The Alphabet Route

New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad



    The New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad (commonly known as the "New Haven") was formed July 24, 1872 with the merger of the New York & New Haven and Hartford & New Haven railroads.  It operated from New York, NY, to Springfield, MA (via New Haven, CT).  In the early years, the New Haven expanded aggressively via acquisitions and mergers to expand its original 450 route miles to 2047 route miles by 1900.

Pre 1900

    The Hartford & New Haven was the first line of the original system to open in 1839.  It ran from Hartford to New Haven and had steamboat connections to New York, NY, and Springfield, MA.  In 1844 it added rail connections to Worcester and Boston.  The New York and New Haven opened in 1848, using trackage rights over the New York and Harlem Railroad (later part of the NYC system) from Woodlawn south to New York, NY.  Early experiments with electrification were performed on several branch lines in the 1890's.  Other railroads acquired in this timeframe include the Air Line (1873); Connecticut Valley (1882); Harlem River (1873); Housatonic (1889); Meriden, Waterbury, and Connecticut River (1898); Naugatuck (1887); New Canaan (1884); New Haven and Northampton (1887); New York and New England (1898); New York Connecting [co-owned with Pennsylvania Railroad] (1892); New York, Providence and Boston (1893); Old Colony (1893); Providence and Worcester (1892); and Shepaug, Litchfield and Northern (1898).


    Around 1900, a group of New York investors led by JP Morgan gained control of the New Haven.  Charles S Mellen was installed as President in 1903.  Mellen and Morgan continued an aggressive expansion policy, achieving a monopoly of railroad, steam, and trolley lines in southern New England.  The New Haven reached 2131 route miles at its peak in 1929.  The Central New England railway was the New Haven's final acquisition in 1904.  This gained the Poughkeepsie Bridge as part of the New Haven.  Starting in 1912, Grand Central Terminal served as the New Haven's New York City terminal.  Also in 1912, the New York, Westchester & Boston railroad was formed as a subsidiary of the New Haven.  In 1914, the New Haven achieved complete electrification of the mainline.  By 1910, JP Morgan's monopoly building came under criminal investigation, and in 1914, 21 directors and ex-directors were indicted for "conspiricy to monopolize interstate commerce by acquiring the control of practically all the transportation facilities in New England".  The railroad almost went bankrupt during this time, and was run by the USRA during WW I.


    The New Haven Railroad reverted back to civilian ownership in 1920.  The 1920's saw the new management rebuild worn-out equipment and infrastructure.  This included modernizing the huge fleet of wooden boxcars.  A bus and trucking subsidiary called the "New England Transportation Company" was formed.  The Great Depression again caused financial problems for the New Haven.  In 1935, the New Haven petitioned the bankruptcy court for reorganization under section 77 of the bankruptcy laws.  The 1930's also saw the New Haven run the first streamlined passenger train in New England (the Goodyear Zeppelin "Comet") and initiate one of the first large scale piggyback freight operations.


    During the WW II years, the New Haven was introduced to mass dieselization.  The new Alco/GE DL-109 diesels were used around the clock in passenger service during the day and in freight service at night.  The New Haven was considered so important to the war effort that the government allowed them to obtain new diesel and electric locomotives during the war years.  Following the war, the New Haven purchased a large fleet of diesels and passenger cars.  The increase in traffic due to the war improved finances enough to bring the railroad out of trusteeship in 1947.  In 1948, financier Frederic C. Dumaine, Sr., took over control of the New Haven and cut costs dramatically, including firing all employees making over $10,000 per year.  After 1951, both freight and passenger service lost money.  Hurricane and flood damage during 1954 and 1955, coupled with the opening of the Connecticut Turnpike in 1958 further hurt the New Haven's bottom line.


    All of the financial troubles of the late 1950's saw the New Haven again go into bankruptcy in 1961.  At the insistence of the Interstate Commerce Commission, the New Haven became part of Penn Central on December 31, 1968.  A substantial part of the New Haven mainline was transferred to Amtrak in 1976 and is now a part of Amtrak's "Northeast Corrider".  Other lines became part of MTA's and MBTA's commuter lines.  In 1976, the remaining freight portion of the New Haven became part of Conrail.  In 1999, it became part of CSX in another merger.