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...

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Cheney Rail Trail

It was a beautiful day on Saturday and I finally had time to go for a bike ride replete with railroad history exploration. The Cheney Rail Trail in Manchester was a short privately-owned spur to the Cheney Silk Factory complex (Historical detail below) 

I started from the site of the old Manchester Trail Station  - see previous posting.

Once on the trail, on the right are the railroad tracks and remnants of a trestle for the second set of tracks.

Trail on left - Track on right
Pier remnants
There were two tracks here
The official start was a block south of where I started!

 The Bike Ride 
(Short Video)

Former Cheney Silk Factory

The Factory buildings have been converted into loft apartments - very nice!

Ah - maybe this is a spot for a Native American Flute concert :-)

Historical Details

South Manchester Railroad (also known as the Cheney Railroad) was a short-line railroad, operating in Manchester, Connecticut. It was in operation from 1869 to the 1980s. The two-mile-long railroad was the only line in the United States to be owned by a family rather than a company. It was used as a method to send silk products from their mill in Manchester to the other mill, based in Hartford. Some of the workers also used the rail as a way to get to the mills for a low fare, but most lived in houses located on the property.


In 2005, one mile of the railroad was purchased by the Manchester Land Conservation Trust and converted into a Rail Trail.


  1. Where is the bridge over the tracks that you show under the pier remnants picture

    1. Hi Mark
      I believe you are referring to this photo

      This 1944 map shows the two tracks at the north end of the line. The shorter spur to the west was the trestle (pier) spur. There's no matching large pier to the south of the one in the photo.

      My guess is that spur might have been extended south after 1944 to connect to another industry perhaps on the southside of the road further east. Any evidence of that is no longer there.

    2. That's what I was wondering about.

      Now you need to go up to Vernon (there's a rail trail) and check out the Stafford Springs Trolley bed.

      A section of it can be found on skirting Shinipset Lake and you can see some of the beds as you head towards Ellington.

    3. Yes Mark - There's a lot of rr exploring in this area - I have a lot already scoped out! :-) This blog will be active again in the months ahead - Retracing remnants of the (1) Meriden, Waterbury & Connecticut River Railroad; (2)
      New York and New England Railroad; (3) Hartford, Manchester and Rockville Tramway Company just to name a few!
      Thanks for your interest!

  2. Actually, it starts in Rockville


  4. Looks there was a trolley line parallelling the Cheney line

    1. Interesting although I don't think it was the trolley., that ran down Main Street (a bit to the east). As late as 1994 there was a few spurs in that area where the piers are for heavy industry but nothing really lines up with that large pier. Perhaps it was for an overhead crane for something.

      I will email you a few maps and another photo I didn't post.