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...

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Ridgefield and New York Railroad - Remnants

After reading Ronald G. Egloff’s post on the kekitchawan.com history blog, my curiosity was piqued - field trip!
“In 1867, the Ridgefield and New York Railroad was projected for a 22 mile route to run from East Port Chester to Ridgefield. It ran parallel to the Byram River and proceeded to Greenwich and through the northwestern corner of Stamford, Mill River, east of Trinity Lake and Lake Kitchawan, then along the east side of Lewisboro to Ridgefield. Local farmers willingly accepted Ridgefield and New York Railroad stock as payment for their land."
"The soft, wide right of way was almost completely graded between Port Chester and Ridgefield and ready for the laying of the tracks when work was abandoned after the Panic of 1873. A new completion date was set for 1890 but at that point the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad acquired controlling interest and the project was allowed to lapse. "
"You can still see this bed along the banks of Mill River just east of the river.”

Online Map Research 

After reviewing my previously posted web page and digging deeper online, IMHO this 1908 historical map provides more detail on the planned route than 1867 Beer Map.
Source - Publish Date: 1908 Publisher: E. Belcher and Hyde

Subsequently, I created this topo map based on the above historical map.

The Trek

My first stop was east of Route 123 at where it crosses the Mill River. Sure enough, the ROW was easy to locate along with the added bonus of a couple of interesting historical remnants (an old dam and old road bridge abutments).
The Graded ROW
Old Dam. There was probably a mill here
The graded ROW continues (digitally highlighted). I turned around here.
Looking back (Route in distance)
Note Retaining wall on left
The remnants of the old road are somewhat obscured by bushes but it was cool to discover this...
Old Road (embankment)
Ancient bridge abutments - look closely

Next, I headed southwest on Mill River Road and was able to discern the ROW along the hillside across the river wherever it hadn’t been obliterated by private residences.
Remnants of an old dam - betcha there was a mill here...

At the end of Mill River Road, I turned right and crossed the river. I believe this closed dirt road was where the ROW continued south.
Google Street View
Lastly, I headed back to Route 123 via Kitchawan Road — Man that’s one helluva road! Super twisty with never ending up and downs - its a roller coaster! Check it out on Google Street View or better yet - drive it and see for yourself.

Conclusion

In all likelihood, I will continue my treks in the woods to continue to document more of the graded ROW where possible. A late autumn mountain bike ride north along the Mill River when the foliage is gone might be productive AND fun!

Further Info

Historic Mapworks - Lewisboro 
Publish Date: 1911
Publisher: G. W. Bromley

Historic Mapworks 
Publish Date: 1908
Publisher: E. Belcher and Hyde



2 comments:

  1. When I lived in Ridgefield I found out about this and asked the town historian about it. Apparently, this was someone's pipe dream, also known as a Paper Tiger, back in the day in which they sold a bunch of stock to fund the railroad with never any intention to finish it. My guess is that with a competing line to the more established line, it seemed like a ploy to just get bought out so as not to allow competition.

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  2. Yep - New Haven killed it but there’s lots of discoverable ROW :-)

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