If you find yourself in Danbury with nothing to do, take a ride over to the Danbury Railway Museum, located at the railroad junction on White Street. You can’t miss it, besides trains there’s also a huge Uncle Sam statue in front.
Danbury is the former “Hat City”, and the railroad played a huge role in its development. The line from Norwalk to Danbury opened in 1852 as the Danbury and Norwalk Railroad. As the years went by, it was acquired first by the Housatonic Railroad, and then the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. Finally, after a merger with Penn Central, and then absorption into ConRail, it became the Metro North Danbury branch.
The museum is located in the former Danbury station, and has many exhibits both inside and outside.
This is an old departure board salvaged from Grand Central Terminal (don’t call it a station!) as well as a bond certificate issued by the Danbury and Norwalk:
Here we have an antique switch stand, which was used to switch trains from track to track, and a bench from the former station:
For the kids who love model trains, there are several layouts to view:
Here is an expansive view of the waiting area, including an old grandfather clock:
Being prepared for display is the old Solari Train Information Board from New Haven Union Station:
The Yard is open on Saturdays and Sundays. Metro North uses these tracks for storage, so be careful:
The rest of the yard has some interesting pieces of equipment. This is a locomotive formerly used by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, which is headquartered in Connecticut. It was originally built for the Rock Island Railroad and was built by the Electro-Motive Diesel Company in 1953.
These cars are former New Haven Budd parlor cars with a stainless steel body. They operated on overhead catenary wire as well as third rail power, which it needed to get into Grand Central. The Parlor Cars were assigned to commuter clubs, and had attendants and a bar.
This is a Sperry Rail Service inspection vehicle, originally built as a “Doodlebug” for the Seaboard Coast Line. A Doodlebug was a combination baggage and self-propelled railroad car. Sperry purchased it and converted it into a rail-flaw detection car. It has a kitchen, four bunks, a shower and a toilet, much like a caboose.
This is the exterior of the former Danbury Union Railway Station. The Housatonic had several lines and branches, and could run in multiple directions. This platform on the top left ran from Massachusetts through Danbury and on to Norwalk.
This platform also came from Massachusetts, but from Danbury went west towards Brewster, New York.
The only critique I could offer is the lack of excursion trains. While it’s a working railyard, the DRM is not allowed to run on active freight lines. They also have no currently operating equipment. This is mostly due to a lack of funding and volunteers.
If you’re interested in supporting the museum, memberships start at $40 a year. For more information and to support the DRM: https://www.danburyrail.org/membership