Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

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Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby khansingh » Thu Aug 30, 2012 6:51 pm

I wonder, does anyone know when the last intercity passenger trains would have stopped at Danbury and Waterbury? I'm guessing that it was before Amtrak.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:02 am

This is kind of a tall question. I suppose the last intercity train at Danbury was just before Amtrak when the Pittsfield trains made their last trips. They were one Budd Car at the end but on the New Haven they had a parlor car on 144 Fridays and 147 on Sundays and up until sometime in the 60's they had a dining car of sorts on 144 and 141 as well.
Waterbury goes back much farther, August 18, 1955 was the last day for the two through round trips to Boston both of which normally had Budd Cars but sometimes 131 and 136 would run with a locomotive, RPO and one or more coaches. The last through trains to Winsted ran their last trips at the same time although after the 1955 flood they finally did restore service with a single Budd Car to Winsted but it came off in December, 1958. The last New York - Boston train via Waterbury ran in the 20's with through parlor and buffet cars, I don't have the exact date handy.
A lot of information can be found in old timetables of which I have quite a few.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby khansingh » Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:39 pm

So just commuter trains and freight at Waterbury since 1955? I guess it a lucky thing that the newspaper took over the station. Thanks.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:32 pm

I suppose today you could call the Waterbury trains commuter trains but I do not think that in the later 50's after the flood that they could be considered commuter trains. The only train that would get you into New York was the 6:52 AM out of Waterbury which connected with train 369 at Bridgeport and got to New York after 9:00 AM while there was 4:00 PM train through to Waterbury and a 6:00 PM train to Boston with a Waterbury connection. There was a morning train to Hartford and an afternoon train back from Hartford both of which carried commuters from Waterbury and the stations on that line enroute to Hartford. The Boston trains probably were more or less intercity trains more than commuter trains as were the trains out of Winsted. Train 153 from Winsted to New York (a through train by the way until the 1955 floods) arrived in New York at 10:00 AM which was a three hour trip from Winsted and a two hour trip from Waterbury. That train changed to an electric motor at Bridgeport and after leaving Bridgeport it was 125th Street next. The motor came down from New Haven light to Bridgeport. The heaviest travel on the Naugy was on weekends. You could ride 153 to New York and an evening return on both Saturday and Sunday for the fare of $2.49 which eventually went up to $2.60. The tickets were only good on the two trains already printed on the ticket and both trains ran with a lot of coaches. I can well remember 153 with 12 or 14 coaches out of Waterbury with two RS-3's for power. Same thing going back in the evening but the return trains were different on Saturday and on Sunday. If for any reason you did not use that excursion ticket back to your station that particular day on that particular train it became absolutely worthless with no value for either redemption nor for transportation. It was a great deal. All of the stations had ticket offices and they were open for the excursion trains and tickets had to be purchased in advance in order to get the excursion fare.
As for the station in Waterbury, I can remember when the whole building was used for railroad purposes and the interior of the station was a place of beauty. The station had a huge ticket office with four ticket windows for the railroad and another office with windows close by for Western Union. It had a full time stationmaster, newstand, shoe shine, restaurant, baggage room and a subway underneath the tracks to reach tracks one and the Winsted Main both of which were well used for passenger trains. Hartford and Boston trains departed from track two, New York trains on track one while the Winsted trains used the Winsted Maine for Winsted and the Winsted - New York trains westbound also used the Winsted Main. Most of the trains carried checked baggage and some of them carried mail and express as well. Most of the trains required a change at Bridgeport and often at Bridgeport the Waterbury passengers had a choice of a train to Grand Central Terminal or a train to Philadelphia and Washington via Penn Station. Last train to Winsted was in early December, 1958 and the last train to Hartford was in early 1960. I have copies of the train off notices in both cases and rode the last Budd Car to Winsted in a snowstorm. Of course I have a lot of memories from this area.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby khansingh » Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:19 pm

I was having a look around at the station a couple of months ago. I found that the tracks over Freight St. looked pretty ragged. As a matter of fact, the entire depot was twisted and warped. It was like something out of Life After People. Interestingly, there is still a working switch on the opposite end of the depot from the platform. The old passenger shelter connected to the station looks pretty forlorn, rusted and wood rotting. I found it symbolic that the "WATERBURY" sign was worn and peeling. I'm sure that the R-A has enough on its plate, but I wonder if they couldn't rehab the building somewhat. The southern wing of the building is completely disused. I had read that it was used as a waiting room after the newspaper took over the rest of the station, but it's now completely vacant. A guy who was there to pick up someone saw me and thought I was looking for the ticket office. We talked a little about the station and the branch. There is a fence with razor wire enclosing the rear part of the station that is used by the R-A. I noticed a bay window on the other side of fence. Could that have been the station master's window, or perhaps a ticket window? Also, I seem to remember a picture of the station from its height, and I think there was a canopy covering the platform. It would be great to see pictures of the depot when it was crowded with trains and passengers. Thanks again.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:44 pm

In my last message I didn't really cover what happened when the New Haven Railroad vacated the main part of the building and used what was considered the south wing. The south wing originally housed the restaurant, baggage room and maybe some other functions. When the railroad moved to the south wing after alterations, the ticket office was still pretty good size as it housed on the day trick the ticket agent, an operator, clerk for reservations, another clerk for tickets and the telephone operator. The joke was that they stumbled over each other. You could still see where the stools were at the counter in the restaurant right by the ticket windows of which there were two. There was still a newstand and a shoe shine (Joe) and the shoe shine lasted for some time even after the floods resulted in less service. Joe did a lot of shoes, when I was in the Naval Reserve the folks there told us if we couldn't see our face in our shoes they needed a shine and they recommended Joe at the railroad station. Joe did a good business as a result of the USNRTC in Waterbury. The express office was also moved from the north wing to the south end of the south wing. As a result the south wing contained the passenger station, waiting room, ticket office, baggage room, express office, downstairs the telephone maintainer and after 1958 what remained of the car department and engine house operation. After the yard office closed in the early 70's the yardmaster was also moved to the station but by then the express office had closed because Railway Express Agency was no more. If buildings could talk the Waterbury Railroad Station could tell a lot of stories of glory days of the past. I almost forget the second floor originally was high above the main waiting room and the second floor housed the Waterbury Division Offices until the Waterbury Division was merged into the Hartford Division in the 30's. After that the second floor still housed a few offices including the police department, trainmaster, division freight agent and probably one or two more that I don't recall today. After the building was sold and the railroad vacated the main part of this building the remaining offices in the station were relocated to the second floor of the freight office on Freight Street. While you would never know it today, Waterbury years ago was a very, very important point on the New Haven Railroad.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby khansingh » Sat Sep 01, 2012 7:30 pm

I can believe it, especially considering Waterbury's strategic importance during the war. Thanks for all of the information.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby khansingh » Sat Sep 01, 2012 7:35 pm

One last question. When did the commuter shuttle to Bridgeport originate? I always assumed that Metro-North inherited it from their predecessors.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:18 pm

When did the shuttles originate? Let's see, way back in probably the early 1900's at Winsted. I think around 1929 when the trolley cars came off between Waterville and Thomaston and between Torrington and Winsted, both lines were discontinued at the same time and replaced by a through bus between Waterbury and Winsted and I seem to think that this bus replaced most of the midday trains between Waterbury and Winsted as well. Prior to that there were Waterbury - New Haven shuttles, Waterbury - Bridgeport shuttles, Waterbury - Winsted shuttles and Winsted - Bridgeport shuttles as well. In the days when there were a couple of through New York - Boston trains that operated via Waterbury, Hartford, Willimantic and Putnam they ran express over much of the route and a local would follow making the local stops. In the case of Winsted a train would come out of Winsted and the passengers could cross the platform at Waterbury and take a Boston - New York express out of Waterbury while the Winsted train would follow a few minutes after as a local to Bridgeport. When you look at Waterbury today and see everything that remains even in an advanced state of decay, you can imagine what was there many years ago. Up until maybe the mid 50's there was action in Waterbury 24/7 and even after the floods for a while there were still quite a few employees based in Waterbury. It is a far cry from today when to the best of my knowledge there are no railroad employees of any kind actually based in Waterbury. Even though I remember a lot of things in Waterbury there are a few things that I remember but never did. One was the fact that the only time I was ever inside the tower at Bank Street Junction was after the flood when the whole place had been damaged and was never again returned to operation, I did rescue the train register from there and still have it, another was that I never rode the Budd Cars from Waterbury to Boston althought I did ride them to Hartford many times and rode most of the line except for the territory between Willimantic and Blackstone. I was nursing a broken leg from a skiing accident in 1955 and wasn't able to do much on my own until I was off the crutches and that did not happen until almost the day of the flood.
The Hartford - Maybrook freight jobs came off not too long before the August 19, 1955 flood but even after that they would occasionally run an extra out of Hartford and Waterbury to Maybrook, there was still a huge amount of freight dispatched in and out of Waterbury daily. We did have two rouond trips between Cedar Hill and Waterbury for some time after the floods one of which went direct from Waterbury to East Bridgeport with hot cars for the PRR for NE-1 at East Bridgeport. The cars left Waterbury in the evening and were in Greenville, NJ the next morning and bound for never, never land on the PRR soon after, that was good service for good customers and the railroad had good customers in the Naugatuck Valley in those days.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby TomNelligan » Sun Sep 02, 2012 3:27 pm

As one who grew up in the Naugatuck Valley in the New Haven RR years, I really appreciates Mr. Weaver's historical notes here and elsewhere on the net. He's a little older than me and remembers a lot more! By the time I was old enough to pay attention in the late 1950s, there were four RDC round trips a day between Waterbury and Bridgeport, and that patten continued unchanged until service increased under Metro-North in the 1980s.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby khansingh » Sun Sep 02, 2012 8:08 pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnUylNzPVVs

You might like this Super 8 of the branch from the mid eighties, taken from the front end of a Budd SPV. As you can see, it's before they opened the station in Beacon Falls and when Track 1 still abutted the station. Since this time, it's been replaced by the new station and the parking lot.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby Backshophoss » Sun Sep 02, 2012 10:02 pm

One of the rare times CDOT 50 (aka"Lizzie")worked the Waterbury Branch.
It's a shame the 2nd main is gone between Devon-Derby Jct.
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby Lincoln78 » Mon Sep 03, 2012 7:37 am

Sad to think that all of the switches in that film once served a working business (from both the railfanning and jobs perspective..).
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby Ridgefielder » Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:39 am

khansingh wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnUylNzPVVs

You might like this Super 8 of the branch from the mid eighties, taken from the front end of a Budd SPV. As you can see, it's before they opened the station in Beacon Falls and when Track 1 still abutted the station. Since this time, it's been replaced by the new station and the parking lot.

It looks like the entire line is on a curve!
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Re: Last passenger trains at Danbury & Waterbury

Postby TCurtin » Mon Sep 03, 2012 11:07 am

If I may add a remark to Noel's great (as usual) recollections of the Winsted trains, something that made them unusual for secondary main passenger runs in trhe 50s was the use of 8600 stainless coaches as far back as 1949 (to judge from a date on a photo). The railroad didn't generally do this, so I surmise it was done for either a marketing reason or a "political" one. By "political" I mean that perhaps a power figure in the railroad lived along the line; perhaps a board member, perhaps some top-line big customer executive, perhaps a government official whose friendship was important to the railroad.

8600's weren't on every Winsted train but according to my Consist books were on 153-158 . Train 153 left Winsted with one 8600 coach and added a second at Waterbury. The reverse was done going north.

I can tell you assuredly and categorically that we didn't see that on The Berkshire Line. Yes, we had dining and weekend parlor service but we never saw a stainless car of any kind until 1957 or 1958! (My Consist books bear out that statement).
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