Biking

This blog highlights some of my adventures with the focus on railroad history. Originally intended as a blog of my rail trail rides, it now also includes hikes, railroad trips and even stop-and-go car trips if they are railroad history related...

Friday, September 16, 2016

Adventure on the Rails

I had a corporate trip this week where I had to fly out of Newark, NJ. I opted to take the train connections to the airport for a short adventure.

Path Train

Working out of Newport that day, I grabbed the Path Train to Journal Square and then switched to the Path to Newark's Penn Station.
NJ Path System

Newark Railroad Station

I spent a short time at the busy Newark train station and frustratingly, as I waited on the platform, trains were very crowded and delayed.
Photos gleaned online
My Photo
NJ Transit Double Decker

AirTrain 

The ride was fairly quick to the station where you switch to the AirTrain to get to the airport.
At the AirTrain station, looking back toward Newark.
A glimpse back from the AirTrain at a NJ Transit double decker
The AirTrain was a monorail.  Interestingly, the AirTrain cars were actually short and functioned as separate compartments (like in Europe).
AirTrain

On My Return 

On my return I took a NJ Transit train directly to New York's Penn Station and then walked to Grand Central Terminal to get back home via MetroNorth. The NJ to NYC train ride was very quick and it is always a pleasure walking the streets of Midtown Manhattan.
My trip back to NYC - all on one train
This was the NJ Transit train car I rode in

Sure, some folks may think I am crazy taking the train but I enjoyed it despite the delays and crowding. It's really nice to NOT be in a car stuck in traffic and to walk a bit as well - the fresh air did me good :-)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Armchair Exploration - New Haven & Derby Railroad

Its amazing these days just how productive it is to use online mapping tools to research and discover old railroad right of ways (ROWs). Comparing Google Aerials (and Street Views at crossings), Acme Topo Maps and Bing Bird’s Eye Views to ITO World’s wonderful interactive Historic Railways map yields a treasure trove of info.

While browsing online the other day, I came across this street view photo of a railroad crossing sign and immediately wondered: Where are the rails? Sure enough... just a few minutes using the mapping tools mentioned above and I was off on an exploration toggling back and forth between maps; retracing the now defunct railroad ROW I discovered that crossed at this spot!
Orange Center Road

What's The Big Deal About Tyler City?

If any of you have even the slightest interest in old railroads and railroad stations in Connecticut (I confess, I am somewhat obsessed with this subject :-) ) - the TylerCityStation site is an amazing repository of info. Its an unusual name for a site but the story behind the chosen name is a great story that warrants explaining. Story Details >
Quick Synopsis:
Tyler City was supposed to be a suburban metropolis nurtured by the New Haven & Derby Railroad but this 1870s railroad boom town billed as a “Gateway to the West' never really materialized. The promising two-story station burned down in 1936 and all that remains of this “dream city” is the in naming of small road in the vicinity:- Tyler City Road (location >)
My online "aerial sweep" of this ancient ROW includes the Tyler City area.

About The Line

The New Haven and Derby Railroad was chartered in 1864 to run from New Haven west to Derby, Connecticut and north to Ansonia. It opened in 1871. On November 14, 1888 a 3.79-mile extension from Derby Junction to a point in Shelton was opened. Stops included Orange, Derby, West Haven, Alling’s Crossing and Turkey Hill.

The Housatonic Valley Railroad took over the line in 1887; the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad took control of the Housatonic Valley Railroad in 1892. Final passenger service on the line was on June 13, 1925. Track was abandoned and ripped up starting in 1938.

Aerials, StreetViews and Maps

Starting near the edge of New Haven on the west--as mentioned--it is easy using aerials maps (in conjunction with the ITO map) to retrace the entire ROW.
The Tyler City Station was located near the far left of the is aerial

The Railroad crossing sign in the GoogleStreet View below prompted this posting :-)
Orange Center Road
Note: RR Sign
Moving Westward...
Arrowhead Drive
Turkey Hill Road
The embankments northwest of Turkey Hill Road are noted in the Topo map
Source
It appears this was a bridge (or trestle) abutment where the ROW crossed over the Derby Milford Road.
Derby-Milford Road Abutment

Monday, August 29, 2016

Brattleboro and Bellows Falls Train Stations

On a trip up to northern Vermont (to mountain bike), I stopped by at Brattleboro and Bellows Falls to check out the train stations...

Brattleboro

Its kinda sad that the actual Amtrak Station is a puny section down in the basement but at least the station itself is preserved (it's an art museum).  Looking north, the tracks were pretty grown over.

According to shadyjay (railroad.net), "the track on the right has been out of service for many years, though it's still connected at both ends and, in theory, could be put into service, but would have to have brush cleaned up. The mainline (to the left) is continuous welded rail that was installed in 2011. The line is still very much in use with daily freight trains and the Amtrak Vermonter."

(details on the track usage in text above)


Bellows Falls

The view north up the river was entrancing. It must have been a picturesque train ride back in the day...

... but the actual station area looked pretty desolate although it's still a stop on the Amtrak Vermotner (see map).
Map Source
An interesting tourist-oriented addition in the vicinity is the "Waypoint Visitor Center" (adjacent to the Bellows Falls Canal). Architecturally modeled as a train station with a symbolic arch bridge melded in as well, it had a bit about the railroad history of the town--it was a major hub--but not a mention of Steamtown's origins here - STRANGE!?
Waypoint Visitor Center
Large sign detailing Bellows Falls railroad heritage:

Nice photos of yesteryear

Further Info

-Brattleboro-

-Bellows Falls-

Friday, August 19, 2016

Trestle Trail - Summit, Rhode Island

This bike path runs along an abandoned rail corridor of the former Providence, Hartford, & Fishkill Railroad. It is a designated section of the East Coast Greenway. The section east out of Summit is paved all the way to Cranston. West out of Summit it is not paved and eventually connects to the Moosup Valley State Park Trail at the Connecticut state line.

A lovely trestle is one of the highlights of the non paved section.


Maps of the Railbed




About the Trail

After mountain biking in Burlingame in the morning, I decided to head up to Coventry/Summit to ride the unpaved section of the Rail Trail. The dirt section west out of Summit definitely required a mountain bike. Much of the route is peppered with moguls: every five feet of so there is a 3 to 4ft depression and then a hump. Annoying but not difficult to ride. The trail surface is compacted dirt, gravel some sandy areas and--where too wet to ride--there are ATV reroutes off to the side that are strewn with roots. Needless to say, that made it fun to ride on a mountain bike!

I stopped at the Summit General Store for lunch. PS - the pickled eggs were delicious!
Summit General Store
 The trail head has a nice sign detailing the history of the railroad.
End of the paved section
Looking back eastward
Trestle Trail Sign

The Ride

A lovely rail cut - ooo yeah!
Railcut
The moguls were all over the place -- A mini roller coaster!
Moguls
Where the rail bed was too wet (bad drainage), there were ATV trails to the side.
Alternate route where wet
There is a new road you cross over that goes to the huge windmill

First Bridge

I walked it!
View from below

Greene - Railroad Memorial

There is a wonderful tribute to the railroad in the small town of Greene

The tread turns to gravel.

Bridge #2 - This is a tall trestle!


View from the trestle
This steep eroded gully was the way down
View from below
Short video


I rode west on for a while longer and decided to turn around here.

On the return, I stopped to snap this photo of the retaining wall - what a lovely view!
There were a series of these poles off to the side
Crossing Bridge #1 (gingerly!)
Lovely pine tree lined embankment through the marsh

Further Info

The Providence, Hartford, & Fishkill Railroad was also known as the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill. There were stations both at Summit and Greene. Timeline of this section of the railroad:
  • 1854 - Hartford, Providence & Fishkill (HP&F) built this rail line connecting Providence RI with Willamantic, CT
  • 1881 - The HP&F was leased to the New York and New England Railroad
  • 1898 - Absorbed by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad
  • 1968 - The tracks were removed