Sunday, August 17, 2014

On the Valley Line Today. . . in 1949

Two Long Freight Trains Pass Through Town During Day

Rocky Hill - Early Wednesday morning (August 17, 1949) a 50-car freight train drawn by two diesel engines passed through Rocky Hill as a result of the derailment of a freight train at Bolton. Traffic had to be rerouted through Middletown and Rocky Hill to Hartford for the Boston to Hartford run. A second train equally as long, but drawn by only one engine, went through Rocky Hill shortly before noon. The unusual activity on the line caused considerable comment as only three trains a week with few cars pass through the town normally.

Station Agent James W. Whitty announced that effective September 1, the freight office hours will be changed from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m Monday through Friday."

And that's the News on the Valley Line, August 17, 1949

(Makes me wonder whether the trains left the Midland in Willimantic and came down the Air Line to Middletown.  If they did, they would have had to back down that sharp quadrant track at the diamond to then be able to go north through Rocky Hill to Hartford.  Wow!  Though I suppose they could have gone down the Norwich & Worcester to New London, then west to Old Saybrook and then north.  Either way, it was quite a detour!)

(Special thanks to Bob Belletzkie for the article - and if you want to know ANYthing about stations on the New Haven Railroad, RUN don't walk to his website at


  1. John Wallace says:

    Just a thought. I suspect this was the Boston to Hartford Midland Div. freight (BA-1 ?) which usually arrived in Hartford between 4 and 7 am. The second train was, probably, the second half of the original train which had been split in Putnam or Willimatic to facilitate the difficult move at Middletown. The RR probably thought it better to route them over the Valley than fuss around at Cedar Hill which would have caused a longer delay. Some road foremen and trainmasters were probably rousted out of bed early in the AM to shepherd these moves to Hartford over territory unfamiliar to the crews. Also, the derailment possibly involved AB-2 which usually went through Bolton at 10pm or thereabouts.

    This may be totally wrong, but it's fun to speculate.

  2. Thanks for weighing in John!

    I still don't know whether they'd go up the Valley via New London/Old Saybrook or come down the AirLine to Middletown from Willimantic. Good arguments either way, course. airline route would be much more complicated and the track was probably not the greatest. But going via New London would likely have taken longer and might foul up the busy Shoreline.

    But yes, fun to speculate. Too bad nobody's still around that we could ask about that detour. And the Form 19s for those moves are lost to history I suspect.

  3. John Wallace says:

    My guess would be the Airline. The route is much shorter than New London and some of the light rail and ballast still in use on the lower Valley could be a negative for that option. Beyond that, if they were east [west, ed.] of Putnam when they heard about the problem in Bolton, New London would not have been an option. The airline track conditions were substantially better than the Valley tracks at that time. On fan trips of that era the ride was swift and smooth. The Midland and Airline was used regularly during steam years to break-in New Haven based engines that were overhauled at Readville They could run them at 20mph break-in speeds without fowling up Shoreline traffic. The Airline track with its heavier rails was good for all engines.