History of the Central New England Railway


1866     Original Connecticut Western Charter. Envisioned by Egbert T. Butler in Norfolk, CT to go from the Canal Line at Collinsville to the Housatonic at Canaan. Funding failed to materialize.

1869     Amendment for the Connecticut Western RR charter to go from Hartford along the MA border through Winsted, Norfolk, and Canaan to State Line, CT.

1869     Ground broken in October at Winsted for the construction.

1871               Connecticut Western RR completed in September from Hartford through Winsted and Canaan to State Line (charter was only good in Connecticut) to meet with the 1.25 mile extension of the Dutchess & Columbia from Millerton, NY. The CW had trackage rights over the D&C RR into Millerton where it crossed over and interchanged with the New York & Harlem RR. Total trackage distance was 68 miles. Regular through service began December 21, 1871.Connections: Naugatuck RR at Winsted, Housatonic at Canaan, New York & Harlem at Millerton, Dutchess & Columbia at State Line

1878                Tariffville Wreck. January 15. 13 Killed and 70 injured. 2 Locomotives. Baggage car and 3 coaches went into the Farmington River.

1880     April - Bankruptcy

1881     Reorganization as Hartford & Connecticut Western RR

1882     Purchase of Rhinebeck & Connecticut RR that operated between Rhinecliff, NY and Boston Corners, NY. Also bought the trackage between Boston Corners and State Line from the Poughkeepsie, Hartford & Boston RR (later the  Poughkeepsie & Eastern RR). They now had trackage all the way to the Hudson River.

1888     Poughkeepsie River Bridge opened.

1889     The Central New England & Western organized on 22 July to operate the bridge and its connecting lines 2 connecting lines : The Hudson Connecting RR (from Campbell Hall Jct to the bridge) and the Poughkeepsie & Connecting RR (from the bridge to Silvernails, NY).

1889     H&CW Absorbed (leased) by Central New England & Western RR. Controlled by the owners of the 6600 foot Poughkeepsie River Bridge. Passenger trains including the Boston to Harrisburg “Day Express” and the Boston to Washington D.C. “Federal”.

1892     Merged with Philadelphia & Reading RR on 1 August , Poughkeepsie River Bridge Company and its western approaches and renamed Philadelphia, Reading & New England RR. All controlled by A.A. McLeod. McLeod bought control of New York & New England RR and Boston & Maine RR.

1893     McLeod in ruins and PR & NE RR on it own.

1889     Foreclosure on 6 October

1899     PR & NE RR reorganized to form Central New England Railway on 12 January

1900     Began 14 mile extension from Tariffville, CT to B&A at Agawam Junction. NYNH&H played legal games until 1904

1903     NYNH&H acquired CNE but CNE retains its identity and is operated separately from the rest of the system.

1904     Springfield Branch opens.

1907     Bought Poughkeepsie & Eastern Rwy and merged with Dutchess County RR (Poughkeepsie Bridge to Hopewell Jct) and Newburgh, Dutchess & Connecticut RR (Hopewell Jct to State Line) on 25 June

1921     Abandonment of trackage from Agawam Jct to Feeding Hills, MA. Tracks remained in place until 1938.

1926     CNE merged into NYNH&H system.

1927     Passenger service on the CNE ended in December.

1932     Connection between old CW line and Poughkeepsie Bridge severed. Service suspended on key segments on the CNE mainline. Fragmenting the CNE into a series of short NH branch lines.

1937     Formal abandonment of the system begun.

1940     Most of the CNE is abandoned and torn up.


10 miles of CNE from Canaan to Lakeville survived until 1965 as a branch of the NH

A short stretch of the former Springfield Branch at Simsbury was in use until 1968.

Aside from isolated short segments used as yard or industrial trackage, the only significant portion of the CNE remaining in service is the initial 8 miles of the old railroad, from Hartford to Griffins, CT. in the early 1970’s freight traffic on this branch of the Penn Central was so slight that the federal government proposed that it be excluded from the Conrail system. Vigorous local and state objections reversed the recommendation. In 1982 the B&M took over operation of the branch from Conrail but discontinued operation soon afterwards. Recently, the line was upgraded and was slated to be back in service in 1996.


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