Holyoke Freights

DEY-5 (Alco S-2) no. 0606 westbound with NY-4 at bridge 42.76 in New Britain. Kent Cochrane, December 25, 1947.

The Canal Line

The 78-mile Farmington Canal was built from New Haven to connect to the Hampshire & Hampden Canal at the Massachusetts state line, which reached the Connecticut River in Northampton. The canal was a financial failure, and the Canal Railroad was built to replace it, including the Collinsville (New Hartford) branch. It was acquired by the New Haven by 1887.

The Canal Line south of Plainville was served by HDX-14 out of New Haven. It did most of the work in Plainville, and also brought over-dimension cars to Plainville to be routed to Hartford over the Highland. 

The Canal Line north of Plainville runs through rural Connecticut with only the only significant industry being Ensign Bickford, the inventor and manufacturer of Primacord. But after crossing into western Massachusetts there are the busy industrial centers of Westfield and Holyoke.

Two daily trains served the line through most of this era, running east on the Springfield Line from Cedar Hill to Berlin, then up the Berlin Line through New Britain to the Highland Line, then running west to Plainville and the junction with the Canal Line. The southern portion of the Canal Line was served by another local out of Cedar Hill.

NY-2/YN-1 was a road freight running Cedar Hill to Holyoke in the early morning, dropping a cut of cars in New Britain on the way. It returned in the evening, also stopping in New Britain to pick up cars bound for Cedar Hill and beyond.

NY-4/YN-3 ran the same route, dropping off cars in New Britain in the morning, and working as the local freight north of Plainville. It also switched Berlin and Cremo Brewery in New Britain on the Springfield Line. This train was dropped in 1952.

In spring of 1952 the route NY-4/YN-3 was changed to originate in Hartford (AY-2/YA-1), and then was replaced by local NX-28 from Westfield, operating only to Plainville and no longer coming through New Britain.


Until 1945 the regular power was a J-1 class 2-8-2 Mikado until they were replaced by DEY-3 class Alco S-2 locomotives 0605 and 0606. These were replaced in 1948 with DERS-2b class Alco RS-2 locomotives 0502 and 0503. All four of these diesel locomotives were the first two of their class to receive Hartford Division cab signals specifically for assignment to these trains.

In spring of 1952 they would be upgraded again to DERS-2c class Alco RS-3 locomotives 532 and 533, while at the same time NY-4/YN-3 were dropped in favor of local NX-28 out of Westfield. In 1954 DERS-2c engines 517, 518, and 520 were assigned to NY-2/YN-1 and 521, and 522 were assigned to NY-4/YN-3.

New Britain Operations

NY-2/YN-1 run in the evening/overnight. As a result, NY-4/YN-3 are the only Holyoke freights that run during an operating session. When an ops session starts there is a large cut of cars that was dropped by NY-2, and the crews assemble a cut to be picked up by YN-1 later in the evening. NY-4/YN-3 was usually assigned to work Berlin and Cremo Brewery in New Britain, which was located on the Springfield Line.

Cars are primarily to/from B&O, Reading, CNJ, LV, and PRR via the car floats to Bay Ridge, Harlem River and Oak Point, plus traffic from CN and CV via New London. In 1949 and 1950, the Maybrook-Hartford freights were annulled, and from that point forward all Maybrook traffic was routed via Cedar Hill and NY-2/YN-1. Maybrook-Hartford freights were reinstated from 1951-1953 and once again, nearly all Maybrook routed traffic would reach New Britain on those trains.

Train Orders

I did a post on the blog covering a series of train orders for NY/YN Freights over the years.

The Route

Towns listed in parenthesis aren't served by these trains. You'll note that the Cedar Hill to Holyoke (NY) trains are eastbound (and thus carry an even number). This is because the Springfield line from Cedar Hill is eastbound.

Springfield Line

Berlin Line

Highland Line

Canal Line

Holyoke Branch

 Double headed J-1 class 2-8-2 locomotives with YN-4 approaching New Britain junction.

Train is on the Berlin Line passing Union Manfacturing and the engine servicing facilities.

YN-3 eastbound at Ledge Rd, Plainville.

J-1 class 2-8-2 with a second locomotive on YN-4 entering Plainville.

Only J-1 nos. 3005, 3008, and 3010-3014 had Hartford division cab signals.

J-1 class 2-8-2 Mikado no. 3008 with NY-4 in Plainville.

DEY-5 no. 0606 with YN-3 at Plainville. Kent Cochrane, July 7, 1947. Note NE-5 caboose.

DEY-5 no. 0604 with YN-3, I-1 class no. 1001 with Train 157, and HDX-4 in the background.

At Plainville. Note YN-3 in coming down the east leg of the wye from Westfield.

DEY-5 0606 with YN-3 at Cook's Quarry, Plainville.

DERS-2b (Alco RS-2) switching at Simsbury on NY-4.

The Trains

The Arranged Freight schedules below are from the September 1946 book. I've listed blocks on the trains as they enter New Britain.

NY-2 - Cedar Hill to Holyoke

Connections from:

Blocks entering New Britain:

NY-4 - Cedar Hill to Holyoke

Connections from:

Blocks entering New Britain:

Does station work Avon to Southwick, inclusive.

YN-1 - Holyoke to Cedar Hill

Connections to:

Blocks entering New Britain:

YN-3 - Holyoke to Cedar Hill

Connections to:

Blocks entering New Britain:

DEY-5 no. 0604 with YN-3 in New Britain at New Britain Yard. Kent Cochrane. 

No. 0604 was the only other DEY-5 equipped with Hartford division (in this case, dual) cab signals, and thus able to be assigned to this train.

Spring 1952 - the end of NY-4/YN-3

In the spring 1952 Arranged Freight schedules, the NY-4/YN-3 originated from Hartford instead of Cedar Hill, now AY-2/YA-1. In addition, AY-2 served as both the (north) Canal Local, as NY-4 had, and the New Hartford Local. By autumn, these trains would be replaced by NX-18 operating from Westfield to Plainville and return and no Holyoke freight was scheduled during the day through New Britain.

DERS-2c (Alco RS-3) locomotives no. 526 was assigned to YA-1; no. 530 to YN-1; and no. 531 to AY-2. All three were also assigned to NY-2.