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The Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum Visit and Trip 6/27/2015

by Chris Guenzler

Robin and I left the Days Inn in Shrewsbury and headed south to Grafton, our first brief stop of the day.

Grafton and Upton Railroad Details

The Grafton and Upton Railroad is no stranger to history and has only had three private owners since its establishment in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The evolution of the railroad began in 1874 as narrow-gauge steam railroad, transitioning to standard gauge, electrification in 1919 and eventually dieselization in 1946, it's easy to see there's been no shortage of continuous improvement throughout our history. To the Grafton and Upton, continuous improvement is our everyday goal and it means providing first class service that not only benefits the customer but provides strong positive economic benefits to the community. This business model became evident in the G&U’s more recent history when Jon Delli Priscoli invested in the revitalization of the of Grafton and Upton Railroad.

Since 2009, Jon Delli Priscoli has led a talented staff on individuals on a quest to transform the Grafton and Upton into a linear industrial park, serving the Interstate 90 and 495 corridors in central-eastern Massachusetts. In this initiative, Jon and his team identified a critical demand for a railroad that can satisfy the needs of all clients, even those located off the mainline. Specifically, he wanted to build a railroad with consistent operating performance that continuously meets the needs of their clientele and become a partner in their growth. Furthermore, Jon recognized the need for private investment within the railroad industry and this was evident in the investment in a state of the art propane distribution facility; among other projects like the G&U’s Envirobulk facility in Upton, Massachusetts.

Grafton & Upton Railroad CF7 1500, ex. Bay Colony Railroad 2443, exx. Massachusetts Central 2443, exxx. Santa Fe 2443, nee Santa Fe F7A 333L built by Electro-Motive Division in 1952).

Grafton & Upton Railroad GP7u 1801, ex. Grafton and Upton 2210, exx. Motive Power Resources 2210, exxx. National Railway Equipment 2210, exxxx. North East Kansas and Missouri 2210, exxxx. Missouri and Northern Arkanss 2210, nee Santa Fe GP7 2698 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1952.

Grafton & Upton Railroad GP7 1800, ex. Grafton and Upton 2167, exx. Motive Power Resources 2167, exxx. North East Kansas and Missouri 2167, exxxx. National Railway Equipment 2167, exxxxx. Missouri and Northern Arkansas 2167, nee Santa Fe GP7 2784 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1952.

Grafton & Upton Railroad GP9R 1751, ex. Grafton and Upton 4634, exx. Allied Services 4634, exxx. Grand Trunk Western 4634, nee Grand Trunk Western GP9 4932 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1958.

Grafton & Upton Railroad F7A 1501, ex. Adirondack Railway Preservation Society 1500, exx. Toledo, Peoria & Western 1500, nee Bessemer and Lake Erie F9A 720 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1952.

Grafton & Upton Railroad GP9R 1750, ex. Grafton & Upton Railroad 1702, exx. Bay Colony 170, exxx. Providence and Worcester Railroad 7205, exxxx. Providence and Worcester Railroad 1702, exxxxx. Conrail 7205, nee Pennsylvania Railroad GP9 7205 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1957.

Grafton & Upton Railroad view.

A Grafton & Upton Railroad really big load. From here we went to town of Webster for our second stop of the day.

Webster has a railroad display owned by the Providence and Worcester Railroad Club.

Providence and Worcester 25 ton switcher 151 built by General Electric in 1945 painted as New Haven 050.

A Milwaukee Road flat car.

Retired Seaview Railroad boxcar 6906.

Conrail caboose 21167, nee Erie-Lackawanna C359, painted as Providence & Worcester caboose 32477, built by International Car in 1969.

We stopped at Dunkin' Donuts for my usual before we took Interstate 395 south into Connecticut, another new state for Robin. We were a few minutes ahead of schedule so we took Highway 101 east for about five miles to get Robin another new state.

Robin Bowers is in Rhode Island. We returned west to Interstate 395 to US 6 into Willimantic, our next stop.

About the Museum

The Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum is located off Bridge Street in downtown Willimantic, Connecticut, on the original site of the Columbia Junction Freight Yard. Our collection includes locomotives and rolling stock as well as vintage railroad buildings and a six-stall roundhouse reconstructed on the original foundation.

Visitors can receive a guided tour of the museum and kids of all ages can operate a replica 1850's-style pump car along a section of rail that once was part of the New Haven Railroad's "Air Line".

Future plans include extending track from the museum site to the Bridge Street entrance, reconstructing structures such as water towers on their original foundations and erecting a Railroad Station/Visitor Center.

Our Visit

We drove down this road into the museum seeing deer crossing ahead of us.

The roundhouse and the 60 foot manually-operated turntable.

This roundhouse was originally built in 1892 and then rebuilt on the exact same spot in 2000. Now let us look inside.

Maine Central railbus 10 built by the Fairmont Railway Motors Company during the 1930's as a 3100 Series A model. It was used by the Maine Central Railroad's mechanical department as an inspection car until the early 1950's until it was purchased by Mr. Allan Thomas of Campton, New Hampshire. Over the years, 10 was stored in such various locations as Clark's Trading Post in New Hampshire, an automobile dealership in Milford, Connecticut, and a millworking shop in Manchester, Connecticut. In 1995, it was donated to the Museum by Dick Arnold of Manchester with the stipulation that it be restored to running condition. This was accomplished by Museum members Dick Voorvaart, Paul Shamonis, and Duke York.

A car mover, manufactured by the Trackmobile Corporation which was used by the Pfizer Corporation to move railroad cars around its Groton, Connecticut plant. It was transported by truck and arrived at the museum on May 2, 2002.

Roundhouse scene.

Rutland Railroad wooden caboose 40 built by the railroad in the 1920's.

Central Vermont ouside-braced box car 43022 built by the Pressed Steel Car Company of Pittsburgh in 1929 as a 40 foot single sheathed boxcar with double six foot doors on each side. In the 1940's, the roof of the car was raised four inches. During the 1950's, the double doors were removed and replaced by single six foot doors and was re-numbered 43022. Markings inside the boxcar indicate that it was probably used to carry grain. In 1969, the car was renumbered 4392 and used for maintenance-of-way storage under the footbridge in Willimantic until the 1980's. It was purchased by the museum in August 1992 and moved to the museum site; restoration to its 1950's appearance was completed in September 1996.

New Haven 44 ton switcher 0800 built by General Electric in for the Long Island Railroad for use in the Morris Park Shops as a shop switcher. It was numbered 400 and was the only GE 44-tonner owned by them. It was sold to a scrap dealer in 1963 and later purchased by the Black River and Western Railroad in New Jersey in 1965. It was purchased by the Valley Railroad in 1969 and renumbered 0800 and was used for work trains, dinner trains and other purposes and was painted in the New Haven Railroad colors of orange and green. It was leased for a few months during 1973 by Electric Boat of Groton while their 44 tonner was being overhauled. Although not an original New Haven locomotive, it is similar to others used by the New Haven from 1941 to 1969. Funding to purchase the locomotive was donated by Liberty Bank and it was brought to the museum in October 1996.

Central Vermont wooden caboose 4052 built by American Car and Foundry in 1923 for the Central Vermont Railroad. It was sold to the Connecticut Electric Railway in 1959 and later purchased by and delivered to the Museum in May 1999.

Wooden caboose of unknown origin.

Standard Steel and Wire 0-4-0T 10 built by Baldwin in 1934 as a demonstrator to compete with diesel switchers. It was designed for one-man operation, as an automatic-oil-fired locomotive. Baldwin transferred it to their subsidiary Standard Steel Works. It was later sold to Wickwire-Spencer Steel Company at Palmer, Massachusetts and was bought in 1970 when that plant closed, by Robert Carlson of Newington, Connecticut, who moved it to the Valley Railroad at Essex. He later sold the engine to Joseph Pagano of Shelburne Falls.

In October 2008, the steam engine moved to the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum and is currently in Stall 6 of the Columbia Junction Roundhouse. An interesting piece of history, according to the records at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas is she was originally built for Wickwire-Spencer Steel Company, but got sent to Standard Steel & Wire, then 14 years later, in 1948, Wickwire finally gets her. This paragraph is from and was posted by Rich Cizik.

That finished the roundhouse pictures and now I would explore outside.

Grand Trunk Western box car 515747 built by the railroad in 1949.

Central Vermont Railroad open air car 4287 converted from flat car 4287 built in 1914, and purchased from the Central Vermont Railway in 1992.

New Haven wooden baggage car 3841 built by the Osgood-Bradley Company in Worcester in 1906 as horse and carriage car 3068. It was rebuilt by the Readville Shops of the New Haven in 1927 as a baggage car with a steel underframe and re-numbered 3841. It was used as work train car W-186 and assigned to Maybrook, New York in March 1949 and was replaced in October 1967. The car arrived at Essex in September 1972 and was moved to the museum in November 1993. Restoration plans include repainting it in New Haven Hunter Green colors.

A pillar crane.

New Haven wooden coach 4414 built by Osgood Bradley in 1907 as an open platform car. It was rebuilt in June 1929 with closed vestibules and steel underframe, becoming 4414. It was made into a work car in October 1949 and renumbered W-155, and was donated by a member and moved to the museum in November 1994. It has been partially restored.

New Haven caboose C-618 built by Pullman Standard in 1944, painted as Conrail 19882.

New Haven Terminal 45 ton switcher 0413 built by General Electric in 1943 for Arlington Mills in Lawrence, Massachusetts. It was delivered to the museum in September 2008.

Multiple Unit training module 7000 built by Morrison-Knudson as a training module for Connecticut Department of Transporation's M-6 cars. While it contained full operator controls, it was not a full-size car and did not contain any running gear. It was later converted into a security building at the Bronson Street entrance to the New Haven Yard.

Niantic River bridge tender shack built in 1907.

A unique railroad signal.

Museum scene.

Pfizer SW8 2 1991, ex. National Railway Equiment 3730, exx. Norfolk Southern 3730, exxx. Norfolk and Western 3730 1982, exxxx. Wabash 3130 1964, nee Wabash 130 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1953.

Central Vermont S-4 8081 built by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1955. It worked for the railroad for over thirty years and was then sold to K&L Feeds as their 1 in 1987.

The Chaplin station, first used as a train station in 1872 when the Boston, Hartford and Erie Railroad reached Clarks Corner in the Town of Hampton, just across the town line from Chaplin. It had been built earlier (circa 1850) possibly as a tin shop. This line was part of the Airline Route that went to Boston. It became part of the New York and New England Railroad in 1875 and later part of the New Haven Railroad in 1898. The original station sign reading "Chaplin, Boston 77M., Hudson River 150M." was acquired with the station. Elmer Claslin Jewett became Station Agent and Telegrapher in this depot in 1896, when it stood by the double railroad tracks to the left of the bridge at Clarks Corner. When the station was replaced in July 1901 by a larger building, it was purchased by the Station Master for $2.00 and moved by a team of horses to his backyard. Upon the death of his daughter in 1991, her family donated the station to the Museum. It was moved to the museum and has been restored with a replica of the original station sign. The original sign is displayed inside the station.

Museum scene.

The freight house from Groton built around the turn of the century and was originally located on the main line of the New Haven Railroad in Groton opposite the Groton Tower. It was donated by Amtrak and was brought to the museum in February 1998, moved to its permanent site in October 1999 and restoration is almost complete.

Museum scene.

This is the former New Haven Railroad Willimantic section house that was used to store maintenance tools and equipment used to keep track in good repair. It sat abandoned in the Willimantic Freight Yard for many years until moved to the museum in 1992. It was restored in 1993 and once again is being used as the base of operations for the museum's track maintenance crew.

Heavy load flat car.

New Haven FL9 2023 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1960 as 2057. It was rebuilt by the Chrome Locomotive Company in Silvis, Illinois in 1985, at which time it was renumbered as 2023, and served both Connecticut and New York until retired from service in September 2002.

The dual-mode FL9 operates normally in diesel-electric mode but converts to electrified operation while in motion by lowering a shoe which makes contact with an energized third rail. At that time the diesel engine is shut down and the electric motors take over, a transition that occurs so smoothly that passengers are not even aware that it has taken place. On the New Haven Railroad, the changeover to electric operation occurred when approaching New York City in the area of Woodlawn. When leaving the city, the third rail shoes were raised and the diesel engines took over.

The locomotive was donated to the museum by the Connecticut DOT Office of Rail and arrived at the museum on February 7, 2003 with help from the Providence & Worcester and New England Central railroads.

Trackside shed.

Museum scene.

Approximately 80 years ago, the Versailles Operator's Shanty was constructed by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in the village of Versailles, part of the town of Sprague. Its main use was for telegraph operators who relayed messages between other operators and who would pass train orders to the trains passing by. After the telephone replaced the telegraph for communications purposes, the shanty was used by Block Operators who were responsible for all activities within their block. The block to the west went to Willimantic and the block to the east went to Plainfield. After the railroad no longer needed the shanty, it was given to an employee who moved it to his yard. His family donated it to the museum on September 13, 2000. Currently it is being used as the museum's ticket booth and information center.

Cape Cod and Hyannis Railroad coach 2569, ex. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority coach-smoker 2569, exx. Penn Central 2569, nee New Haven Railroad 8673 built by Pullman-Standard in 1948. They were delivered with a Hunter Green roof and side window bands. During the 1950's, they were repainted with black roofs and orange window bands.

In constructing these coaches, the stainless steel fluting was welded to the Cor-Ten steel exterior sidewall. Unfortunately, water would become trapped behind the stainless steel, causing the Cor-Ten wall to rust. No effective way could be found to resolve this problem. The coaches were sent to the MBTA in Massachusetts, retired in 1987, leased to the Cape Cod Railroad in 1988 and returned to the MBTA in 1989. They were sold to the Railroad Museum of New England in 1989 and subsequently donated to the museum and delivered in December 1997.

Cape Cod and Hyannis Railroad coach 2591, ex. Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority 2591, exx. Penn Central 2591, nee New Haven 8695 built by Pullman Standard in 1948.

SPV 2000 293 built by Budd in 1981. SPV 2000 stands for "Self-Propelled Vehicle" that would serve until the year "2000". Built as a successor to the successful RDC (Rail Diesel Car), the SPVs were expensive (about $1,000,000 each) and so unreliable that they earned the nickname "Seldom Powered Vehicle". Only 30 were built, and many of these eventually had their engines removed and were converted to cab cars and coaches.

293 worked for the Metro-North Railroad, was rebuilt in the late 1980's and served until the mid 1990's. In October 2002 it was donated to the museum by the Connecticut Department of Transportation. On February 7, 2003, after sitting unused in New Haven since 1994, it was moved the museum as part of a consist with the FL9.

Museum views.

This Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum 25 ton switcher (built by General Electric in 1958 and purchased by Northeast Utilities for use in constructing their Millstone nuclear power plants) would be giving us a ride at this unique railroad museum.

The Trip

So now sit back, relax and we will take a ride down the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum tracks towards High Street. Be on the lookout for the museum's new crane Providence & Worcester Railroad TC-01.

That was the eastbound trip in the cab of the museum's switcher. Now we wuld head west back to the museum.

We have returned to the museum grounds and thanked our crew on this train. I thanked everyone here before finishing my picture-taking.

Maine Central motor car 10 was out in the sun.

Work on the rail trail was progressing.

The roundhouse and turntable.

Track equipment.

Philadelphia and Reading dining car 910 "Silversmith" built by Osgood Bradley in 1902. Purchased by the Belfast & Moosehead Lake Railroad in 1926, this car was moved to Maine for service between Belfast and Burnham Junction as BML 11. Acquired in 1960 by the Black River & Western Railroad of New Jersey, it was re-numbered 104 and put to work on excursions runs, first test runs on the CNJ branch at Chester and later weekend passenger trips over BR&W's current line between Ringoes and Flemington. Retired with the Black River's upgrade to a steel coach fleet, 104 was sold to the Yankee Silversmith Inn in 1970 and moved to Wallingford, Connecticut for use as a dining room. In became part of the CERM collection in 2008 and was moved to the Willimantic site in 2009.

With that picture, it was time to leave this great railroad museum for our next train in Essex. A special thank you to the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum for having us here today.