The Air Line Railroad is proof that some times a good idea on paper is not necessarily a good idea when built.

Two of the most important cities in the United States in the mid-1800s were Boston and New York City. Railroads had been built along the New England shoreline to connect the two cities, but trains had to frequently stop for draw bridges on the many navigable rivers or discharge passengers and freight to cross rivers on ferryboats and re-board trains on the other side. This was very time consuming. Another option was to ride a train far inland to cross Massachusetts from west to east. Finally, steamships connected the two cities by plying the costal waters of Long Island and Rhode Island sound, and rounding Cape Cod. But to build a railroad on the straight line between the two cities, diagonally through Connecticut and Southeast Massachusetts, had long been a dream of various railroad investors and engineers. The straight line would be faster and better, with less river crossings and passing through scenic Connecticut farm lands and forests. Connecticut had no mountains, just ridges which paralleled each other from north to south. Railroad dreamers, financers, and "great numbers of normally shrewd and cautious Yankees"1 fell into the trap of the straight line.

ARRmapPhoto.gifThe "Air Line" route got it name from the idea that the railroad would follow a path as "if a line had been drawn through the air" between the two cities. It was planned to run diagonally across Connecticut, starting in New Haven and running northeast through Middlefield, Middletown, Portland, East Hampton, Colchester, Willimantic, Goshen, Dayville, and Woonsocket, R.I. and then on to Boston. It specialized in connecting hamlets, and was remarkable for its engineering originality and desire to run "fast passenger trains"2 The only difficult natural barrier that the designers thought they faced was bridging the three quarter mile wide Connecticut River in the Middletown area. What they failed to account for was the political ramifications of this bridge, as well as the less imposing but more numerous trap rock ridges that ran north to south across central and eastern Connecticut.

In 1846, a charter created the New York and Boston Railroad Company. Charles Alsop of Middletown, Connecticut was the first president, and he had already secured the rights for a railroad between his home city and the town of Berlin, Connecticut. Immediately, there was opposition to the Air Line. Steamship companies with the lucrative Boston to New York lines also steamed the Connecticut River all the way to Hartford, to the north of Middletown. Not wanting to lose passengers on their ships to the faster rail line, they influenced the Connecticut legislature to block the permitting of a bridge at Middletown by citing that it would be a danger to marine traffic. Hartford merchants also opposed the railroad because it bypassed that capital city completely. Governor Isaac Toucey revoked the charter of the New York and Boston Railroad Company at the behest of steamship companies, but the state General Assembly later overrode this action. The railroad company pushed on to construct the line.

Edwin Ferry Johnson, a railroad civil engineer who had worked on the Erie and Champlain canals and the Erie and Northern Pacific railroads, surveyed the route in 1846. He recommended a draw bridge to cross the Connecticut River in Middletown at an estimated cost of $100,0003. He also foresaw the line passing through Reed's Gap in Wallingford to bypass the high ridge west of the river, and then planned a series of cuts and viaducts through the ridges of eastern Connecticut to Willimantic. From Willimantic, Johnson planned the best route through Hampton, Chaplin, Dayville to the Rhode Island state line where the railroad would connect with the Woonsocket Union line, linking with the Charles River railroad and ultimately into the city of Boston. The cost of building the railroad, according to Johnson's estimate, would be $2,565,000 or approximately $31,000 per mile.

In 1847, the state's General Assembly formed the "Joint Select Committee on Railroads" to decide the fate of the Connecticut River bridge at Middletown. Maritime concerns felt the bridge would be hazardous to vessels, especially at night and in poor weather. Farmers thought that ice would build up and jam about the piers, flooding their fields and killing their livestock. After a year, the committee passed a bill prohibiting the building of a draw bridge in Middletown, and instead granted them permission to erect a suspension bridge farther down the Connecticut River at a point called 'the Narrows'. It took until 1849 for the design of the suspension bridge to be finalized and approved, however, it was unlikely that the New York and Boston Railroad Company could raise the necessary funds to construct such a structure.


The proposed suspension bridge at "The Narrows" just south of Middletown. The design drawing exaggerated the narrowness of "The Narrows"; the Connecticut River is approximately 1,300 feet wide at this point. That would make the tree on the left bank about 400 feet tall!
In the meantime while the bridge debate was going on, other problems kept interfering with the railroads construction. A construction scandal, where Connecticut stockholder money was diverted illegally for railroad work in Massachusetts, halted construction for a time. This and other construction delays caused the railroads directors to continuously ask the legislature for extensions of their charter. By 1857, the state declared that the New York and Boston Railroad Company was "in a deranged condition"4 In 1862, the railroad company had only completed track between Brookline, Massachusetts and Woonsocket, Rhode Island. Nothing was completed west of Woonsocket and only a small fraction had been completed in Connecticut. The railroad company was then ordered audited, but records were missing and presumed destroyed. The company flailed until 1865, when it was bought out by another faltering endeavor, the Boston, Hartford, and Erie Railroad. Itself in trouble, this new company dropped the idea of the Air Line Railroad until the charter expired in 1867.

That year, another Middletown entrepreneur, David Lyman, revived the idea of the Air Line Railroad, and formed the New Haven, Middletown, and Willimantic Railroad Company. His new company persuaded the state to allow the construction of a 1,250 foot draw bridge across the Connecticut River in Middletown. Construction began in earnest in Connecticut, and by 1870, the line from New Haven to Middletown was constructed, following Johnson's plan from 24 years earlier. Three years later, the line was completed across the river and through the rugged landscape to Willimantic. The cost, however, had far exceeded Johnson's estimate of 1846, now a huge $7 million. Crossing the ridges in East Hampton and Colchester had required large cuts through hills, and several of the largest iron trestle bridges in New England had been constructed across two valleys, all of which had been understated and the costs underestimated in the original design. Unable to pay the interest on their bonds, the New Haven, Middletown, and Willimantic Railroad Company went bankrupt and was reorganized as the Boston and New York Air Line Railroad in 1875.


This portion from an 1895 map of railroads in Connecticut shows the Air Line from Middletown to Willimantic, with the railroad stations listed.

This portion from an 1895 map of railroads in Connecticut shows the Air Line from New Haven to Middletown, with the railroad stations listed.

The Lyman Viaduct (named for David Lyman) crosses over the Dickenson Creek in Colchester, and is 1,000 feet long and 137 feet high (courtesy of the East Hampton Public Library Historical Collection)

The Rapallo Viaduct in East Hampton bridges the Flat Brook, and is 800 feet long and 60 feet high. It is only 1.5 miles west of the Lyman Viaduct. (courtesy of the East Hampton Public Library Historical Collection)

Bishop's Cut, about 35' deep through granite and brownstone just east of the central village of East Hampton (from Connecticut Railroads: an Illustrated History)
In the meantime while Lyman built the connection from New Haven to Willimantic, another company had inadvertently picked up the baton to connect Boston to Willimantic. Several companies, including the Boston and New York Central and the Norfolk County Railroad, had built lines from Boston to Blackstone, Massachusetts. Another company, the Southbridge and Blackstone was chartered in 1849 to build a railroad between Blackstone and Southbridge, Massachusetts passing through the northeast corner of Connecticut in East Thompson. After a series of financial problems and scandals, many of these smaller companies were absorbed into the Boston & New York Central. The new company revised the ending point of the Blackstone & Southbridge, moving the terminus from Southbridge to Mechanicsville, Connecticut, just north of Putnam, Connecticut. Here, the new line intersected an existing rail line which traveled north-south from New London, Connecticut to Worcester, Massachusetts. The railroad company had the dream to continue building westward to Willimantic, but did not have the funds nor the investor backing to do so. Despite its pretentious title, the Boston & New York Central was a "decrepit railroad".5 It saw little traffic on the lines, and was reorganized several times, until acquired by the Boston, Hartford and Erie Railroad Company in 1863 as part of a multiple company purchase. The Boston, Hartford and Erie planned to build a line which would run from the Hudson River to Willimantic, and then branch to Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. To complete this vision, they needed to build 77 miles of line between Waterbury, Connecticut to the Hudson River, and 26 miles from Putnam to Willimantic. After raising millions in grants and loans, the only line every constructed was a branch from East Thompson to Southbridge. The remainder of the money was looted and bilked by the unprincipled owners of the Boston, Hartford and Erie.

From the now bankrupt Boston, Hartford and Erie Railroad Company, a new railroad was born, the New York & New England Railroad. Charles Peter Clarke was the General Manager of the railroad, and under his leadership, it raised the necessary funds to complete the Putnam to Willimantic link. It followed Edwin Ferry Johnson's plan from Willimantic northeast to Pomfret, Connecticut, where the line then curved northward to cross the Quinebaug River into Putnam. A huge bridge was built to span the river, which was prone to flooding and ice dams. The last work on the Willimantic to Putnam line was completed in August, 1872.

So, with the completion of the New York & New England Railroad from Putman to Willimantic in 1872, and the New Haven to Willimantic railroad by the New Haven, Middletown, & Willimantic Railroad Company in the following year, the dream held by so many in the 1840s had been meet. It had arrived 24 years late, had cost many times the original estimates, and followed a path significantly different that the first design.


This portion from an 1895 map of railroads in Connecticut shows the Air Line from Willimantic to the Massachusetts state line, with the railroad stations listed.

This bridge was built in Putnam to cross the Quinebaug River. A footbridge now rests on the piers (from the Dodd Collection, University of Connecticut Library)
With construction complete, an direct inland route from New York City to Boston was now in place. For several years, sporadic passenger traffic passed over the route. The first regularly scheduled passenger train began in 1876, called The Federal Express, sometimes known as The Washington Night Express. It ran from Boston to Willimantic, then on to Middletown, New Haven, and ultimately New York. However, due to the frequent stops it made to take on passengers and water, the train was not usually any quicker than the shoreline route.

In 1877, the Colchester Railway built a spur between Turnerville (now called Amston) and the central village of Colchester. The town of Colchester paid $50,000 for half of the three mile long rail bed, and the leased the line to the New York & New England. The spur carried passengers and freight to the rubber plant in town.


The Colchester Spur ended in Colchester, and the train station can be seen in the far background as this freight locomotive with several boxcars pulls out of town (from Connecticut Railroads: an Illustrated History)
Unusual in history, the legislature of Connecticut proved right when the steamer City of Hartford rammed the draw bridge in Middletown during a foggy night in 1876. It has never been proven whether the crash was an accident or was intentional. The western part of the bridge actually collapsed on to the steamer and had to be re-built. It took several months to restore the bridge to normal operations.

In 1885, the famous train New England Limited was inaugurated. The Limited ran two simultaneous trains, one leaving Boston and the other departing New York City each day at 3 pm. A powerful steam locomotive pulled two plush Pullman cars for the 213 mile journey in 6 hours, shaving an hour or more off the shoreline route. Six years later in 1891, the Pullman company delivered new luxury cars painted in white with gold trim. In a marketing move that would impress today's Madison Avenue executives, the remainder to the train was white washed and the engine crews and staff were dressed in tropical white overalls. The White Train as it was now called became an instant success, carrying businessmen and the wealthy between the two cities. For people watching the locomotive and cars speeding through their sleepy towns, the train became known as the Ghost Train.


The White Train stopped in East Thompson, 1891 (from Connecticut Railroads: an Illustrated History)
The first run of the White Train left Summer Street station in Boston on March 16, 1891, and the Boston Herald newspaper wrote:

Rolling out of the New York and New England Railroad station at 3 pm yesterday afternoon, the New England Limited took all the glories that could be attached in a complete new train resplendent in white and gold.
For three months past, items have appeared in the daily papers about a new departure in car decoration that the NY&NE Railroad was about to inaugurate, and yesterday saw the fulfillment of those announcements.
The Pullman Palace Car Company has built for the service seven parlor cars, four passenger coaches, and two royal buffet smokers. These cars are divided into two trains, owned by the New England and the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroads. The New England road has provided a dining car of the same general design to run between Boston and Willimantic, Connecticut. The cars are heated by steam directly from the locomotive and are lighted by the Pintsch system of gas. The parlor cars are furnished with velvet carpets, silk draperies, and white silk curtains. The chairs are upholstered in old gold plush, and large plate glass mirrors set off the car handsomely. Three of them have each a stateroom and 26 chairs in the main salon, while the other four have 30 chair each. The royal buffet smokers which will be run in addition to the ordinary smoking cars are decorated in the same manner as the parlor cars and contain 20 handsome upholstered chairs for the passengers.
Two cards tables with stationary seats, and writing desks will all needed stationery for letters of telegrams are also provided. The regular passenger coaches seat 60 persons and are comfortable and easy riding. The train that left Boston yesterday was seen by crowds and people who were lined enroute to gaze with mingled curiosity and delight at its handsome appearance.6

The White Train attracted national attention, and President Benjamin Harrison rode the line from New York to Boston. Rudyard Kipling also rode these rails from Boston to New York. The following verse was widely circulated:

Without a jar, or roll or antic,Without a stop to Willimantic,
The New England Limited takes its wayAt three o'clock each day,Maids and Matrons, daintily dimited,Ride every day on the New England Limited;Rain nor snow ne'er stops its flight,It makes New York at nine each night.One half the glories have not been toldOf that wonderful train of white and goldWhich leaves each day for New York at three
Over the N.Y. & N.E.7

Part of the reason that the White Train could make the run from New York City to Boston in such a short time was the innovative 'pan trays' that were used in Putnam. Pan trays were troughs of water bolted between the tracks. A steam locomotive would lower a scoop to draw in from 1,500 to 2,500 gallons of water without stopping. The White Train would speed at 45 miles per hour through Putnam and not stop until arriving at Willimantic. Pan trays had been invented and deployed in England, but this was their first use in the United States.

One of the most bizarre train wrecks in history occurred in East Thompson on the Air Line on December 4, 1891. Early in the morning on a foggy, wintry Connecticut day, four trains, all headed in the same direction, smashed together in the space of 5 minutes. Just north of the East Thompson station is the branch to Southbridge, and the Air Line was a double track at this point. The Southbridge Local, to be shunted to the branch, was assembling its eight cars on one track when it was rear ended by a north bound fast freight train, simply knows as the 212. This train had been shunted from the main track to the side track where the Southbridge Local was assembling in order to allow two fast passenger trains to pass by. The dispatcher in Putnam and the crew of the 212 forgot that as scheduled, the Southbridge Local was on the same track that the 212 was using. The impact threw the Southbridge Local off the tracks and down an embankment on to the Old Hartford Turnpike. The cars of the 212 freight train had the misfortune of jackknifing onto the other parallel tracks. Moments later, the Long Island & Eastern States Express came hurtling out of the fog at 50 miles per hour and crashed into the debris. The locomotive of the Express turned completely around, vaulted off the embankment, and crashed into the ground. The safety valve on the locomotive's boiler then blew, and the escaping steam dug a hole and spewed gravel that demolished a nearby house. Five minutes later, the stunned passengers and crews of the three wrecked trains watched in horror as another fast passenger train, The Norwich Steamboat Express, only minutes behind the Long Island & Eastern States Express plowed into the passenger cars of that train that still remained on the rails.

The locomotive from the Long Island & Eastern States Express jack knifed and buried at East Thompson, December 4, 1891 (from Connecticut Railroads: an Illustrated History)

The few medical doctors and nurses in the area were said to have waited to see if any more trains were going to drive into the mess before attempting to help any of the injured people. It was miraculous that only two deaths resulted, the engineer and firemen of the Long Island & Eastern States Express. Hundreds were injured, and four locomotives wrecked. All told, the damage to railroad equipment and nearby property amounted to $36,000. By late afternoon on this day of the Great East Thompson Train Wreck, the parallel track number 1 had been cleared enough that the White Train could slowly chug through the debris filled and burned area. The New York and New England Railroad, always eager to earn a dollar, took advantage of the wreck and ran special trains from Boston and New Haven to view the wreckage for the next several days.

The New England Limited proved to provide the highest profit margin to the New York & New England Railroad, and helped the company out of receivership. But in 1895, the high costs of keeping the White Train white from the dust, smoke, and cinders resulted in its replacement by the Air Line Limited. Charles Peter Clark, who had lead the rise of the New York and New England was ousted the following year and replaced by a succession of poor railroad managers. In fact, Clark later became the president of the rival New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad.

The new management of the New York and New England developed an alliance with the New York, Lake Erie, & Western Railroad as well as the Housatonic Railroad, giving them a path from New York that would avoid using any rails of the rival New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. The Long Island & Eastern States Express train was put into service from New York to Boston following a new route. A unique feature of this short lived train was that it terminated in Norwalk where the railroad cars were put aboard a barge and floated across Long Island Sound to re-connect with the Long Island Railroad. For the New York and New England Railroad, this fulfilled a goal to avoid any rail lines of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. This round about way to reach New York City did capture the public's attention for a short time, but it set the resolve of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad to somehow crush their rivals. Internal problems arose at the New York & New England, and the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad cut off the N.Y. & N.E.'s access at New Haven. This forced them into receivership, and the railroad company returned as the New England Railroad for a brief time before being leased in its entirety to the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad in 1898. The New York and New England had ceased to exist, but was praised: "the New York & New England did some of the most spectacular railroading; and how it managed to put on so brave a show, to do so much with so little, is still a matter of wonder."8

The New York, New Haven, and Hartford continued to run passenger trains over the newly re-organized Airline Division, as it was called within the company. It was still popular and both the Air Line Limited and Long Island & Eastern States Express were frequently filled to capacity. But its popularity helped bring it to an end, the trains were unable to load more passengers and add more cars because they became to heavy for the grades and bridges along the route. The Boston to New York passenger service last used the Air Line through Connecticut on May 17, 1902. Both trains were suspended and replaced with service on the shore line route. The grand days of fast passenger trains hurtling through the eastern Connecticut countryside had come to and end.

While all these passenger trains had come and gone, freight service to and from the towns on the line had filled the rails with chugging trains and clattering box cars. One famous train was called the Cannonball Fish Train, and was made up solid with cars of fish, 5 nights a week, and were shipped from Boston to New York City. In the late summer, peach trains ran via the Air Line. At one time, 26 trains per day passed through Middlefield carrying peaches from eastern Connecticut bound for New Haven and New York. A schedule for engine crews once showed the following messages:

"August 19, 1893: NOTICE: Peach trains over the Air Line division will commence running tomorrow, Friday, and may be expected every day. Keep a look out for signals on regular trains and for extras [on] Sundays without signals." O.M. Shepard, superintendant9

Portland, Connecticut, had huge brownstone quarries near the Connecticut River. Many car loads of stone used in building the brownstone fronts of New York City and Boston were hauled from the Portland quarries. Reeds Gap, where Edwin Johnson had routed the Air Line through a ridge, became a major trap rock open quarry right on the rail line. Before the advent of paved roads in many rural communities of New England, trap rock from Middlefield was hauled over the Air Line to be spread on dirt roads.

The Air Line railroad at the turn of the century had been designed 54 years earlier, when locomotives were smaller, trains lighter, and fewer cars pulled. By this time, however, new technology in railroading was resulting in the Air Line being avoided. The grades of the railroad were too steep, many of the bridges including the Middletown draw bridge were low to the water and could not carry the weight of fully loaded modern trains, and the two trestle viaducts swayed and groaned under the weight of heavy freight trains. The numerous curves (there was only 3 miles of straight track on the 26 total miles from Portland to Willimantic) hampered the operation of freight trains on the line.

The railroad company recognizing that there was still profit to be made on the Air Line began by strengthening and raising low bridges, such as the iron trestle bridge over the Blackledge River in Colchester. Then, starting in 1912, engineers and construction workers began the gargantuan task of filling in the Lyman and Rapallo Viaducts. The alternative had been to strengthen and replace the bridges built in the 1870s, and this proved costly to the cash strapped company. Instead, culverts were placed beneath the bridges to carry the river's waters, and then hopper car after hopper car full of fine sand were pulled on to the structures and their contents dumped. Over 20 months, two massive ridges of sand were built up from the floor of the valleys until the iron bridges disappeared under the fill. When the iron work was covered, another foot of cinders was laid and compacted on to the surface of the fill to hold it in place. New tracks were then placed over the final layer. The iron work was covered on both viaducts until the early 1980s when a sewer line was laid along the route, exposing it for the first time in 70 years.10 See the link for photos of the creation of the Lyman Viaduct.

nh-scrip-logo.gifThe New York, New Haven and Hartford concentrated their passenger lines on the shore line route from Boston to New York, however, passenger trains from Boston to New Haven were still run on the Air Line, stopping at many of the smaller towns along the route. Freight continued to be carried across the line, relieving the shore line routes of slower traffic. High school trains in the morning and afternoon took students to and from the small out lying towns into Willimantic and Middletown. Thru passenger service between Boston and New York via Willimantic and New Haven ended in 1924, and all passenger service on the Air Line west of Willimantic was discontinued in 1937. Passenger trains continued to run from Boston to Willimantic, and then to Hartford until 1955.

In August, 1955, a bridge on the Air Line just west of Putnam was washed out during a flood. All rail service between Putnam and Pomfret was halted, as well as all passenger service on the line from connections in Blackstone and Hartford. The New Haven Railroad, successor to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad company, reasoned that there was no economic justification to replace the bridge for the $110,000 it would cost, and abandoned the line from Putnam to Pomfret, about 4 miles, in 1959. The link from Boston to New York designed in 1846 and completed in 1873 had been broken after operating for 86 years. "The route of The Ghost Train had itself become a phantom."11

Thru freight traffic was no longer possible, and this spelled the end for the Air Line between Willimantic and Putnam. There was simply not enough industry and commercial interests in the small towns the line now passed through to justify the maintenance and upgrading of the line. The New Haven Railroad went bankrupt in 1962, and this resulted in a large scale abandonment of unprofitable or marginally profitable rail lines. The railway between North Windham to Pomfret (about 18 miles) was abandoned in 1963, and the short section between Willimantic and North Windham continued in service until 1985, when this 5 mile section was abandoned as well.

In 1964, the entire section of the Air Line from Portland to Willimantic, including the Colchester Spur, was abandoned by the New Haven Railroad. This amounted to a total of 29 miles of line that was removed, only a three quarter mile section directly east of the Connecticut River drawbridge in Portland remained in service. Area residents of the towns the railroad crossed opposed the abandonment, and attempted to acquire the route. Most of the towns had invested significant amounts of money a century before, and considered themselves partial owners of the line. This argument did not fare well in legal circles, and was never brought to trial. Salvage workers remove the rail and most of the bridges from Portland to Willimantic in the spring of 1966.12 Rail ties were uprooted and thrown down the sides of embankments, and telegraph towers were chain sawed and left like fallen trees on the ground.

In March, 1968, another flood destroyed a bridge over the Blackstone River east of the Blackstone railroad station. The New Haven Railroad again suspended all service west of Blackstone on the line, through some freight service was still run sporadically from the connection in Putnam. Financially strapped, the company could not justify the $225,000 cost to repair the Blackstone River bridge and applied for abandonment of the line from Blackstone to Putnam in 1969. In 1970, the New Haven Railroad company was absorbed into the Penn Central railroad, which itself went bankrupt in 1976.

PWonMiddletownBridge.jpgToday, small sections of the Air Line remain in service. The section from New Haven to Middletown and Portland is operated by the Connecticut Central Railroad and the Providence and Worcester railroad. Similarly, small remaining sections are still operated near Willimantic, Putnam, and in southeast Massachusetts by Conrail, the Providence and Worcester railroad, and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

Interestingly enough, a spur line from the abandoned East Thompson station passed through Webster, Massachusetts to Southbridge. The line between Southbridge and Webster was run until 1985 and then abandoned. The track and ties have never been removed and remain in place today, a grim reminder of the rail history of the past 120 years.

After portions of the line were abandoned, the state of Connecticut stepped in to oversee the property. The portion of the Airline from East Hampton east to Willimantic, from Willimantic to Putnam, and in Thompson were placed under the control of the Department of Environmental Protection. Several miles were also given over to electric distribution rights of way for Connecticut Light & Power. Finally, a section from East Hampton to Colchester was used as a right of way for a buried sewer line connecting the two towns in 1982. The state government in the 1980s began planning the 50 plus mile greenway corridor from Portland to Thompson which would become one of New England's most treasured recreation paths.

In the 1990s, the Air Line was briefly in the news again as a potential path for high speed rail service from New York to Boston. Railroad consultants and regional transportation experts envisioned that the Air Line route was the only feasible way to establish passenger connections that would compete with airlines and interstate highways. But, just like at the turn of the century, the enormous cost of straightening the line's sharp curves and moderating the steep grades proved the end of the consideration. The Federal government instead funneled the funding to electrification of the shore line route, now overseen by Amtrak.

Today, the Air Line route with trail heads in East Hampton and Thompson, and passing through Putnam, Pomfret, Hampton, Chaplin, Windham, Lebanon, Columbia, Colchester, and Hebron reminds us of the halcyon days on The White Train in a new setting, a 50 plus mile trail for far more slower travelers.

1. Gregg M. Turner & Melancthon W. Jacobus, Connecticut Railroads: an Illustrated History (Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut Historical Society, 1989), p. 116
2. Turner & Jacobus, Ibid., p. 117
3. Turner & Jacobus, Ibid., p. 118
4. Turner & Jacobus, Ibid., p. 117
5. Ronald Dale Karr, Lost Railroads of New England (Pepperell, Massachusetts: Branch Line Press, 1996), p. 43
6. Turner & Jacobus, Ibid., p. 190
7. Bryan Morgan (Editor), The Great Trains (New York, New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1973), p. 162
8. Turner & Jacobus, Ibid., p. 196
9. Phillip C. Blakeslee, A History of Lines West of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Co. (1953), p. 17
10. Matthew Roth, Connecticut : An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites (Washington, D.C.: Society for Industrial Archeology , 1981),p. 150 & 209
11. Ronald Dale Karr, Ibid., p. 47
12. Joeseph Schwieterman, When the Railroad Leaves Town (Kirksville, Missouri: Truman State University Press, 2001), p. 13


Blakeslee, Phillip C. A History of Lines West of the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad Co. 1953
Della Penna, Craig. Great Rail-Trails of the Northeast North Amherst, Massachusetts: New England Cartographics, Inc., 1995
Karr, Ronald Dale. Lost Railroads of New England Pepperell, Massachusetts: Branch Line Press, 1996
Karr, Ronald Dale. The Rail Lines of Southern New England Pepperell, Massachusetts: Branch Line Press, 1995
Mascott, Cyntia. Official Rails to Trails Conservancy Handbook Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press, 2000
Morgan, Bryan (Editor). The Great Trains New York, New York: Crown Publishers Inc., 1973
Roth, Matthew. Connecticut: An Inventory of Historic Engineering and Industrial Sites Washington, D.C.: Society for Industrial Archeology , 1981
Schwieterman, Joeseph . When the Railroad Leaves Town Kirksville, Missouri: Truman State University Press, 2001
Turner, Gregg M. & Jacobus, Melancthon W. Connecticut Railroads: an Illustrated History Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut Historical Society, 1989

Page Last Updated: January 23, 2010