Saturday, September 8, 2007

New Haven Locomotive

New Haven Locomotive

Shown here is a snapshot that I purchased some time ago from eBay. Many times I would find myself simply buying up images that had even a tangential connection to Canton. Here is a great example. Of course, the New Haven Railroad has more than just a casual relationship to the history of the town. The railroad practically "built" the town. From approximately 1834 to the present day - close to 175 years, we have had a close connection to the steel rails.

Noted for our Canton Viaduct - which I am sure to cover in some future installment - the rail line that passes through the Canton Junction is among the oldest in America. And, surprisingly little has changed. originally the Boston & Providence Railroad which was a project begun with the incorporation in June, 1831. From that day forward, the Town of Canton would be forever shaped by the Iron Horse.

In 1888 the Boston & Providence Railroad was leased to the Old Colony Railroad, which in turn was leased to the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in 1893. New Haven Railroad owned the line for the better part of 76 years.

This photo was taken in May 1939 and shows the mighty coal engine of the New Haven as it rumbles through Canton Junction. This particular locomotive is one of the New Haven Class H-1 Atlantic type 4-4-2 built 1907 by Alco Schenectady NY. Sources at the NHRTA tell me that the last one was removed from service 1947. "Atlantics" of this type were built with hauling wood-frame passenger cars in mind. Around the 1910's though, American railroads started buying steel passenger cars, which precipitated the introduction of heavier and stronger engines. Nonetheless, it would appear that this engine was used until the near bitter end of steam locomotive fleets.

A few small buildings show in the background but otherwise this is a fairly non-nondescript picture. Like many such snapshots, the stories are embedded in the minds of the people associated with the place. In this case, as a boy I was always found climbing up the steep embankments if the rail-line and would feel the rush of adrenaline as the locomotives rushed through Canton Junction. You could hear the singing of the rails, the hum in the air and the vibrations were the warning.

It is funny how a small image like this can bring back memories, and the railroad in Canton has strong associations. The stories of the Revere and Kinsley Families, the bridges over the tracks, the stone arches and the waterfall, the stories of crashes and of air raid watches. It seems to me more than merely a literal link to our history, it is also a memorable one as well.

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