goodspeed in the late 1990s to early 2000s. The dinner train was expanded north of Goodspeed in 2017 but trains beyond Goodspeed were temporarily suspended in 2019 with the introduction of the new railbikes being the alternative for running beyond that point.

Rolling stock

Steam locomotives

VRR # Style Built Builder Notes Image
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; not yet restored. Simon Wrecking Company Locomotive2 0-6-0T.jpg
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.
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. Valley Railroad Mikado 40 (1).jpg
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 1973–2010, and returned to service in 2018. Valley Railroad 97 in Essex, December 2004.jpg
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. VALE 3025.jpg

Former

VRR # Style Built Builder Notes Image
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.
148 4-6-2 1920 ALCO Built as Florida East Coast #148; sold to U.S. Sugar, then moved by a private owner to the Black River and Western in 1968 for excursion service. It was moved to the Morristown and Erie in 1974, then donated in 1983 to the Connecticut Valley Railroad Museum; it was resold to a private owner in 1988, then to the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad in 2005. It was again acquired by U.S. Sugar in 2016 and entered service there in 2020.
1246 4-6-2 1946 Montreal Locomotive Works Built for the Canadian Pacific Railway, it was acquired by F. Nelson Blount as part of the Steamtown USA collection and operated excursions alongside the Green Mountain Railroad. Moved to Scranton, Pennsylvania with Steamtown in 1985, it was sold to the Connecticut Valley Railroad Museum/Railroad Museum of New England in 1988. It was on display in Essex from 1996 to 2008, when it was moved to the Naugatuck Railroad. Steamtown CP 1246 BrkwyMllsVT 10-24-81.JPG
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. Steamtown Roundhouse.jpg

Diesel engines

Current diesel engines

VRR # Style Built Description Image
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. Valley Railroad (Connecticut) 2.jpg
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. Valley Railroad 0901 at Goodspeed Station February 2019.jpg
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. 0902 at Essex Station July 16, 2020.jpg
0903 80-ton 1940s Acquired by the VRR in 2016. Valley Railroad 0903 at Essex January 2019.jpg
7145 80-ton 1942 Used as a parts donor. Valley Regional 7145 at South Yard January 2019.jpg

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.
140 RS-3 1951 Railroad Museum of New England Amtrak 140 was built by ALCO-GE in April 1951 as Pennsylvania Railroad 8912. 8912 later became Penn Central 5562 and later Amtrak 140. 140 was purchased by {Railroad Museum of New England]] from a New Haven area scrap dealer as a parts unit. The original PC lettering was repainted while retaining its Amtrak numbers. 140 was later stored in Old Saybrook in the yard and later moved to Thomaston in 2018.
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.
0401 FA 1947 Railroad Museum of New England 0401, model FA—1, #75276, class DER-2a was built by ALCO-GE in May 1947 as New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad 0401 to replace steam locomotives on the Maybrook to New Haven freight trains. 0401 became Penn Central 1330 in 1969 and was retired in 1971 and traded back the General Electric and was saved from scrap and was converted to a head-end power car as Long Island Railroad 618. New York area Railroad Museum of New England members kept track of the 618. 0401 became RMNE Property in 1985 and arrived on Valley Railroad property on April 4, 1986 and was temporarily repainted back to its New Haven color scheme in 1988. 0401 was moved to the Naugatuck Railroad's property in 2008.
529 RS-3 1950 Railroad Museum of New England 529, model RS-3, #78176, class DERS-2c was built by ALCO-GE in August 1950 as New York, New Haven and Hartford 529 along with a large amount of RS-series locomotives to retire its steam locomotives. 529 was rebuilt by ALCO in 1959 to its current configuration. 529 became Penn Central 5536 and operated over former New Haven trackage along with their RS-3's and became Amtrak 138 and continued to operate on New Haven territory with its work trains. Railroad Museum of New England was successful bidder on Amtrak 138 in 1985, and 138 came to the Valley Railroad property in Fall 1985 and was renumbered and repainted back to New Haven 529 in 1986. 529 was then moved to the Naugatuck Railroad in 1996 and continues to operate as one of their primary locomotives.
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. Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum (Willimantic, Connecticut) (31561041158).jpg
1109 SW1 1939 Railroad Museum of New England 1109 was built by EMC in 1939, class SW1, #912 as Boston and Maine Railroad 1109 for use in their yard near North Station and ran on the B&M until 1959. 1109 was sold to the Montpelier and Barre Railroad as their 27 and to the Pioneer Valley Railroad in 1982. 27 was sold the RMNE in 1986 and moved to the Valley Railroad. It was restored in 1992 as B&M 1109 and it was later moved to RMNE's new property and it currently sits at the Thomaston station grounds.
2525 U25B 1965 Railroad Museum of New England 2525 was built by General Electric in November 1965, model U25B, #35733 class DERS-7 for the New York New Haven and Hartford Railroad to replace their FA-1 units for freight service along with their ALCO C-425's and later to Penn Central in 1969 as their 2685 and to Conrail still retaining the 2685 number. 2685 stayed in former New Haven territory due to its cab signals and it was stored in 1980 and retired in 1982. 2685 was stored in Selkirk, NY and later Altoona, PA. 2685 was planned to be scrapped but the RMNE made arrangements with Conrail to preserve it and came to Valley Railroad property on January 4, 1986. 2685 was restored to New Haven 2525 and later to Naugatuck Railroad property in the late 1990s.
4096 E9 1947 C&O Railway Heritage Center Built by EMD as a new E9 for the Union Pacific Railroad in 1964 as their 912A. A UP E7 was used as "trade-in credit" for 912A. 912A became Amtrak 417 on l May 1971 and later ran on their AutoTrain. 417 was sold by Amtrak to a New Haven scrap dealer, and was purchased by Railroad Museum of New England and moved to the Valley Railroad in 1986, and rebuilt by RMNE as New York Central 4096, one number higher than NYC's last E-unit. Sold 1995 to a private owner, 4096 arrived at the Danbury Railway Museum on June 22, 1997. 4096 was later sold to the C&O Railway Heritage Center in Clifton Forge, Virginia in 2017. NYC 4096 at Danbury Railway Museum, April 2015.jpg
7926 45-ton 1944 Connecticut Trolley Museum Built by General Electric in 1944 as United States Army 7926.

Passenger cars

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, CT. It was acquired by the Valley Railroad in 1991 and placed into revenue service in 1994. It has 34 individual swivel seats. Valley Railroad Great Republic at Deep River December 2018.jpg
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. Valley Railroad Wallingford at Eagle Landing State Park October 2019.jpg
Goodspeed Pullman Parlor car 1927 Pullman Dacosta, 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/observation car 1924 Restored in 2015. Originally built as Baltimore & Ohio "Capitol Road", later modernized and sold to the Chicago & North Western as their 400 and used by company executives. Valley Railroad Middletown in Essex November 2018.jpg
Toreador Parlor car 1913 Pullman Former P&LE 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.
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, Nov 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 Nov 2018.
404 Coach 1952 Canadian Car & Foundry 82-foot coach, ex-Adirondack Scenic #7404, Canadian Pacific #829. Acquired 2015; entered service Nov. 2018 Valley Railroad 404 at Chester Connecticut April 2019.jpg
500 Food service 1914 Pullman Stationary food service car, ex-DL&W Valley Railroad (Connecticut) 2.jpg
501 Coach 1915 Pullman 74-seat coach, ex-DL&W Valley Railroad 501 at Essex July 2020.jpg
502 Coach 1914 Pullman 74-seat coach, ex-DL&W Valley Railroad 502 at Deep River December 2018.jpg
503 Coach 1914 Pullman 74-seat coach, ex-DL&W Valley Railroad 503 at Deep River December 2018.jpg
600 (Riverview) Coach 1917 Pullman Open car, ex-LVRC #1004, acquired 1995. Valley Railroad Riverview displayed in Essex November 2018.jpg
601 Coach 1917 Pullman 74-seat coach, ex-LVRC #1001, acquired 1995
602 Coach 1917 Pullman 74-seat coach, ex-LVRC #1002, acquired 1995
603 Coach 1920 Pullman 74-seat coach, ex-LVRC #1003, acquired 1995 Valley Railroad 603 at Goodspeed October 2018.jpg
1000 (Putnam) Coach 1924 Bethlehem Steel 76-seat coach, ex-VALE 155, exx-CC&H 155, exxx-CNJ, acquired 1990. Valley Railroad Putnam at Deep River December 2 2018.jpg
1001 Coach 1925 Bethlehem Steel 76-seat coach, ex-VALE 1101, exx-CNJ, in VRR service since 1971 Valley Railroad 1001 at Deep River December 2018.jpg
1002 Coach 1924 Bethlehem Steel 76-seat coach, ex-VALE 1000, exx-CNJ. Formerly named "Colonel Clarence S. Wadsworth". Valley Railroad 1002 at Deep River December 2018.jpg
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 A U.S. Army Kitchen car until 1986 when the Valley Railroad acquired the car. Valley Railroad Colonial Hearth at Goodspeed Station October 2018.jpg

Facilities

Track

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.

Valley Railroad wye track to Northeast Corridor at Old Saybrook, May 2013
The wye at Old Saybrook where the Valley Railroad and Amtrak meet.

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.

Stations

ESSEX FREIGHT STATION
The railroad's main station in Essex.

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.

Former Haddam CT Train Station May 2020
Haddam station site at Haddam Meadows State Park.
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