The branches of the New Haven Line, in pictures

Yesterday I featured the only outstanding New Haven Line branch station on our Tuesday Tour, Springdale. Now that the branches are complete, I thought it might be nice to post one of my favorite images from each station in a single gallery. It gives you a quick idea of what each branch is like, and a glimpse into the life of a commuter from each station. The locales photographed vary from outstanding examples of historical stations and well-known landmarks, to bare-bones, concrete platforms that are just barely stations. Each branch terminates at a historically-important station, though only one of the three is being used in its original capacity as a passenger station.

The photographs below were taken on eight separate days, ranging from early March to mid-October.

The New Canaan Branch:

The New Canaan branch is the shortest of the three (8.2 miles), and the closest to Grand Central. It is also the only branch that is currently electrified. The branch first came into being when chartered as the New Canaan Railroad in 1866. By 1890 it had become a part of the The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

The awesome: New Canaan station may be the nicest station of all three branches (one could argue that Waterbury is more iconic, however it is no longer in use by the railroad, whereas New Canaan is).
Most underwhelming: Everything other than New Canaan.

 
 
 
 
 

The Danbury Branch:

Of the three New Haven Line branches, the Danbury Branch has the most stations, with a total of seven. Though the line continues further north, Metro-North service terminates at Danbury. The original Danbury station still exists, though it is not used by Metro-North. Service first began here in 1852, and the rail line was known as the Danbury and Norwalk Railroad. In the late 1800’s the line was leased to the Housatonic Railroad, and later the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. By 1925 the track was electrified, but due to a poor economic situation, it was de-electrified in 1961.

The awesome: Danbury’s original station, yard, and turntable, now occupied the Danbury Railway Museum. Bethel’s old station is now a bike shop (I never got a photo of it). Cannondale’s old station is also lovely.
Most underwhelming: Without a doubt, Merritt 7. It is the only New Haven Line station without the typical Metro-North station sign, and is probably the most bare-bones station listed here.


 

 
 
 
 
 

The Waterbury Branch:

The Waterbury branch is Metro-North’s easternmost branch, and it diverges from the main line just east of Stratford. Although service terminates in Waterbury, the tracks do continue further north, and are used by the Railroad Museum of New England. Waterbury is located 87.5 miles from Grand Central – making it the furthest from the city in rail miles. The branch was originally chartered in 1845 as the Naugatuck Railroad (named after the river the tracks run alongside), and construction was completed by 1849. It was merged with the The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in 1906. Today, the branch has a reputation of serving both commuters and many sketchy people.

The awesome: Waterbury’s historical station (no longer used by the railroad) is one of, if not the most iconic structures in the city. The Naugatuck Historical Society is housed in their old station, which is also nice. You can get cool photos of the railroad bridge in Ansonia.
Most underwhelming: Beacon Falls and Ansonia. Oh, and don’t leave your car or any other valuables at Waterbury.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Do you have a favorite?

If I had to pick the branch that I liked the best, I’d have a difficult time of it. New Canaan is certainly my favorite station, but the rest of the branch is relatively boring. The Danbury branch has the adorably-cute Cannondale, and the old station which is now a museum. The sketchy people of the Waterbury branch make me weary of choosing it as my favorite, despite the fact that I like that little railroad bridge over the Naugatuck river. It is, however, undeniable that Waterbury has the most recognizable old station – though it is debatable whether people actually realize it was once a train station. We can settle this right now, with a poll. Vote for your favorite branch here:
[poll id=”2″]

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Tuesday Tour of the New Haven Line: Naugatuck

As a member of a younger generation in the US, trains for me are merely a method of transportation – a means for me to get to work, or to get into the city. I do know, however, that trains were not always for people, but for moving goods (of course there still are freight trains, but they are not nearly as abundant as they once were). Many local areas have identities based upon either the rail, or the items that were once produced there… though in most cases the rail is no longer there, or the items are no longer produced there. Canaan, for example, was known as a railroad town, at the junction of the Housatonic Railroad and the Central New England Railway. Despite the fact that rail service there ended long ago, and even after the historic station was partially destroyed by fire, Canaan still fiercely holds on to that identity.

Other towns hold onto their old identities as nicknames – Waterbury is the Brass City and Danbury is the Hat City. This week we’re hopping back to the Waterbury Branch, to take a look at Naugatuck. Naugatuck’s identity was based upon the rubber industry that operated there, and the railroad used for transporting it. The railroad arrived in Naugatuck in 1849, and much of the town’s success was based upon it, and the rubber. One of the last vestiges of that industry may be some old factory buildings, and the appropriately named street, Rubber Avenue, located not far from the railroad station.

Metro-North’s station in Naugatuck, located 82.5 miles from Grand Central, is the same small variety seen in the other stations we’ve been to on the Waterbury Branch. There is a small bus-style shelter, and there are no ticket machines. Platforms are low-level and accommodate one train car’s door for entering and exiting. Located alongside the station is the original Naugatuck station, which is now occupied by the Naugatuck Historical Society. The station was built in a Spanish Colonial Revival style and designed by architect Henry Bacon. Work on the station began in 1908, and it was completed in 1910. It remains in good condition, and is quite attractive. There is a museum inside, but I never got a chance to check it out while I was there.

 
  
   
 
  
 
   
 
  
 
   

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