"In the field" railroad history adventures...

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Larkin Bridal Trail

The former New York & New England Railroad ROW through Southbury, CT is now the Larkin Bridal Trail. This is a great trail!

The Ride

After a railroad-history-filled morning riding the trolleys trails of Woodbury and Middlebury, topped off with a delicious lunch washed down with a double IPA - I was still aching to do more railroad-history-related bike riding.

Next stop was the Larkin Trail.  I took a look at the entrance on Rt 63 across from the Hop Brook Park and didn't see the ROW so I went to the Allerton Farms entrance instead. In order to satisfy my curiosity, I biked back to Rt 63 and saw that the ROW did end there - but it was cut off up high. Apparently as Rt 63 was modernized, it removed a lot of the embankment.

Well the ride was a blast - the Trail is very scenic and you ride thru quite a few rock cuts. The eastern section is nicer to ride because it is now mostly single track. The far western end of the trail feels like basically just a wide dirt road.
Allerton Farms entrance looking west
The other way takes you back to Rt 63
Beautiful tree canopy and super picturesque ROW
Man - I love riding thru rock cuts
Abutment - Remnants of the RR Bridge here
(South Street) 
Ah - rock cut...
Ooo yeah... another rock cut
Thru marshland near the airport
A picturesque spot - note collapsed structure on right

Power Lines crossing

End of the (official) trail
Yep I t looks like it keeps gong 
Parking at the end of the (official) trail
I headed from back here...
There is even a roller for mountain bikers
Of course I had to do it!
Highlights of the Trail
Two Minute Riding Video


This trail’s railroad history began in 1881 with completion of the New York & New England Railroad (NY&NE) between western Connecticut and New York. Following NY&NE bankruptcy in 1894, the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad (NYNH&H) took over the line until 1939.
Southbury, CT- 1892
New York & New England Railroad
The line was abandoned between Waterbury and Southbury in 1939 and from Hawleyville Junction to Southbury in 1948. The line between Hawleyville and Waterbury had one the region’s steepest grades up to Towantic summit. The severity of that grade is the key reason why the NYNH&H decided to upgrade and double track the alternative longer route from Danbury to Hartford via Derby Jct. in 1908-1911 and allowed this shorter route via Towantic to fade into insignificance.

The Southbury Station was up on the top of Depot Hill. It was razed during the construction of Interstate 84.
Southbury Passenger Station
Source: TylerCity Station
The final regular passenger service disappeared in 1932, and by 1937 most of the line east of Southbury was abandoned. The Hawleyville-Southbury portion existed a bit longer but was abandoned in 1948.

The Bridle Trail
The ROW was purchased by a Dr. Charles L. Larkin when the NYNH&H pulled out in 1939, and converted to a bridle path. Larkin was a wealthy Middlebury resident and horse lover and had land abutting the NY&NE ROW near South St. in Middlebury. He gifted it to the state in 1943 for a bridle trail.