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University Railroad Collection

Identifier: 1997-0041

Scope and Content

This is an artificial collection of publications, timetables, forms, reports, track diagrams and charts, locomotive specifications, equipment blueprints, maps, drawings and artwork, and photographs almost exclusively associated with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and its predecessor and successor railroad lines, gathered from many donors and purchases. There are a small number of documents from other railroads in the United States and other countries.


  • Creation: undated, 1841-2006


The collection is open and available for research.

Restrictions on Use and Copyright Information

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from both the University of Connecticut Libraries and the owner(s) of the copyright.

Use of the glass negative in Box 53 and the unbound shipping log for the Philadelphia, Reading & New England Railroad in Box 75 must be under the supervision of the Archives & Special Collections reference desk staff.


For almost one hundred years the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, better known as the New Haven Railroad, was the primary means of passenger and freight transportation in southern New England. Chartered in 1872, this merger between the New York & New Haven and Hartford & New Haven railroads later included the long desired rail link between Boston and New York. Approximately one hundred small independent railroads were built in southern New England between 1826 and the 1880s. By 1904, the majority were absorbed into the vast New Haven system. At its peak in 1929, the New Haven Railroad owned and operated 2,131 miles of track throughout eastern New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.

The local railroad lines that eventually became part of the New Haven system developed in response to local business and transportation needs. Unlike the Western states, where railroads preceded and shaped settlement, in the Northeast they served primarily to link existing towns, businesses, and markets. The New Haven system thus developed as a result of numerous consolidations and mergers. The New Haven traced its founding to 1826, when one of its predecessor companies originated, but the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad was not chartered until 1872. The company followed the pattern of consolidation established by the Pennsylvania Railroad and other companies, particularly after 1889, when major lines in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and southern Massachusetts provided a strong network linking New York and Boston. By 1890, company revenue exceeded $100,000,000 per year, and the New Haven employed 4,000 people to serve twelve million passengers annually.

This success led a wealthy group of New York investors, headed by J. Pierpont Morgan, to seek and gain control of the New Haven's board. In 1903, Morgan installed Charles Mellen as president of the railroad. Together Morgan and Mellen set out to achieve a complete monopoly of transportation in New England. Substantial improvements to the system were made during the Mellen years, including electrification of rail lines between Woodlawn, New York, and New Haven, Connecticut, and construction of a power generating plant in Cos Cob, Connecticut. These accomplishments, however, were overshadowed by Morgan's ambitious schemes to dominate all modes of transportation in New England. Steamboat lines, trolley companies, and other railroad lines were purchased regardless of price and incorporated into the New Haven system.

An investigation of the New Haven's activities by Louis Brandeis in 1907 revealed the overextended railroad was on the verge of financial collapse. Morgan's death in 1913 and Mellen's subsequent resignation brought to a close a stormy period in the New Haven's history.

During the First World War, all of the railroads in the United States, including the New Haven Railroad, were operated by the federal government. After the war, under Edward Pearson, President through 1928, the railroad was able to recover partially, despite increasing competition from automobiles, by sharing in the national economic growth of the 1920s. The company tried to meet this transportation competition by forming the New England Transportation Company, which operated a fleet of trucks and buses. Recovery of the New Haven, however, was cut short by the Depression of the 1930s, and in 1935 the New Haven plunged into bankruptcy. The company remained in trusteeship until 1947, when it returned to private ownership.

A series of struggles for control of the company in the post World War II period severely weakened the management of the company and its ability to adapt to changes in the transportation industry. The completion of the Connecticut Turnpike and other superhighways and the start of air shuttle service between Boston and New York intensified competition. The company's historic liability as a railroad overburdened with many short, costly branch lines further accelerated its decline.

On 7 July 1961, the New Haven Railroad once again went into receivership. A seven year trusteeship period followed, culminating in the absorption of the New Haven in the Penn Central system on 1 January 1969. Three years later the Penn Central itself collapsed into bankruptcy. The former components of the New Haven Railroad were divided among several entities. Freight service was assumed by Conrail when it was formed in 1976, although the Providence & Worcester also provided freight service on portions of the former New Haven, as did a few other operators. Passenger commuter service was funded by the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority and the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Long-haul passenger service was provided by Amtrak beginning in 1971. After 1976 passenger commuter service was operated by Conrail. In 1982, the United States Congress passed legislation that forced Conrail to divest itself of its commuter rail lines. On 1 January 1983, Metro-North Commuter Railroad, under joint ownership of the states of New York and Connecticut, took over all commuter passenger service. Amtrak continued to handle all long-haul passenger service.

The history of the New Haven Railroad reveals a company formed by one of the classic merger and consolidation patterns of the late 19th century, which was later unable to respond effectively to major changes in the transportation industry. The company's rapid growth, collapse, temporary recovery, and final dissolution offer a dramatic story, with government regulation, internal management decisions, and market competition playing important roles in the company's history.


90 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



This is an artificial collection of publications, timetables, forms, reports, track diagrams and charts, equipment blueprints, maps, drawings and artwork, and photographs almost exclusively associated with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and its predecessor railroad lines, gathered from many donors and purchases.


Series I: Papers, undated, 1841-1993, consists of writings, instructions, timetables and memoranda involving the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad's various operations, predecessors, stations and work processes. The later material, including employee timetables and rosters, is from Penn Central, Amtrak and Conrail, particularly their Northeast region operations, and Metro-North Commuter Railroad. The materials are organized chronologically.

Series II: Track Diagrams and Charts, Maps, Equipment Blueprints, Surveyor's Field Books, Drawings, and Artwork, undated, 1841-1984, are arranged as separate subseries.

Subseries A, Track Diagrams, shows property of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and many predecessors lines including as the Berkshire Railroad and the Holyoke & Westfield Railroad.

Subseries B, Maps, is arranged by item and thereunder chronologically of maps of properties of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and several of its predecessors. Of particular interest are maps of the Belle Dock railroad terminal in New Haven, Connecticut.

Subseries C, Equipment Blueprints, are of equipment designed and used by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. They are arranged by an item number represented on each drawing.

Subseries D consists of 32 surveyor's field books, circa 1919-1927, consisting of surveys of property owned by the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, done by the Real Estate and Right of Way Department from the general offices in New Haven, Connecticut. The field books show drawings of property in Connecticut, showing meticulous drawings of property owned by the railroad.

Subseries E, Drawings and Artwork, includes drawings of New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad locomotives by William Dulmaine, Jr., and "Heidorn."

Series III: Photographs, 1930s-1995, includes images of locomotives and cars of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, the New Haven, Connecticut, railroad station, and of policemen employed by the railroad. Also of special interest are station surveys, done in 1954-1955, of stations along the New Haven District and the New York District, with photographs taken by Charles B. Gunn, who served as company photographer at that time. The collection also includes two boxes of photographic prints, most of which were taken by George E. Votava, of locomotives and cars of the New Haven Railroad and of street railways in Connecticut.

Series IV: Gift of Gary Carlquist, undated, 1897-1984, consists of forms, letters, photographs, rule books, anual reports, track plans, keys, ticket punchers, and drawings associated with the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and its predecessors. The materials are listed in no particular order.

Series V: Gift of Carl Leaman, (1858-1944) is composed almost exclusively of timetables for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and its predecessor railroad lines of the Hartford, Providence & Fishkill Railroad, the New York, Providence & Boston Railroad, the Connecticut Valley Railroad, the Old Colony Railroad, and the Lowell and Lawrence Railroad. They are organized by railroad. It also includes a writing about the electrification of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad and a listing of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad station numbers.

Series VI: Realia, consists of a cup and saucer used on the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad dining cars.

Series after VI all contain additions to the collection that came after 2013.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of materials in this collection may also be found in the Archives & Special Collections digital repository

University Railroad Collection
Archives & Special Collections staff
2011 January
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US