August 19, 1955 - August 19, 2015

Discussion relating to the NH and its subsidiaries (NYW&B, Union Freight Railroad, Connecticut Company, steamship lines, etc.). up until its 1969 inclusion into the Penn Central merger. This forum is also for the discussion of efforts to preserve former New Haven equipment, artifacts and its history. You may also wish to visit www.nhrhta.org for more information.

August 19, 1955 - August 19, 2015

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Aug 19, 2015 4:52 pm

PLEASE never forget August 19, 1955, 60 years ago today, the day of the worst floods ever to hit the Naugatuck Valley and other parts of Connecticut and in fact Southern New England as well.

In the Naugatuck Valley the line between Waterbury and Derby Junction was virtually wiped out with the big bridge at Bank Street Junction in Waterbury the bridge at Seymour (still two tracks at that time, one was a siding) also wiped out. The bridge at Derby Junction was badly damaged which also knocked out the Maybrook Line for a spell. It also knocked out SS-202 at Bank Street Junction for all time although SS-202 would probably not have lasted too many more years anyway. It was a long time before any trains could operate between Waterbury and Devon and DN-1 and ND-2 operated via Plainville, New Britain and Berlin. It took more power to run this train this way because of the severe grades but at least Waterbury was connected by rail. The line east to Plainville and Hartford suffered some damage but nowhere near the magnitude that the Naugy did. Although the Hartford - Maybrook jobs were a victim of McGinnis cuts earlier that year the passenger jobs really took a big hit. We lost the through morning train to New York and not only did the passengers from the Naugy have to change at Bridgeport but in addition it was a several stops local from there to New York so instead of two hours flat from Waterbury to New York it was 2 hours and 30 to 45 minutes. Winsted service was another sore point, the railroad first said they did not want to rebuild the line between Waterville and Winsted but there was still a lot of freight business in Torrington so they backed down on that one. Burwell Lumber was the big customer in Winsted at the time but it got served three times a week, what saved Winsted was that the line was not as badly damaged between Torrington and Winsted as it was between Torrington and Waterville. Passenger service between Waterbury and points east to Hartford and Boston got the worst hit, no more service to Boston (before the flood we had two through trains to and from Boston, one in the morning and one in the afternoon). Service to Hartford returned not long after the flood and was the only railroad passenger service in and out of Waterbury until February, 1956. When the service returned to Bridgeport that February the railroad flatly said no more passenger trains between Waterbury and Winsted but the State of Connecticut PUC had other ideas and finally a Budd Car made two trips a day but most of the time only one had a connection beyond Waterbury. Over east at Putnam a bridge on the Hartford - Boston got washed out and the railroad flatly stated they would not rebuild it. With that bridge went any possibility of Waterbury - Boston ever again and in fact after the flood we only had two round trips between Waterbury and Hartford and one of them came off not too long after the flood. I think the only thing that saved any passenger service in Waterbury was the huge freight business that came in and out of Waterbury and most of it returned after the flood. McGinnis to his credit traipsed through a good part of the Naugatuck Valley by helicopter inspecting the damage to the railroad which was everywhere. Other parts of the New Haven suffered too: there was damage to the Berkshire in Litchfield County, the Canal where a SB freight train got marooned near Farmington for some period of time as well as the washed out bridge in Putnam which was never repaired. Other railroads did not escape this horror either, the Boston and Albany Division of the New York Central was closed for some time due to washouts and bridge damage and had to detour their trains over the Boston and Maine Fitchburg Division out of Boston. The Central Vermont Southern Division especially south of Palmer suffered a lot of damage and they had steam powered work trains out for weeks doing repairs.

McGinnis said right after the flood that the railroad would be back bigger and better than ever, it came back at least all except the Putnam Bridge but bigger and better NO! So this is an important date in the history of the New Haven Railroad and PLEASE don't ever forget it.

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Re: August 19, 1955 - August 19, 2015

Postby YamaOfParadise » Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:27 pm

Didn't most of the Dublin Street Branch in Waterbury get wiped out too? I remember reading that somewhere when I was looking into information about that branch; I believe I read it from one of your posts over in the NHRHTA forums, in fact.
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Re: August 19, 1955 - August 19, 2015

Postby Noel Weaver » Wed Aug 19, 2015 7:07 pm

Yes it did, at least the wooden trestle portion was wiped out but they replaced that with a steel structure. Scovill still did a big business with the NHRR and during some of the time one of their officers was also on the B O D for the New Haven Railroad. We had a middle trick switcher called the Dublin Street that spent most of its time working Scovill. They also got switched on Saturday and Sunday but on those days it was a short out and back.
Waterbury was still a very important point on the NHRR even after the 1955 flood.
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Re: August 19, 1955 - August 19, 2015

Postby FLRailFan1 » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:09 pm

I wonder what would the NH be like if they didn't have the flooding in 55. I wonder if Winsted would be served by the Naugatuck today. I wonder if the NH would continue a Waterbury Boston train. I know that you can't change history, but I wonder what a revised history would be.
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Re: August 19, 1955 - August 19, 2015

Postby TomNelligan » Fri Apr 22, 2016 8:53 pm

No as to Winsted, since the line was rebuilt for freight service after the 1955 flood. It lasted until 1963, at which point it was abandoned due to a lack of business. The only NH line that was never restored after the flood was the Pomfret-Putnam section of the Highland, due to the bridge collapse that Mr. Weaver mentions. By 1955 the sole remaining Boston-Waterbury train was down to just one or two RDCs, hardly a booming business, and my guess is that it would have soon been discontinued anyway.
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Re: August 19, 1955 - August 19, 2015

Postby Jeff Smith » Sat Apr 23, 2016 8:57 am

I'd have to look at the CT Rail Map and NEC Future materials, but the Pomfret - Putnam stretch was part of the inland route, wasn't it? Who knows, it may in the distant future see service again. It's not all that far off to Manchester...
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Re: August 19, 1955 - August 19, 2015

Postby Noel Weaver » Sat Apr 23, 2016 12:52 pm

TomNelligan wrote:No as to Winsted, since the line was rebuilt for freight service after the 1955 flood. It lasted until 1963, at which point it was abandoned due to a lack of business. The only NH line that was never restored after the flood was the Pomfret-Putnam section of the Highland, due to the bridge collapse that Mr. Weaver mentions. By 1955 the sole remaining Boston-Waterbury train was down to just one or two RDCs, hardly a booming business, and my guess is that it would have soon been discontinued anyway.


One more portion of line also got wiped out in August, 1955 and was never restored and it was Collinsville - New Hartford which the New Haven had tried to dump back around 1950 or so. I have some clips on this one. This area was badly damaged by the Farmington River.
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