Things to Do in Connecticut: Ride the Naugatuck Railroad

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The “Naugy” is a short line and tourist railroad in Thomaston, CT.  I’m a member and frequent visitor of the Railroad Museum of New England, which runs the tourist operation. Originally chartered in 1845 and beginning operations in 1848, the line ran from Devon, CT to Winsted, CT, where it connected to the Central New England Railroad. The tracks north of Torrington were abandoned in 1963.

The Naugy runs excursions from its home base north to Torrington, and south to Waterbury. This short line is one of the most scenic in Connecticut, following the path of the Naugatuck river. The Naugy runs primarily on Fridays and Saturdays from April through December.

Some of the excursions they run are:

  • The Litchfield BBQ and Whiskey Special, which runs from Thomaston to Torrington and back. Tickets are $74. Occasionally this ride includes a parlor car or lounge car as well. This excursion is adults only. This train departs Thomaston at 6:00pm with a layover in Torrington to get dinner. Please drink responsibly.
  • The Connecticut Ice Cream Train runs from Thomaston across the Naugatuck River Dam. This is a great train for kids, although you do have to accompany them lol. The low cost of this trip is $15, and there are activities for the kids.
  • The Torrington Twilight Express is my favorite. It costs $20 and departs Thomaston at 1630 (did you know railroads were responsible for time zones and the 24 hour clock?) and arrives in Torrington at 1715. You have 2+ hours to explore Torrington, departing at 7:45 and arriving back at Thomaston at 8:30.
  • The Chocolate Decadence Tour is another favorite. This excursion runs from Thomaston to Waterbury, stopping at Fascia’s Chocolates in Waterbury and at the Naugatuck River dam. It includes a charcuterie plate, souvenir glass for wine tastings, and chocolate samples. Yum! It costs $74.50 and is adults only, running in the evenings. Please drink responsibly.
  • Naugatuck Scenic River Train. This train runs from Thomaston to Fascia’s Chocolates in Waterbury, with a short stop while volunteers turn the train. It costs $15 for coach, and $25 for first class. It runs along the scenic Naugatuck River to Fascia’s.
  • Autumn Colors Limited. It runs from the dam and provides incredible scenery. It costs $19 for coach, and $49 for first class.
  • Northern Lights Limited. This train runs from Thomaston to Santa’s Workshop! Santa and Mrs. Claus board the train at the workshop and visit with the children throughout the ride, except for the naughty kids, who get to shovel coal. Just kidding. All children receive a gift bag and bell from Santa, but don’t ask Tom Hanks to punch “BELIEVE” in your ticket; he’s a bit grumpy after all that hard work. Tickets are $29 for coach and $64 for first class.
  • Santa Express. The afternoon version of the Limited, the children receive the same experience.

Charters can be arranged for any of the regularly scheduled runs. I plan on having my next wedding (lol) on the Naugy in one of their vintage coaches.

The Museum provides a great activity before or after excursions. The historic station, built in 1881, was extensively rebuilt to reopen the railroad. There is lots of vintage equipment in the yard, including a crane, coaches, and caboose.

The Naugy also runs a busy freight business, transporting scrap metal for interchange in Waterbury.

Memberships are a great way to support the Naugy. Memberships range from $35 to $1,000 and include a discount in the museum store. You can also volunteer at the museum.

Thomaston’s main attraction is the Clock Tower, home now to Clocktown Brewing Company. Thomaston was known as The Clock City, much as Waterbury was known as The Brass City. Restaurants nearby include Black Town Tavern and Crabby Al’s Seafood.

Torrington, now the terminus of the Naugy, is home to a firehouse museum, which houses a brewery, and the historic Warner Theatre. Dining nearby includes Sasso Pizza, which we loved (we recommend the meatball parm app, and the  clams appetizer, and Salt 2.0. Downtown is about a 5 minute walk, but plan accordingly to be in time for the return trip.

This is a well run operation, and I highly recommend it!