New Hartford Local

K-1-d No. 423 with HDX-5 westbound at Newington Junction.

All of the photos on this page were taken by Kent Cochrane c1947-8 unless otherwise noted.

Local freights, sometimes called way freights, are identified as 'Extras' in New Haven documentation. In the Arranged Freight or Package Car Schedule books they are identified by their division and a number. In train orders, they are identified as Extra <road number>. For example, YN-3 with 0502 on the head would be identified as Extra 0502.

Through much of the era I'm modeling the primary Extra is the New Hartford Local, or HDX-5 (for Hartford Division eXtra No. 5). The Hartford Division was eliminated in 1952. In addition, the railroad dropped the "D" from the identification of local trains (and the "H" from New Haven Division, which previously used NHX-x).

A second Extra was NY-4/YN-3, or one of the Holyoke freights. Since this is listed as a Symbol Freight in the freight time tables, I have covered its history on the Holyoke Freight page.

The listings in the Arranged Freight Service (Symbol Books) occasionally list specific times that a given train is expected to be in each town, but most of the time it only lists the initial departure time. During this era, it wasn't uncommon for a day's work to be 12 hours, and the crew didn't outlaw until 16 hours.

The crew received a guaranteed 8-hours of pay based on the length of the run. If they knew they couldn't finish the day under the guaranteed 8 hours of pay, they would take their time and stretch out the run. From what I've been told, it was exceedingly rare for a crew to record a 16-hour day, ensuring that their time showed less than that (even by 10 minutes) so they wouldn't have to start late the following day, unless they had an issue with management (including the Dispatcher, Crew Callers, etc.). In other words, if they weren't happy with something, they could make life difficult for others if they chose. But if it looked like an easy day, they would work as quickly as they could to get home as early as possible.

Power and Consist

Through the steam era, K-1 class locomotives were the standard power for local freights (as is evident in these photos). As the New Haven dieselized, these were replaced by DEY-3 (Alco S-1), or DEY-5 (Alco S-2) locomotives. In turn, these would be replaced by the Alco road switchers, DERS-1b (RS-1), DERS-2b (RS-2), and/or DERS-1c (RS-3). As the '50s continued, other power would be assigned to local freights.

Photographic evidence and some documentation indicates consists from about 12-30 cars as typical, with 15-20 probably the norm during the era I model, although it's also clear by the number of changes to the trains and their schedules that freight traffic is in decline.


The New Haven supplemented local freights with extensive trucking capabilities with their New England Transportation Co (NETCo) subsidiary.  New Britain had substantial freight house (L.C.L) traffic through this era, but most of the other stations on these runs were served only by truck, which was consolidated at Hartford. Farmington, Unionville, Collinsville, New Hartford, Avon, Simsbury, and Granby were towns served by rail by local freights through New Britain, but the freight houses in all of these towns were only served by truck. Plainville was switched to truck only in 1950. Bulk tracks (also known as team tracks) were still served by rail.

The Trains

The New Hartford local originated in Hartford, Plainville, or Cedar Hill depending on the year. Other than the period it originates in Plainville, it always worked New Britain along the way. I usually refer to it as HDX-5, since that's the New Hartford local for most of the years I model.

The earliest schedule I have with the New Hartford local is from 1940, although train numbers weren't listed (it was, however, the 5th Hartford division local listed).

HDX-5 is listed with that number by the September 1946 Arranged Freight and is in every following schedule through September 1948. It's clear that in the post-war era and beyond that the NH was constantly trying to balance the workload and several trains handled the job after 1948.

Freight schedules were typically issued twice a year, in spring and fall (to coincide with Daylight Savings). Engine and Caboose assignments are from the NH documents I have, plus photos. I don't have any photos of the New Hartford local from 1949-1954 (i.e. post-steam). Not all of these were scanned by me, so the quality varies.

I don't have have an autumn 1948 freight schedule, but K-1-d No. 479 is still assigned to HDX-5 in the September 1948 engine assignments. However, I also know that the local was annulled (and rolled into NY-4 - see below) prior to Spring 1949. I have a photo of 479 on a work train on September 18, 1948, which leads me to believe that HDX-5 was either running with a DEY-3 (Alco S-1) or annulled by November. 


c1940 - Fall 1948

K-1-d (2-6-0 mogul) 479

NE caboose C-116


Spring 1949

DERS-2b (Alco RS-2) 0502 or 0503

NE-6 caboose C-708 or C-709

HDX-5 has been eliminated, and the work combined with the Canal Line (north) local, but only three days a week, which is the schedule it will retain until it ends.

The "other side" of the run is YN-3, that leaves Holyoke at 9.15 am. It doesn't serve the New Hartford Line. It picks up cars in New Britain from 2.00 to 2.30 pm.

HDX-4 and HDX-5

Fall 1949

DEY-3 (Alco S-1) 0967 (HDX-4)

DEY-3 (Alco S-1) 0980 (HDX-5)

NE-5 caboose C-519 (HDX-4)

NE-5 caboose C-546 (HDX-5)

The New Hartford Local is reinstated as HDX-4, still three days a week. HDX-5 is also reinstated, as the Manchester local that also serves New Britain and Plainville on the days that HDX-4 is not running. Traffic to New Britain and Plainville appears to be enough to warrant daily service, but the New Hartford Line is not.


Spring, 1950 - Fall 1951

DEY-3 (Alco S-1) 0994

NE-5 caboose C-546

The Griffins Line connects to the Highland Line in Hartford right at the station. It's still in service for the Central New England Railroad (CNZR).


Spring 1952

DERS-2c (Alco RS-3) 526 or 531

Unknown caboose

YA-1, the return train, did not service the New Hartford Line.


Fall 1952 - Spring 1953

DERS-2b (Alco RS-2) 0503

NE-6 caboose C-706

The New Hartford local is reinstated as NX-25, since the Hartford Division had been eliminated. 

My Spring 1953 copy of Arranged Freight Train Symbol Book looks like a copy used to notate changes for compiling the next issue. 


Fall 1953 - Fall 1955

DEY-3 (Alco S-1) 0967

Unknown caboose assignment

NX-25 and NY-4/YN-3 are replaced by NX-28 originating in Plainville.

In April, 1954 NY-4/YN-3 was reinstated.

Photos from the summer of '54 by Tom McNamara have a pair of DERS-2c (Also RS-3) locomotives on the run, including 530, 547, and 556, 

In September, 1954 NX-28 is moved to originate at Hartford. Tom McNamara also captured DERS-3 (Fairbanks-Morse H16-44) 590 on the job at this time.

Art Mitchell, who also worked the line a few times, photographed DERS-2c 527 in winter of '54. I don't know if this was the winter/spring or fall/winter period, though. 

After the flood in August of 1955, Tom also captured DERS-2a 0407 and 0415 southbound in Collinsville in February, 1956. He later caught DERS-2c units 530 and 556 in August.

NX-25 and NX-28

Fall 1956 - Spring 1957


DERS-2c (Alco RS-3) 551, 552 (1956)

DERS-2c (Alco RS-3) 521 and 522 (1957)

Unknown caboose assignments


DERS-2c (Alco RS-3) 555 (1956)

DEY-3 (Alco S-1) 0967 (1957)

Unknown caboose assignments

No rail service on the branch is noted in the April, 1956 schedules, but Tom McNamara captured the train several times in the summer of 1956 with a pair of DERS-2c (Also RS-3) locomotives, including 530 and 538.

NY-4/YN-3 is running and probably serviced the line when NX-25 or 28 was not assigned.

By the September 1956 schedule NX-28 out of Cedar Hill is serving the New Hartford Line along with traffic to New Britain and Plainville, while NX-25, also from Cedar Hill, is now serving Meriden, New Britain, and Plainville.


Fall 1957 - Fall 1960

Unknown engine and caboose assignments

Starting in fall 1957, NX-28 has been reassigned to work Wallingford to Berlin, and NX-25 handles all work from New Britain and the Canal Line north of Plainville, including up to Collinsville.


Spring 1961 ~ Spring 1965

Unknown engine and caboose assignments

NX-18, the Canal Local, took over working the New Hartford line. The Spring 1965 schedules are the latest I have, but I think it's likely that NX-18 served as the New Hartford Local until the end of its existence.

The Route

When originating at Hartford, the New Hartford Local ran the Highland Line to Plainville, then took the northern leg of the Canal Line to reach the New Hartford Line in Farmington.

The only variation to this was the brief existence of the AY-1/YA-2 train which came down the Springfield Line to come up to New Britain via the Berlin Line.

In years that the train originates at New Haven, it comes up the Berlin Line to meet the Highland Line at New Britain Station.


When it originated in Hartford, it primarily handled cars from B&A and B&M via Springfield, plus those via Maybrook when the Maybrook-Hartford (OA/AO) freights were running. 

Cars arriving from PRR, CNJ, LV and others via Bay Ridge and Oak Point/Harlem River would come on the Holyoke (NY/YN) freights via Cedar Hill, with cars for the New Hartford line dropped at Plainville. Once the OA/AO freights were eliminated, Maybrook cars routed through Cedar Hill, and once the New Hartford Local originated in Cedar Hill, all cars would be routed through there, eliminating the need to receive cars in Plainville from another train.

The Highland Line

Originally part of the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill Railroad, the Highland Line is the portion west of Hartford and east of Waterbury. Based on the documentation I've been able to dig up, it formed the Highland Division before being folded into the Waterbury Division sometime between 1905 and 1925.

The number of Divisions changed over the years, presumably due to traffic fluctuations along with technological advances. For example, in 1929 there were nine Divisions (New York, New Haven, Hartford, Waterbury, Danbury, Providence, Old Colony, and Midland), but by 1935 there were three (Boston, Providence, and New Haven). By 1940 the Hartford Division had been added back and Highland Line trains fell in that jurisdiction until it was eliminated again in 1952.

The portion of interest here is from Hartford Yard through Parkville, Elmwood, Newington, New Britain to Plainville.

To the best of my knowledge, no work was ever done by this train in Parkville or Elmwood, nor do I have any photos along this stretch of track. But Newington was a popular place to take photos, particularly from an overpass just north of Newington Junction, so we'll start at:


K-1-d No. 479 with HDX-5 westbound at Wethersfield Rd in Newington.

The Highland Line parallels the Springfield Line south out of Hartford until it reaches Newington Junction. As you can see in the picture at the top of the page, the Highland curves to the west toward New Britain and ultimately Waterbury.

There was a freight house at Newington and it appears several industries (possibly including a Sears & Roebuck warehouse).

The 1940 and 1941 Freight Train and Package Car Schedules simply state that the local works to New Hartford and Return. The next schedules I have are from 1946, and from that point forward it never includes Newington in the list of towns served, nor is it mentioned in the schedule for any other local freight. Like many small towns, the freight house was served by truck at this time. If there was a car to delivery to an industry, it would undoubtedly have been handled by this train, but it is unclear if any industries remained to be served.

New Britain

479 westbound with HDX-5 with a 15 car* train taken from Black Rock Bridge in New Britain.

*This is noted by Tom McNamara on the back of the photo, which comes from his collection. I count 11 cars. The date is also stamped on the back of the card, but it doesn't look like mid-October to me. All of the distant visible buildings on the north side of the track (to the left of the train) are part of Stanley Works.

As long as New Britain had locally assigned switchers, the New Hartford Local primarily picked up and dropped off cuts of cars at New Britain Yard and the switchers handled most of the work. The exceptions would be several industries outside of yard limits, City Lumber and TG Smith & Sons on the east side of town, and Tuttle & Bailey, Elias Glass Co, and Ayett's Auto Arcade on the west side of town.

The latest engine assignments I have are for April, 1957 when two DEY-4 (44-tonners) were still assigned to New Britain, 0802 and 0809. These two were sold in 1958, and I suspect that they were not replaced at that time. From that point forward, the local freight (NX-25) worked the industries in New Britain.


479 with HDX-5 westbound at Ledge Road after passing Cook's Quarry, Plainville. 

Plainville is located at the junction of the Canal Line with the Highland Line. During the era I modeled, the double-track portion of the Highland Line ended just past Plainville station, and was single-track the rest of the way to Waterbury.

The largest industry served by the New Hartford Local in Plainville was the New Haven Trap Rock Company, also known as Cooks Quarry. It was located just over the town line coming from New Britain, just a little further westbound than the photo taken above.

I believe that the hoppers of crushed stone from this quarry is most likely what would have been weighed at the scale track at Whiting St. Yard in New Britain. The ridge of basalt is still being mined by Tilcon today, although on the other side of Rt. 72 and I-84, neither of which existed in this era. It is also the mine I go to sift ballast for the layout, since it's that quarry/ridge that was the source of the trap rock used by the New Haven on the Highland.

In addition to the New Hartford Local and NY-4/YN-3 (Canal Line north local), two other extras converged at Plainville: the Waterbury-Plainville local, and Cedar Hill-Plainville (Canal Line south) local. These trains would interchange cars as needed, including over-dimension cars to/from Hartford and beyond.

K-1-d class No. 479 for HDX-5 in Plainville Yard.

The Freight House was served by a single inbound L.C.L car from the Cedar Hill Transfer (T, Th, Sa) until being switched to truck in 1950. There was no scheduled outbound L.C.L car, so that traffic would have been trucked to Hartford.

The Canal Line (south) local switched the industries in Plainville so, like New Britain, the New Hartford Local only dropped or picked up cuts of cars here. 

There was the expected bulk tracks, plus the following industries in town:


The Canal Line (North)

The Canal Line runs from New Haven, CT to Northampton MA, paralleling the route of an old canal. Originally built as the New Haven & Northampton along the seventy-eight mile long Farmington Canal. The twenty-seven mile section from New Haven to Plainville opened in 1948, and reached Salmon Brook in Granby in April, 1850.

From the beginning it was leased to the New York & New Haven Railroad, and became part of the New York, New Haven & Hartford when the New York & New Haven and the Hartford & New Haven Railroad merged on August 6, 1872.

Towns served along the line as reported in the employee time tables are Highwood, Mt. Carmel, Cheshire, Milldale, Plantsville, Southington, Plainville, Farmington, Avon, Simsbury, Granby, Congamond, Southwick, Westfield, Ashley Pond and Holyoke.

It crosses the Highland Line at Plainville, and this is where the New Hartford Local takes the Canal Line north out of Plainville to continue its run.


This town was the location of the junction with the New Hartford line. 

Although noted in the time tables, the only industry I am aware of was north of the junction of the New Hartford branch. This was Farmington Farms, a poultry breeder who I think received feed. The building is set well below grade and the substantial concrete trestle still exists.

It is usually noted as being served in the freight schedules, so there may have been other industries at the time.


The New Hartford Branch

The New Hartford Line was featured in Shoreliner 33.4, including a number of color slides taken by Art Mitchell (also published in Trackside with Arthur E. Mitchell) and Tom McNamara in the '50s. I've referred to several of the pictures on this page, and I recommend the issue. 

More information on Shoreliner magazine at the NHRHTA site.


The 14 mile long New Hartford Line heads northwest from Farmington and parallels the Farmington River for much of its run. It crossed the river in three places, twice in Collinsville, and once at New Hartford. The initial eight mile branch line to Collinsville built by the New Haven & Northampton opened in March, 1850. This was extended an additional six miles to New Hartford in 1876 to serve the Greenwoods Company.

By the era I model it is a very rural freight-only line, passenger service having ended in 1927. 

New Haven records show that the railroad attempted to abandon the line since 1949, and again in 1954, indicating that revenues from operating the ~6.2 miles from Collinsville to New Hartford were insufficient to cover operating expenses. The 1954 was withdrawn since there was "likely to be considerable opposition to the abandonment."

The point became moot after the Hurricane Diane-caused flood of 1955 resulted in considerable damage to the line along the Farmington River through Burlington, at Collinsville, and Satan's Kingdom gorge between Collinsville and New Hartford. The track was repaired to Collinsville, but due to the amount of damage north, and the light amount of work, rail service to New Hartford ceased, with that portion of the line officially abandoned in August 1956.

Collins & Company ceased production in 1966. This was the largest industry served on the New Hartford line at this time, resulting in the New Haven abandoning the line from Unionville to Collinsville in 1967. The Shoreliner article indicates the line survived the New Haven, but a list of Public Grade Crossings indicates the remainder was abandoned in February of 1968.


The freight house was served by truck by the '40s, but there was a bulk track, and a lumber yard.

479 with HDX-5 westbound at Burlington, CT (between Unionville and Collinsville). 

Note the ATSF GA-6 (170000-170299) gondola rebuilt with Murphy panel sides salvaged from Bx-8, -9, and -10 box car ends. 


This is a company village that is part of the town of Canton. I live about 2 miles from the old Collins & Co axe factory in which one of the buildings is a museum that also houses a model railroad club. This is also where the New England/Northeast Prototype Modelers' Meet was located (a half-mile from my house) until it outgrew the facilities.

Located inside a bend in the Farmington river, the mainline crosses a bridge to enter the village, and less than a mile later crosses another one to continue north to New Hartford.

Until the late '20s, the CNE also served this small town and north of Collinsville there were tracks on either side of the Farmington River to New Hartford. The CNE tracks continued past New Hartford through the northwest hills, and eventually to the Poughkeepsie Bridge which was built by the CNE. In Canton/Collinsville there were 4 railroad stations within a 2 mile distance.

Industries included:

New Hartford

In my era, the only industry that I'm aware that remained was Underwood Corp (typewriters and adding machines) that occupied what was a former Landers, Frary & Clark plant (until c1941) that manufactured vacuums. The factory was built by Greenwoods, a company that produced cotton duck for sails until c1901, and the complex still bears that name today.