Railroad tracks in Portland, Connecticut

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bwparker1
Posts: 1604
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:28 am
Location: Hartford, Connecticut

Railroad tracks in Portland, Connecticut

Post by bwparker1 » Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:30 pm

I’m interested in knowing more about the history of the airline route in Portland, CT (New Haven RR). Based on aerial imagery from 1934, It appears there was a spur that departed the main line east of the Connecticut River Swingbridge, heading geographically north and west back towards the river and serviced the oil tank farm and also perhaps the Brownstone quarries. Does anyone know how long service on that spur lasted? It seems by 1951 the tracks may have already been removed, (again based on aerial imagery).

http://cslib.contentdm.oclc.org/digital ... /id/12343/

Thanks for any info on this operation.

Ridgefielder
Posts: 2683
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:22 pm
Location: Harlem Division MP 15

Re: Railroad tracks in Portland, Connecticut

Post by Ridgefielder » Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:20 pm

bwparker1 wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:30 pm
I’m interested in knowing more about the history of the airline route in Portland, CT (New Haven RR). Based on aerial imagery from 1934, It appears there was a spur that departed the main line east of the Connecticut River Swingbridge, heading geographically north and west back towards the river and serviced the oil tank farm and also perhaps the Brownstone quarries. Does anyone know how long service on that spur lasted? It seems by 1951 the tracks may have already been removed, (again based on aerial imagery).

http://cslib.contentdm.oclc.org/digital ... /id/12343/

Thanks for any info on this operation.
Took a look at the historical topo maps. The spur isn't there on the 1893, 1906 or 1928 maps covering Portland. It shows up for the first time on the 1945 map, servicing the tank farms and a Coast Guard station on the river in the vicinity of Riverfront Park. The spur is there on all subsequent topo maps through 1973, but is gone on the 1985 map.

My guess is that it was installed as a wartime emergency measure to service a tank farm that in peacetime got deliveries via water. Hard to imagine now, but in 1941 - 42, tankers and freighters were being torpedoed within sight of the Long Island and New Jersey coasts, and the government scrambled to shift fuel shipments to the rails. Guess would also be that it was a casualty of the overall collapse in service under Penn Central.

kilroy
Posts: 911
Joined: Sat Mar 20, 2004 9:51 am
Location: Central Jersey

Re: Railroad tracks in Portland, Connecticut

Post by kilroy » Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:00 pm

Not sure where you got your U-Boat data from but the first ship sunk off the US coast was in January 1942. Figures might be accurate for 1942 but not 1941.
Why do we drive on parkways and park in driveways?

bwparker1
Posts: 1604
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 9:28 am
Location: Hartford, Connecticut

Re: Railroad tracks in Portland, Connecticut

Post by bwparker1 » Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:42 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:20 pm
bwparker1 wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 9:30 pm
I’m interested in knowing more about the history of the airline route in Portland, CT (New Haven RR). Based on aerial imagery from 1934, It appears there was a spur that departed the main line east of the Connecticut River Swingbridge, heading geographically north and west back towards the river and serviced the oil tank farm and also perhaps the Brownstone quarries. Does anyone know how long service on that spur lasted? It seems by 1951 the tracks may have already been removed, (again based on aerial imagery).

http://cslib.contentdm.oclc.org/digital ... /id/12343/

Thanks for any info on this operation.
Took a look at the historical topo maps. The spur isn't there on the 1893, 1906 or 1928 maps covering Portland. It shows up for the first time on the 1945 map, servicing the tank farms and a Coast Guard station on the river in the vicinity of Riverfront Park. The spur is there on all subsequent topo maps through 1973, but is gone on the 1985 map.

My guess is that it was installed as a wartime emergency measure to service a tank farm that in peacetime got deliveries via water. Hard to imagine now, but in 1941 - 42, tankers and freighters were being torpedoed within sight of the Long Island and New Jersey coasts, and the government scrambled to shift fuel shipments to the rails. Guess would also be that it was a casualty of the overall collapse in service under Penn Central.
Where are you finding those maps?

Ridgefielder
Posts: 2683
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 7:22 pm
Location: Harlem Division MP 15

Re: Railroad tracks in Portland, Connecticut

Post by Ridgefielder » Wed Oct 23, 2019 11:39 am

kilroy wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:00 pm
Not sure where you got your U-Boat data from but the first ship sunk off the US coast was in January 1942. Figures might be accurate for 1942 but not 1941.
I didn't reference any sources. Thought the Norness was torpedoed in Dec. '41, that's all. Friend's father grew up in Monmouth County, NJ in the '30's and '40's and always talked about standing on the beach in Sea Bright and watching the ships burn off the Ambrose...
bwparker1 wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:42 pm
Where are you finding those maps?
You can find the full range of historical USGS maps here: https://www.usgs.gov/core-science-syste ... elated_con. It's a great resource.

Pat Fahey
Posts: 203
Joined: Sun Sep 18, 2011 6:06 pm

Re: Railroad tracks in Portland, Connecticut

Post by Pat Fahey » Wed Oct 23, 2019 6:21 pm

Hello Mr. Parker
In the year of 1999, the Mass Bay RRE ran an excursion over the Air route of the New Haven RR, on all existing trackage that was useable, and safe for a Passenger Train. The trip ran using P&W equipment on Sunday, Sept 19th, 1999.
The trip ran out of Middletown, Ct to Crowell, Portland, & East Wallingford, Ct, the Mass Bay usual attends a few train shows in the area. On their trips they provide a booklet dealing with the trip, plus also History about the Railroad, they usually have these books for sale, of past trips. I would suggest, that next time you attend a Model RR train show, look for there booth, and you might be able to pick up the same booklet of the trip in 1999. The Trip was called AIR LINE LIMITED.
Another suggestion would be to contact the New Haven Railroad Historical Society, for information, they put out a great magazine dealing with the New Haven RR. Also, they are many books that have been written about the New Haven RR, one book that I know of is called Connecticut Railroads, it might be out of print, but you might find it, on eBay, or Amazon. Also One more book you could look for called The Rail Lines of Southern New England, by Ronald Dale Karr. This book has Histories of over New England, including NH's Air Line route., with plenty of photos and maps.
Well, I hope this information is some help to you, Pat.

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