The Naugatuck Railroad

The original Naugatuck Railroad was chartered in 1845, to be built between Bridgeport and Winsted, adjacent to the Naugatuck River. Construction began in April, 1848, and was completed by May, 1849. The first regular train service began June 11, 1849. The New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad began leasing the Naugatuck in 1887; and formally merged it in 1906.

Thomaston Dam was constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers between 1958 and 1960 as a flood control dam. Massive flooding in August 1955 devastated Connecticut, especially the Naugatuck River Valley, where over 100 lost their lives and hundreds of thousand dollars of heavy damage to the railroad occurred. The new dam required the relocation of the New Haven Railroad between Thomaston and East Litchfield, with construction of almost 10 miles of new rail line above the river valley. The new route was opened in 1960 as the dam neared completion.

Passenger service between Waterbury and Winsted was discontinued in 1958. Facing hard economic times as a result of the decline of its New england industrial base in the 1960s, the New Haven Railroad became a part of the Penn Central merger on January 1, 1969. The branch line suffered during the Penn Central years, losing freight customers and falling into disrepair.

In 1976, the State of Connecticut purchased the line between Waterbury and Torrington, and Conrail was named the designated operator. In 1982, Boston & Maine began its lease of the Naugatuck line. Traffic continued to decline, and Boston & Maine (now part of Guilford Rail System) discontinued regular freight service on August 2, 1995. The future of the line was in question.

After two decades of preserving and restoring New England’s railroad heritage, RMNE was looking for a new home. The RMNE restored the original Naugatuck Railroad name from 1845 when it obtained a state charter for its new wholly owned operating subsidiary on June 7, 1995. The first passenger trains ran in October of 1996. We currently operate between Thomaston and the Waterville section of Waterbury. We are a full-service, common-carrier railroad, connected to the national network and able to handle your important freight shipments. Don’t have your own siding? There are many locations along the Naugatuck Railroad that can facilitate a train-to-truck transload. Contact us for more information.

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