PAGE  213  - MAY 28, 2005

The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad 

Once the greatest of the greatest, the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad evolved through the acquisition of many railroads, but it was the merger of the Hartford & New Haven and the New York & New Haven that formed the basis for future growth.

The Hartford & New Haven made its inaugural run on December 14, 1839. The 36-mile journey between the state's (then) twin capital cities took approximately two and a half hours, as the train traveled at an astounding 20 miles per hour.

The New York & New Haven Railroad, chartered in Connecticut in May 1844, made its first run to New York on Christmas Day, 1846. Passengers disembarked at the corner of Canal Street and Broadway. It would be 1913 before Grand Central terminal opened.

The line to New York began as a single track and by 1858 was double-tracked. Leasing the New Haven & Northampton gave the line an alternate route to Massachusetts and ensured its permanent access to Manhattan over rails, reaching to what is now Park Avenue South.

On August 3, 1870, the New York & New Haven entered into an agreement with the Hartford & New Haven to operate jointly. An inaugural trial proved successful, and on August 6, 1872, the two combined to form the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Co. By 1893 the line had 1,493 miles of leased and owned track.

Expansion through leases escalated through the first decade of the 20th century. In 1927 the last merger took place as New Haven absorbed the Central New England Railroad.

A pioneer in electrification, the New Haven ran and operated the first electric train in the country in 1895, the 6.5-mile Nantasket Beach Branch. The company's four-track electrification project between New Haven and New York was completed in 1912.

The peak years for the New Haven were romantic times, with trains known by evocative names such as the Speed Witch and the White Train, also called the "Ghost Train" because of its white exterior trimmed in gold.

An increase in motor transportation and rising costs for railroads began to take their toll on the New Haven, as it did an all rail carriers after World War II. The New York, New Haven & Hartford filed for final bankruptcy on July 7, 1961. In 1969, federal regulators forced the Penn Central to absorb the New Haven, which had posted a $22 million deficit the previous year.

One year later the Penn Central crashed - the largest railroad failure in the history of the United States.

 


 

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