• Railroad tracks in Portland, Connecticut

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New England

Moderators: MEC407, NHN503

  by bwparker1
 
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.
  by Ridgefielder
 
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.
  by kilroy
 
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.
  by bwparker1
 
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?
  by Ridgefielder
 
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.
  by Pat Fahey
 
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.
  by BandA
 
Ridgefielder wrote: 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.
[OT]There were Nazi saboteur(s) at the Hingham, MA shipyard, presumably delivered by u-boats.
  by CVRA7
 
Back when I worked in the Hartford Union Station 1974-87 I got to know a retired tower operator, Mike Martino, who had started on the NYNH&H in 1919 and covered over 100 different jobs between N Haven Jct and Williamsburg MA; and Willimantic Bridge St and Towantic (west of Waterbury) until he left the RR in 1953. He was a great source of information and he worked in the Middletown and Portland area in the 1920s. He knew Portland pretty well so I asked him about this "branch." He said it - or something roughly in the same location - ran to the brownstone quarries off the Air Line at "Brazos Switch" so at least the Brazos Quarry had rail service. Apparently much of the brownstone left Portland on the Connecticut River - you can still see a flat area along the river north of downtown Portland that probably was a loading area. Local sources state that the busiest era for the quarries ended in the 20s or 30s. As reported elsewhere, access to this area became very important during WW2 to transport petroleum out of U Boat range. I seem to remember seeing a spur heading up toward the quarry from the Arrigoni bridge (over the CT River) but by the time I returned to explore the area the spur ended in a scrapyard - think it was Gordon's - just off the Air Line.
  by Mr rt
 
I would say into the 70s there was a one stall engine house just north of Aragonii bridge. This was at the time that NH still moved a few cars along the Airline branch to Willimantic.
  by ebtmikado
 
Gentle Folk...
Please note that Air Line is two words,
just like Shore Line, Hartford Line, Springfield Line, Harlem Line, etc.

There were no airplanes around in the 1870s when the Air Line was built. It was called that because it was the most direct line between New York and Boston.
Lee
  by FLRailFan1
 
Mr rt wrote: Sat May 09, 2020 9:49 am I would say into the 70s there was a one stall engine house just north of Aragonii bridge. This was at the time that NH still moved a few cars along the Airline branch to Willimantic.
Were there any customers between Portland and Willimantic? Colchester must had at least one customer. On my model railroad, I have fourr customers at Portland (paper, CDW, a boat building company and a hot dog factory (with the hot dog airstream in front of it), in East Hampton I have a bell factory, a witch hazel distillery and a lumberyard, in Amston, I have a farmer's co-op, in Colchester, a shed manufacturer and in Willimantic, an industrial park.