New Britain is a small city (1950 population approx 74,000) located between Plainville (to the west) and Newington (to the east) on the Highland Line which runs between Hartford and Waterbury, CT. It is a heavily industrialized town, especially in regards to the hardware industry, giving the city its nicknames, "The Hardware City" or "The Hardware Capital of the World."

Just east of the station is a junction between the double-track Highland line and the single-track Berlin branch line which turns west to Berlin. Both the Highland line and the Berlin branch connect to the Springfield mainline in Newington and Berlin respectively.

The Highland Line

The Highland line (formerly the Highland Subdivision of the Hartford Division) was once fully double-tracked between Hartford and Waterbury. The section west of the junction with the Canal Line in Plainville to Waterbury was reduced to single-track in 1940. There is a significant grade going through Terryville between New Britain and Waterbury. In addition, there is a steady 1% grade on the two-mile-long Berlin Branch from Berlin to New Britain.

In summer of 1954 the Highland Line was reduced to single track from Newington Junction through New Britain to Plainville. Starting in 1955, the city of New Britain started some significant demolition ("urban renewal") projects starting with filling the Lockshop Pond and leveling significant portions of the Russell & Erwin and Corbin Screw factories to build off-street parking lots.

New Britain Station was leveled in 1956, although trains continued to stop there. By the end of the '60s, the Landers, Frary & Clark Commercial Street Factory, the Stanley Rule & Level and even the Railroad Arcade (in two different sections) would all be gone. This was long before the 1970's routing of Rt 72, or the 1980's building of Rt 9 through New Britain.

Distances to major cities are:

  • Boston, MA: 126.45 miles
  • Bridgeport: 53.87 miles
  • Hartford: 9.06 miles
  • Holyoke, MA: 48.06 miles
  • Maybrook, NY: 120.53 miles
  • New Haven: 38.57 miles
  • Plainville: 4.38 miles
  • Waterbury: 21.97 miles

Passenger service is primarily between Hartford and Waterbury, but includes service to Bridgeport (via Waterbury) and Boston (via Hartford). There is also passenger service to the Springfield mainline by bus to Berlin. The passenger service includes a significant amount of mail and REA express service.

Freight service includes one local freight from Hartford. Through freight runs between Hartford and Maybrook (via Waterbury and Derby Junction) and New Haven (via Berlin) and Holyoke (via Plainville).

Layout at a Glance

The layout runs from Stanley Works at Burritt Street to about East Main Street. Here's a crop of a NHRR New Britain Alignment Map, showing the modeled portion:

The entire layout is within yard limits.

The Berlin branch continues off the bottom of the map. The layout has a small yard representing the traffic to the Whiting Street Yard which includes LCL traffic to the New Haven Railroad Freight House and team tracks.

Here's a crop of a 1934 aerial photo:

I've labeled several key locations. It's probably easier to go to the original at the Connecticut State Library so you can zoom in on these locations.

The railroad tracks are easy to follow on the picture. The Highland Line runs from the left side of the picture, to the upper right corner. The Berlin Branch runs off the lower right corner. Note that today the eastern portion of the Highland Line has been abandoned and the track has been removed. There is a long railroad bridge that is still present over Route 9 (which doesn't exist in this picture but would be to the right of square #6). The remainder of the track is still in use. New Britain Yard (and Commercial Street itself) are gone. Most of the sidings are gone, and the Whiting Street Yard only has a few tracks left. The Highland Line itself was reduced to single-track in the summer of 1954.

  1. Stanley Works
  2. American Hardware Company
  3. New Britain Station and Arcade
  4. New Britain Yard
  5. Stanley Rule and Level
  6. New Haven Railroad Mechanical Department
  7. Team Tracks
  8. New Haven Railroad Freight House
  9. Whiting Street Yard

The dark triangle just to the left of square #2 is Lockshop Pond.

I also have the Sanborn Fire Maps, and several New Haven Railroad Valuation maps of the area that I've used in preparing the design of the layout.