Unfortunately, unfulfilled traffic potential resulted in financial troubles finding its way to the Connecticut Valley Railroad when it defaulted on its loans and entered receivership in 1876. It was reorganized as the Hartford & Connecticut Valley Railroad (H&CV) on July 1, 1880 although future independent operation was short-lived. The New York, New Haven & Hartford system was formed in 1872 through the merger of the New York & New Haven and Hartford & New Haven railroads forming one of southern New England's largest systems. It steadily grew throughout the remainder of the 19th century, gobbling up the H&CV in 1882 and acquiring total control by 1892.
The "Essex Steam Train" Locomotive Roster
Valley Railroad 2-8-2 #40 (Out-of-service. Originally built by the American Locomotive Company's Brooks Works in 1920 as Portland, Astoria & Pacific Railroad #101. Later acquired by the Minarets & Western Railway and Southern Pacific before being sold to the Aberdeen & Rockfish.)
New Haven Railroad 2-8-2 #3025 (Operational. Originally built by the Tangshan Locomotive & Rolling Stock Works at Tangshan in Hebei, China during July of 1989 as Class SY #1658. Acquired through the Knox & Kane Railroad liquidation auction on October 10th and 11th, 2008. The Mikado resembles a NYNH&H Class J-1.)
Simon Wrecking 0-6-0T #2 (Cosmetically restored. Originally built by the H.K. Porter Company in 1920.)
Valley Railroad 2-8-0 #97 (Out-of-service. Originally built by the American Locomotive Company's Cooke Works in 1923 as Birmingham & Southeastern Railway #200.)
In the following years the New Haven amassed a system of more than 1,800 miles, comprising more than 200 predecessor companies. It stretched from Boston to New York with a main line running near the Atlantic Coast and Long Island Sound between Boston and New York. It also reached into the interior at locations such as Worcester and Pittsfield while lines also stretched to Nantucket Sound and Cape Cod Bay as far as Provincetown. The New Haven became the unmatched leader in handling commuters and passengers between its two largest cities with a network that served virtually every major suburb while its electrified main routes offered high speeds and quick transit times.
The line now operated by the Essex Steam Train was never a particularly busy corridor under New Haven control and fell into primarily a secondary role of handling freight between Hartford and Old Saybrook. However, the NYNH&H did facilitate property upgrades that allowed for speeds of over 50 mph. As early as the World War I era service was reduced and by the 1950s consisted of only local weekday service. By then the future of the New Haven looked bleak with growing deficits and declining traffic. It entered bankruptcy in 1961, from which it would not recover before being included into the ill-fated Penn Central Transportation Company on January 1, 1969.
|An odd collection of tired Penn Central power rests at the small engine terminal in Mechanicville, New York on August 14, 1970. Pictured is F7A #1773 (ex-NYC), GP9B #3806 (ex-PRR), and FA-2 #1302 (ex-NYC).|
Saddled with its own problems PC did not need or want the New Haven. It sought to sell Old Saybrook line, which was acquired by the state of Connecticut on August 15, 1969. Ultimately, the state authorized the Valley Railroad Company, largely a volunteer-effort, to lease and operate the moribund property beginning June 1, 1970 and officially began service in 1971. While the state has granted the railroad to use 22.67 miles of the route from Old Saybrook to Middletown currently only about 13 miles host trains while work remains underway to restore the rest of the property.
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Essex Steam Train