Railroad History Explorations
Rail Trail and Backwoods Explorations of Railroad History
Did you know that thousands of miles of railroads have been abandoned in the United States, much of it in the last few decades? *
- The total miles of mainline track reached its peak of 254,000 miles in 1916.
- Mileage of all tracks (including additional main & passing tracks, sidings and yards) reached its maximum of 430,000 miles in 1930.
- By 1960, mileage of line declined to approximately 220,000, and miles of track of all kinds had declined 390,000. This reduction in mileage was the result of many factors, mainly competition from highways; and the coordination and consolidations that made many lines un-necessary.
- In 1916 more than fourteen hundred companies operated 254,000 miles of railroad lines.
- In 1960, fewer than six hundred companies operated 220,000 miles of line—but the reduced mileage had more than double the effective carrying capacity of the earlier, more extensive network.
See Also: The History of rail transport in the United States (Wikipedia)* Source: encyclopedia.com
Rail Trail Rides and Resesearch
A large amount of the railroad lines in the northeast U.S. disappeared in the late 1930s. All of these railroad lines have a fascinating history. Although much has been published about the glory days of railroading, little has been documented regarding their present state. The photos, maps and research presented here are dedicated to the preservation of their history and a knowledge resource for reference.
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A Few Highlights...
Railroad Abandonments Timeline
A timeline of eastern New York and western Connecticut railroad abandonments, most of which have been visited "in the field" and documented.
Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington Railroad
Affectionately known as the "Hoot, Toot & Whistle", this little-known narrow gauge had a colorful history. It's a fascinating saga of the importance of the logging business in the late 1800s and the hydroelectic potential in the region by the early 20th century.
Ithaca/Owego - Railroad History
Did you know that one of the earliest railroads ever built in America connected Owego to Ithaca? Active rail trails have brought some the area’s colorful railroad past to light but this hippie-infused town may not be aware of some of the early struggles.
Abandoned Railroads Near Danbury/Newtown, CT
There is a abundance of interesting railroad history in this area. Abandoned tunnels, long forgotten railbeds and vestiges of massive stone bridge abutments unveil a colorful history of the struggles and triumphs of yesteryear railroading.
Crown Point Iron Company Railroad
An abandoned town and a long-forgotten narrow gauge railroad were a short lived industrial giant in the region.
Rhinecliff Branch - Central New England Railroad
An overgrown railroad cut visible from the Taconic Parkway prompted research on this abandoned railroad line. Known as the Huckleberry Line, it was opened in 1875 and abandoned in 1938.
The West River Railroad - Brattleboro, VT
1879 to 1936 - Originally a narrow gauge that ran 36 miles linking the industrial communities of Brattleboro and Londonderry, the West River Railroad was later rebuilt to standard gauge. 16 miles are now rail trails.
Railroad Remnants near Cromwell, CT
A couple of picturesque photos of the old ROW on a winter's day.
New York State Railroad Timetables Found in Old Newspapers
A facinating look back at the imporatnce of the New York State railroad system by looking at old newspapers
Future of U.S. Railroads
From the glory days as the railroad envy of the world to its current sorry state of affairs; a look at what happened to our train system and what is needed to get it back on track.
Historical Maps of Connecticut Railroads and Trolleys
A compilation of Connecticut historical railroad and trolley maps. Thumbnail navigation provides easy visual access to a variety of online maps and historical info.
The New Canaan Branch Line Railroad
An in-depth look with interactive maps and historical photos.
Abandoned Railroads and Trolleys
Retracing long forgotten railroads and trolleys in upstate NY. Replete with photos of abandonment in the field, historical research and a variety of interactive maps.
Mount Mansfield Electric Railroad
From 1897 through 1932 the Mt. Mansfield Electric Railroad connected Waterbury and Stowe. It is an interesting little known saga. Climbing steep slopes were tough for the rail’s tiny power station and clay rail beds routinely slithered into the tracks during rainstorms.
Proposed (Unfinished) Railroads in Southwestern Connecticut
Railroads that never were. History Resurfaced - Tracing vestiges in the field.