Thursday, October 18, 2007

On the Old Railroad Bed

About a hundred years ago some would-be magnates had the brilliant idea of connecting Port Chester, New York, with Ridgefield, Connecticut, and points beyond via railroad through Pound Ridge. They got as far as building part of the railroad bed on the east slope of the Mill River valley, about a quarter of a mile from where I live, before bankruptcy stopped them. I don’t go there often but late yesterday afternoon my son and I decided to check it out. What remains extends only for a short distance – a narrow raised bed through the woods, cleared, mostly, except for some small trees and fallen branches. On one side of the road it’s on water company property. It’s not far into the woods but even if you know it’s there you can’t see it from the road. Another remnant is visible further north and across the road, behind an old white house. In this picture Kaare is standing on the bed and, even though the light is bad, you can sort of see how it's raised above the rest of the woodland.

on the old RR bed

In two places, streams cut down the bank toward the Mill River. The railroad builders created culverts of native stone – massive and solid and still in good shape. I didn’t measure but my guess is that the openings are about 4 feet by 4 feet. The light was fading when we were there yesterday, but here’s what one of the culverts looks like, close up and further away.

stone culvert close-up

stone culvert
I love them because they're still in great shape after having been adandoned a century ago, and also because we can look at them with a sense of relief and wonder -- imagine what Pound Ridge would have been like if the railroad had been completed.

4 Comments:

Blogger Larry said...

We've got the Airline Rail Trail running through this part of the state. Saving the old rail beds is a great idea.I still like to explore the portions that are no longer there.It's great to read about their former histories too.

6:20 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Where is this?

There is a section of the old RR Bed in Ridgefield off of RT 35 as you head towards Pound Ridge. According to the Ridgefield Historian, the line was really a paper tiger which I guess was really just a way to rip off investors before anything major was accomplished.

If you look on some of the deBeers maps you will see where they intended on building a line.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Tom Andersen + Gina Federico said...

It's off Trinity Pass, near Eastwoods Road, on land owned by the company that supplies water to Stamford. Parts of it are visible from the road.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Which ties directly in with the section in Ridgefield. That's cool! I believe there was another attempt to connect to Port Chester from Ridgebury (the section between Ridgebury and Danbury) but again it could have either been another paper tiger or part of this project.

There was a trolley line that went from Ridgebury to Danbury but the railroad bed continued on into North Salem. There are sections of this bed still visible along rt 121 and 116 but then it dries up around Cross River.

3:29 PM  

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