Mr. Blakeslee hired out on the New Haven as fireman in Nov. 1899. He fired on the Air Line, Canal, Shore Line and New York divisions. Was promoted to engineer on Nov. 29, 1904 and worked on the Berkshire-Naugatuck division, running out of every engine terminal on that division, later known as the Western Division.
From January, 1915 until February, 1920, he was Division Examiner on the Book of Rules, returning to engineer and worked until retired December 13, 1947.
The maps used in this edition were prepared by your editor, and are shown for information, they are not true to scale.
The photographs used are from the collection of Mr. Blakeslee and Mr. D. W. Peckham. As we write these lines, we do not know how they will turn out, as this will be our first attempt at photo reproduction.
The Directors of The Railroad Enthusiasts, Inc. hope you will like this booklet and your comments and criticisms are invited.
There are some people who say To Hell with yesterday, what's doing today ? Of course we must take care of the present and prepare for the future, but for those who are interested in our railroad, it is hoped that this little history may be of some interest.
For a number of years in the fore part of the century, the territory west of New London and Willimantic, Conn. was known as Lines West, and east of these points as Lines East. A number of original independent railroads once comprised the Lines West territory which later became a part of the present New York, New Haven and Hartford System and we are trying to give dates and other matters pertaining to them.
Much of the historical information about the old Housatonic and also the Air Line, Shore Line and other parts of the railroad was furnished by Mr. D. W. Peckham, retired train dispatcher. Mr. Peckham was a train dispatcher of very unusual ability. He dispatched trains on the Berkshire, Air Line, Shore Line and Naugatuck Lines. In his time the single track roads were alive with trains. In the early 1900's, on the Berkshire, there were five or six second class trains each way every night. They all had time card meeting points between New Milford and Canaan, 38 miles, and not a night operator on duty between these points and dispatchers telephones hadn't been thought of at that time. Peckham would turn those trains loose at Canaan and New Milford with meet orders on the five or six trains and if none of the brothers stubbed their toes, the meets would all be made with little or no delay. Conductors and engineers were always glad when they received orders signed (CX). Mr. Peckham has a wonderful memory and his source of information on old time railroading is unlimited.
P. C. Blakeslee
January 27, 1952
The Berlin-Middletown branch was opened in 1850. The Berlin-New Britain branch was opened January 1863 and the Suffield branch,Windsor Looks to Suffield opened in 1870.
The New Haven and Northampton Railroad was opened New Haven to Plainville in January 1848 and to Westfield, Mass. in 1855, and to Northampton in 1858. In 1881 it was opened to a point east of Shelburne Falls at Conway, on what is now the Boston and Maine Railroad formerly Troy Greenfield and Fitchburg RR.
What is now known as the New Hartford branch was opened November 1, 1876.
The Holyoke and Westfield Railroad, now Holyoke branch, was opened for freight October 16, 1871 and for passenger service Nov. 25, 1871.
The Williamsburg branch, Williamsburg to Northampton, was opened February 1, 1868. The South Deerfield-Turners Falls branch was opened October 31, 1881.
The New Haven and Northampton RR had more branches than any of the other lines. In the early 1900's this road, called unofficially The Canal was a very busy railroad. There were four passenger trains a day each way in and out of New Haven; there were also 8 time table, 2nd class, freight trains, every day and from 1 to 5 call extras out of New Haven.
Also for 2 or 3 years prior to 1905, there were 5 passenger trains a day each way between New Haven and Waterbury via the Cheshire Loop and the Meriden Branch, formerly the Meriden, Waterbury and Connecticut River RR. These trains made the trip from New Haven to Waterbury, Dublin Street Station, in 50 minutes. These trains were well patronized. They often sent an engine from Hartford on Sunday nights to help the trains over the steep grade from West Cheshire to Summit. The coming of the New Haven-Waterbury trolleys spelled their doom and these trains were discontinued in the fall of 1905. Dispatcher telephones were first tested out on this line in 1909.
May 14, 1887, the New Haven and Northampton Railroad was leased to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and was then known as the Northampton Division of that road. For a number of years, Mr. R. G. Curtis was Superintendent of the Northampton Division. In the early 1900's the Northampton Division was combined with the Air Line Division and was then known as the Air-Line-Northampton Division.