The Central Vermont Railway, "The Green Mountain Route"
The Central Vermont Railway was another of the fabled New England railroads (like the Boston & Maine, Rutland, Maine Central, and others) that once connected southern Connecticut (at New London) with Montreal, Quebec
on the U.S./Canadian border. While the CV did have money troubles at
various times throughout its history the railroad was a mostly
profitable system ferrying traffic to and from the U.S. and Canada
(somewhat interesting considering that the nearby Rutland Railroad was always having financial woes and eventually shutdown in 1961). After the Canadian National
Railway, which had controlled the CV for many years, became a private
company in 1995, it sold the railroad, which eventually became part of
today’s New England Central Railroad, which remains a profitable operation.
The CV dates back to late 1845 when the Vermont Central Railroad began construction to connect Burlington, Vermont with the capital at Montpelier, and then south to Windsor, Connecticut.
Unfortunately, due to rough terrain, the railroad was forced to reach
the capital via a branch instead of a through main line as it had
originally intended. Despite this setback, by 1849 the railroad had connected Burlington with both Windsor and Montpelier. While the Vermont Central had financial troubles during the 1850s it remained solvent and by 1864 had reached the major interchange point of Montreal via the Montreal & Vermont
Junction Railway, giving the railroad tremendous amounts of through
traffic. By the late 19th century, through mergers and leases the
railroad (having changed its name in 1873 to the Central Vermont Railroad) had reached its maximum length (over 360 miles) connecting New London with Montreal along with a few branch lines diverging from its main line.
Because of the prosperity the railroad was able to reap during much of
the latter half of the 19th century it was even able to lease nearby
competitor Rutland in 1871. The Rutland Railroad was a fabled system located in the New England area. Based out of Rutland, Vermont
the railroad is best remembered for the large amount of milk and dairy
products it moved over its system and its classic forest green and yellow
livery. The railroad finally succumbed to a long battle of money
troubles in the early 1960s when a strike collapsed any hope of the Rutland staying solvent as it shutdown operations in 1961. Today, happily, much of the former Rutland Railroad system is still operated by successor Green Mountain
Railroad, which hauls both freight and excursion passenger service over
the line, much to the delight of the thousands of passengers which
arrive annually to ride aboard its popular trains.
Unfortunately, in 1898 the CV fell into receivership and was forced to divest itself of the Rutland, along with the Sullivan County Railroad, which connected Windsor, New Hampshire and Bellow Falls, Vermont. It was the loss of this railroad that significantly hurt the CV as it was a key route in its system connecting Montreal and New London (and unfortunately, the gap would remain so until the government gave the line back to the CV in the 1980s). After the 1898 bankruptcy the original CV it emerged as the Central Vermont Railway and throughout the first years of the 20th century the railroad did quite well earning
handsome profits. It was also around this time that the CV came under
the control of the Grand Trunk Railway, which in turn became part of the
Canadian National Railway system in 1923, thus making CN the new parent of the CV. In 1927 the railroad again fell into bankruptcy but soon emerged under guidance of its parent and renamed the Central Vermont Railway, Inc.
Still, while after this point the CV was no longer independent it did
keep much of its corporate identity and was run as a separate railroad
from the rest of the CN system. Until the CV was spun-off by the Canadian National Railway in 1995 it remained a mostly profitable system, although it did have a few financial crunch periods along the way. By the time the railroad was sold in early 1995 to RailTex shortline, New England Central Railroad, it was again turning healthy profits. Today, the railroad is no more having been assimilated into the New England Central system but its original main line remains an important part of the NECR system.
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For more reading on the Central Vermont Railway you might want to consider the book Canadian National Railway
by author Tom Murray, which covers the CV's parent. The book gives an
excellent general history of the railroad so if you are particularly
looking for a starting point about learning more on the CN and its long
history from the early 20th century until today I would very much
suggest starting with Mr. Murray's book. If you're interested in
perhaps purchasing this book please visit the link above which will take
you to ordering information through Amazon.com.
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