Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-xiv

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Prologue

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pp. xv-xvi

This book offers a glimpse into the history and stories surrounding the rail line stretching along the lower Connecticut River. Using historical documents, photos and vignettes, I have gone beyond the tracks to the surrounding areas, the people and the events that occurred from the line’s inception to the present day. An admirer of railroads from my early childhood, I have been involved with railroading for most of my adult life. After a year with Amtrak I took full-time employment with the Valley Railroad...

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Chapter 1 Events Leading Up to the Construction of the Railroad

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pp. 1-10

On Thursday, April 20, 1870, over a thousand people gathered for the Connecticut Valley Railroad groundbreaking ceremony at James C. Walkley’s Haddam farm. The guests started to arrive in carriages at about ten in the morning and by noon a large crowd had assembled to witness this historic event. The group, led by the Chester Drum Band, headed down the hill from the house to a point near the Connecticut River where a line of stakes marked the center line of the new railroad. The ceremony centered on a number of spades next to carts and wheelbarrows. President Walkley, who had granted his land...

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Chapter 2 The Business of Building the Railroad

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pp. 11-48

On December 31, 1870 the CVRR issued $1,000,000 first mortgage bonds with the treasurer of the State of Connecticut as trustee. Unfortunately, the railroad eventually defaulted on $35,000 of unpaid interest due these bonds, and on January 9, 1878, the treasurer of the State of Connecticut took possession of the CVRR. But in early 1871, the business of operating the CVRR was in full swing. Railroad contractors Dillon, Clyde & Co. took $25,000 worth of stock by contractual agreement. The largest individual citizen stockholders were Luther Boardman of East Haddam, $5,200; James C....

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Chapter 3 Operation of the Connecticut Valley Railroad

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pp. 49-66

On Saturday, July 29, 1871, the first trip over the full length of the CVRR was completed; however, there was an earlier excursion run on the 4th of July, between Deep River and Saybrook Point with a return to Deep River. This short excursion was organized and run by Samuel L. Loomis, the subcontractor that built the line from Saybrook Point to Chester. He used the new locomotive No. 1, the J .C . Walkley and two platform (flat) cars fitted with “comfortable and substantial seats.”11 One hundred fifty guests joined Loomis on the 90-minute round-trip....

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Chapter 4 Connecticut Valley Railroad’s Locomotives and Rolling Stock

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pp. 67-70

Connecticut Valley Railroad owned nine 4-4-0 “American” type locomotives as listed below:...

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Chapter 5 The Springfield to Old Saybrook Route

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pp. 71-74

n November 1875 the CVRR negotiated a lease of the Connecticut Central Railroad for $28,000 per year and the Springfield & New London Railroad for $8,000 per year. Both of the proposed leases were for a five-year period. It also negotiated with the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill Railroad for trackage rights from East Hartford into downtown Hartford. Negotiations were begun with the Springfield, Athol & Northeastern Railroad for a connection from the Springfield & New London Railroad to Springfield....

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Chapter 6 The End of the Connecticut Valley Railroad and on to the Hartford & Connecticut Valley Railroad

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pp. 75-78

The Connecticut Valley Railroad struggled to carry a financial burden beyond its capacity. On January 9, 1878, as a result of $35,000 of interest in arrears from the previous July, the railroad was surrendered to the treasurer of the State of Connecticut, trustee for the original first mortgage bondholders. This was the only time that the treasurer of the State of Connecticut was a trustee in a railroad bankruptcy. This lasted until July 1, 1880. A charter for its successor, the Hartford & Connecticut Valley Railroad Company (H&CVRR) was approved by the legislature on March 28, 1879....

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Chapter 7 Train Wrecks and Accidents

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pp. 79-88

On January 9, 1872 there was an accident near Rocky Hill when the locomotive Greenfield, a 4-4-0 American type built by Hinkley Locomotive Works in 1865, and leased to CVRR from the Fitchburg Railroad, collided with a hand car and flat car loaded with rails. The engine was “seriously injured,” causing another engine to make an extra trip every night. Sparks from engines and dry conditions caused several fires along the line that day....

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Chapter 8 The Competition: Boats, Cast Iron Wheels and Rubber Tires

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pp. 89-92

Steamboat competition was powerful enough to stall the building of the CVRR for more than a decade; and soon after the railroad opened, it without a doubt cut into the steamboat business. Not only did the railroad gain a large portion of the passenger business from the riverboats and stagecoach lines, it also cut into the boat’s freight revenues. Forward thinking employees jumped ship and joined the railroad. Among others, Conductor Justin B. Holman, who had been a clerk on the river steamboat...

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Chapter 9 Abandonment of Service and New Charters

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pp. 93-100

Traffic volume on the Valley Line south of Middletown was light. Even before World War II service south of Middletown to stations north of Deep River occurred only tri-weekly. The Shore Line local from Cedar Hill to Saybrook would operate to Essex and Deep River five or six days per week. After 1953, service to Essex was handled by the local freight service from New London with Deep River served tri-weekly from Hartford....

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Chapter 10 Washouts

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pp. 101-106

When you build a railroad next to a river, you have to expect water problems. Remarkably, the CVRR did an exceptional job keeping the track fit for travel. Nevertheless, there were some notable washouts.
The Penny Press, Hartford Daily Courant and New Era all headlined the blizzard of 1888, which caused 10- to 20-foot drifts to accumulate in areas along the Connecticut River valley. Buildings collapsed, chimneys tumbled, telephone and telegraph wires...

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Chapter 11 The Valley Railroad’s Chinese Locomotive No. 1647

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pp. 107-110

In 1985, the Valley Railroad Company decided to try to obtain a brand new steam locomotive from China, where they were still being mass-produced. Four years later, in 1989, that goal was achieved. Board Member Bob Bell and Chief Mechanical Officer J. David Conrad, negotiated with Tangshan Locomotive & Rolling Stock Works.
The State of Connecticut insisted that the new boiler must be built equivalent to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) code for power boilers. The...

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Chapter 12 The Valley Line on the Big Screen

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pp. 111-116

The Valley Line has played several small roles in movies and television shows throughout the years, both before and in its current incarnation. It has also been featured in a music video, fashion and catalog shoots, commercials, and book covers. Listed below are just a few:
A film called Emperor of the North (1973, dir. Robert Aldrich) features a hobo known as A-Number 1. While the film was fiction and was not filmed on location in Connecticut, A-Number 1 was real. On July 23, 1913 he arrived in Middletown on the Valley train from New London where a local newspaper interviewed him and reported:...

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Epilogue

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pp. 117-118

During the long delay between writing and publishing this book, several accomplishments have happened, helping to ensure the longevity of the Valley Railroad. Most significantly, the Valley Railroad negotiated a longer-term lease with the State of Connecticut in 2014 with a renewable clause.
The railroad took ownership of the Becky Thatcher, the connecting riverboat. With this transaction, the Valley Railroad achieved a major economic goal with the reduction...

Appendix 1 Along the Connecticut Valley Line: Timeline and Track Stats

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pp. 119-122

Appendix 2 Connecticut Valley & Springfield Railroad Schedule, 1876

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pp. 123-124

Endnotes

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pp. 125-126

Bibliography

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pp. 127-128

Acknowledgments

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pp. 129-130

Index

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pp. 131-144