Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Hartford Produce Terminal

Over in Hartford, the state is removing a ramp from I-91 to Rt. 5/15 since it has been replaced with a new configuration. This happens to go over the track that goes past the old Hartford Produce Terminal. Although there aren't any industries receiving cars at the old terminal, the Connecticut Southern (CSOR) services an industry (or two?) just beyond it. Because of this, my buddy Dale has been sitting in his truck for 8-12 hours a day so he can flag for the train when it comes through each day. 

I caught it this morning just after it switched the industry (All Waste, I think) and has picked up a cut of hoppers. Dale notified the workers on their lifts so they can come down, then give the train the OK to continue.

After it passes, Dale then installs a portable derail a little further up the street so the train cannot return.

And that's his job for the entire shift. The rest is sitting in his truck since somebody has to be there as long as the construction workers are on duty. In some cases these have been overnight shifts, where no train is coming through at all.

This track is served by CSOR, and I'm standing (when I took the picture) near the switch where it connects to the Valley Line, which is served by the P&W. That track is off to the right of the photo, and Hartford is to my back.

The Produce Terminal was built 1950-1. Dale helped relay 600' of track at the terminal within the last decade, although I'm not sure it has received any traffic since then.

These maps from 1953 show the general arrangement at that time. The track that's not dashed on the map is the Valley Line (and Chris has everything you need to know about that over on his site).

Here's a 1951 aerial photo:

Here's what it looks like today:

Here's the industry that's being served:

It looks like they have some sort of small power to move cars:

This is a very extensive facility. It's accessed via a switchback just beyond the Terminal.

Since Jim may be modeling this too, I took a bunch of pictures:

They have an EMD truck here, Dale said the spring is shot.

I don't remember what this is...
But it's sitting on the main lead for the Terminal. The track it's sitting on is short.
The other runs the length of the building.

Looking the other way.  

There is another track that comes in about a third of the way down.
It's in the same line as the shorter track, and used to connect to the main industry track too.

Some of the center platform is being removed to allow trucks to use the main platform.

About a third of the way down the building, the shorter track ends at a Hayes bumper.
You can see the second track curving in from the left. It used to connect to the main industry track at this location as well, but now just continues down the side of the center platform.

We didn't measure, but think the center platform is about 8' wide.
There is one track along the building to the right of the platform, and one on the other side.
I don't see evidence of more.

In the picture above I'm looking back to the leads. You can see the bumper to the right.
Turning around, I'm looking down the 600' of track that Dale helped relay about a decade ago.
I'm not sure any cars have been delivered since then, but the track is still in service.

It's an extensive terminal, with a capacity on the two tracks of probably 40 reefers back in the day. It's impressive that business was significant enough in 1950-1 that a facility like this was built. Prior to this, the reefers would be serviced in the Morgan St. yard a little further up the Valley Line. It's not clear to me whether the Terminal was railroad built/owned, or if the city did it and simply needed railroad service.

Here are a few more maps around the junction between the terminal track and the Valley Line. I haven't been able to dig up the Sanborn maps, and the valuation maps I have are too early.


  1. I remember passing by the area while driving on I-91 north. I remember seeing a couple of passenger cars decorated in a Pennsy scheme. I wondered about their history and who owned them.

    1. Yes, they are still there. They are owned by the brother of the owner of the Central New England (CNZR). But Amtrak doesn't allow privately owned cars anymore. I guess they used to rent them out, but now they just sit there.