"In the field" railroad history adventures...

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Portland - Abandoned Airline RR

Today I decided to hike the abandoned railroad bed in Portland, CT. This stretch was part of the Air Line built way back in 1873 as a more direct route between New York City and Boston.

I parked at the Golf Shop on Rt 66 and hiked up the short hill to get to the flat raised embankment.

Surprisingly, it was well used - probably a favorite of local ATVers.
There were still plenty of railroad ties in the ground!
I even spotted a couple of dinosaurs! <wink>

railroad ties
Ah - a rock cut!
Overgrown for sure but still cool...

There were numerous off shoots of ATV trails. Some of them were apparently old farm or logging roads.
(The trail/rr went straight)
Looking uphill (to the right)
Side  trail offshoot...
Another overgrown rock cut

End of the line

On the way back...

railroad tie
on the side... ?
"snake" vine
I believe--from the amount of chiseled  brownstone boulders strewn along the short climb up from the road--the incline here was much less and tapered possibly with a bridge as well...

Wednesday, March 23, 2022


I had to go to Willimantic today to pick up my repaired Doumbek so I thought "why not ride a bit of the rail trail?"Ages ago,  I did the Airline Trail East Chatham to Willimantic LINK > and last summer I rode the Hop River trail south from Bolton Notch ALMOST to Willimantic LINK > but there were a few gaps I wanted to ride.

The weather was nasty: cold and overcast so I only rode to and from the Mackey's Store but at least I nearly closed one of the "gaps".

I started here
Perhaps someone very overweight sat here? :-)
I am sure this is beautiful in the fall
Ah - how cool: a RR tie bench!
Lots of RR equipment here - will visit this summer!
At the junction - I was here back in 2016
Neat - see Further Info link below 
 I am sure there was a mill here long ago

Remnants of the Train Station Platform...
 I then drove further east and saw this massive former mill- WOW! (See Further Details Below)
Heres the famous Textile Museum right across from the mill - I will definitely will visit it this summer
Lastly the famous Frog Bridge ;-)

Friday, February 11, 2022

Retracing the Meriden, Waterbury & Connecticut River Railroad

Back in 2015 when driving north on I-91 I noticed an abandoned railroad right-of-way (ROW) in the woods in Cromwell - link >.  It turns out it was the vestiges of the Meriden, Waterbury & Connecticut River Railroad (later a trolley system).

Subsequent to my 2015 visit, a paved trail has been built in the area and I returned today to explore a bit more...

Mattabesset Bike Trail and the Abandoned Bridge

My goal here was to check out the abandoned Railroad bridge over the Mattabesset River. I ended up parking at the Wooster Street Pizza on Rt 372 because south of the river, its only private parking everywhere for the various apartment complexes.
I took the unofficial spur to the abandoned railroad bridge
Fallen stonework
railroad ties!
Here's where the "spur" connects to the paved trail
A little rock cut - yeah!
Now this looks like an old RR ROW!
A little offshoot to a scenic spot
The kiosk map has seen better days...
Where the trail ended - I should have parked here!

A super short riding video

West of I-91

I then drove over to Industrial Park Road to find the trolley ROW

I saw the ROW remnant and parked here
I hiked the old ROW eastward
I was able to hike all the way to the Interstate
I saw 4 or 5 wild turkeys scrambling through the woods here. Sadly, I was too far way to get a decent photo...

Oops - my bad!

It turns out after carefully examining maps and ARCGIS topos - this boxed section that I documented descending to the stream was actually an old road NOT the RR ROW. The ROW turned sharply south and has been obliterated by all the commercial and industrial properties.

I then scrambled through the bush by the parking lot and found the old ROW and hiked a bit westward
At the stream crossing, it appeared it may have been a rock causeway with a culvert. I didn't attempt to cross the stream but headed back to the car.

There were faint traces of barbed wire along the edge of the ROW...

Highland Pond

Next, I headed south to Highland Pond Preserve because I knew there was a section of navigable ROW there...

The ROW continued northeasterly here:

Turning southwesterly to the right, I rode this section. It was an easy and super short ride but pleasant - especially considering how warm it was!
A little narrow to ride!
Here's the view from across the pond - arrow points to trail/ROW

Further Historical Info

Meriden, Waterbury & Connecticut River Railroad
(Wolcott Historical Society)