"In the field" railroad history adventures...

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Portland CT Railroad Remnants

I was in the area and as always, curious about what kind of railroad presence still exists. A quick ride through the industrial area south of Rt 66 (Marlborough Street) showed there are still tracks and a few hoppers on a siding. Of course the street I drove on was called Airline Street--named after the Airline route that whizzed through here ages ago.

Airline Street

Former Freight Station

Further Info

The Providence & Worcester railroad bridge  (Wikipedia)

Did you know the Portland-Middletown Railroad Bridge was...

  1. used in the Billy Joel video "River of Dreams"?
  2. collided by a huge steamship ?
Airline Trail Explorations:

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Farmington Rail Trail

Today having business in Southington (actually Plantsville), I decide to ride the Farmington Rail Trail -- officially known as the "Farmington Canal Heritage Trail. " I parked at Dean's Stove and Spa (I had a pellet class at 5pm) and first rode north to where it ends.

There was a section with some really nice artwork on many of the old repurposed factories.
And it was good to see old industrial buildings from the railroad days still being used all along the trail.
At the end of the line where I turned around and rode south:
I was hungry (it was around 1:30pm) so when I saw the Brewery right by the rail trail stopped by for a beer and a sandwich. Brew and Grub was good - service sadly was a little confused: Kinsmen Brewing Company
The old station! :-)
And even a short section with the tracks still preserved!
It was an easy flat ride but there were some really pleasant sections...
Google Map Route >

There were even a couple of documented railroad crossings!


This old lock even still worked by hand! (I opened and closed the lock gates)
I turned around at Brooksvale Road - I needed to be back at Dean's by 5pm
-Short Video-

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Narrow Gauge Quarry Railroad (Portland CT)

When riding in Portland, CT this morning I checked out the Riverfront Park and took a a snapshot of one of the kiosks that had a map of the quarries' narrow gauge railroad.

Kiosk Map of the former narrow gauge railway
Enhanced to illustrate the railroad

I've highlighted the narrow gauge railroad on the thumbnails below. There's a great site that has lots of historical detail and postcards of the operation - check it out!   Stone Quarries and Beyond

The quarries are flooded now and home to both a water sports park and a sculpture park.
Flooded quarry

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Hop River Rail Trail - Part 2

It was perfect weather today - especially welcome after a long oppressive hot and humid spell last week.

I rode south from Hop River State Park to where the actual rail trail ended and you had to ride on the road which was almost in Willimantic.

It was a bit of a long slow climb going back - no wonder it felt so easy at first going south!

It was a very scenic ride with rock cuts, riverside views, meadows, swamps, deep forests and even a covered bridge!

At the start
Loved the rock cuts!
And lots of stretches of raised embankments...
There were old telegraph poles along the way.
It's a bit hard to tell, but there was a beautiful gorge and small waterfall 
A Covered Bridge (Andover)
Under the highway  - the echo was nice inside it!
A beautiful stretch where the river runs parallel...
Crossing the River.
Loved the green along the edges here!
Another short "tunnel" under a highway
Blowdown! At least it was easy to ride around it!...
Short video (I reduced the audio volume as there was lots of wind noise from riding)

Details on my previous Hop River Trail ride and info on the railroad history can be found here:

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Rockville Spur

This morning I rode the Rockville Spur Rail Trail. It's an easy ride...

A bit of history

This spur opened in 1863 - Rockville was a booming textile center and needed a railroad connection. The last freight train from Vernon was in 1970 and in 1975 the rails were torn up for scrap.

The Ride

The kiosk at Vernon Junction was very informative!
Riding under I-84
This building looks like it might have been an old freight depot...
A mysterious foundation here
This 1915 Valuation map proved my hunch that there was a siding here
The embankment into Rockville
Remnants of a stone lined waterway on the left
At the end of the line at Vernon Street

The Town

I continued up the streets on my bike and discovered there are quite a few beautiful old buildings!
An old mill converted into apartments
The stream that powered the mills...
Don't be confused by the sign title - this is Rockville!

A super short one-handed video 

I next ventured over to Hockanum River Trail and later rode the Charter Oak Greenway...