Thursday, 3 September 2015

Housatonic Railway Equipment

Two units of the Housatonic RR are tied up on Sunday morning outside the engine house. 

The Berkshire Hills Route

by Don Janes

     As George posted a while ago, we stopped in Canaan, CT. on May 31 on the way home from the 2015 Collinsville RPM meet.  We wanted to get some pictures of the old New Haven/B&M station which has been recently rebuilt after a devastating fire.  While standing on the platform we looked south and saw what we thought looked like some locomotives so while visiting the local hobby shop we inquired about our sighting.  The owner said it was the Housatonic RR shop and kindly gave us directions.  The railroad shop is located along side the mainline and across the tracks from a golf coarse.  We parked out of the way and made our way along the edge of the coarse which was pretty empty due to a dull, overcast day with rain threatening.  We managed to get quite a few shots of the equipment stored at the facility.  
     Just north of the station is a yard that had a lot of cars in it and the hobby shop owner said there was likely a train heading north up this former  New Haven RR line towards Pittsfield, MA. working the small towns along the way.  When we left Canaan to head up towards I-90 and make our way home we checked out several locations but didn't find any trains.
This was the other unit in the consist.  It appears to be an ex- Santa Fe GP-7 or 9 that went through their rebuilding program quite a few years ago.  It ended up on the Bangor and Aroostook RR before joining the Housatonic roster.
Another view of the lash-up sitting at the fuel rack.
This GP-35 looks like her front truck might be in for repairs as it is sitting on a freight car truck.  You can clearly see the bolster and traction motor blower ducts under the unit.
          The Housatonic locomotives are painted in a very attractive green and yellow scheme and for the most part seem to be well maintained.  I'm not sure what the extent of their roster is or if there are other locomotives based at other locations.  There were a couple of old NS locomotives beside the shop that were stored as a parts source to keep the Housatonic roster in running condition.  
     Along with the locomotives was a very clean caboose and an ex Pennsylvania RR baggage car.  I have to assume the baggage car is used for storage.  It is really in very good condition aside from some rust streaks and still has the original portal windows on the baggage doors.
One of my favorite locomotive is the Alco RS-3.  This unit is in great condition and looks to be in perfect working order. Closer inspection shows it has been rebuilt with an EMD engine as evidenced by the 36" fans above the radiator shutters.
Housatonic caboose 654 is in great shape.  The side windows have been blanked over to ward off vandals.  As cabooses go it is a fairly modern car

As can be seen in these photos, the two ex NS units are for parts supply to keep the other units going. 
These engines were set up for long hood forward operation as evidenced by the bell on the long hood meaning they were likely of Norfolk and Western or Southern heritage.  This would be a good unit to try to duplicate the weathering on!
The ex PRR baggage car is in pretty good shape considering its age and exposure to the elements.
Another view of the Housatonic facility.  You can just make out the Canaan station in the left of the photo.
     It was nice to finally see this little short line in person.  I had read about it and seen photos of the trains but never really knew where to find any locomotives or equipment.  Hopefully next year on our Collinsville weekend we can stop in again and see what's new in Canaan and on the Housatonic RR.  Maybe also see a train out on the road or switching in the yard.  Even though the day was a very overcast it was great to discover another of the many colourful short lines in New England.


  1. I like their paint scheme! Nice to see the BAR colours still around..

  2. Hi George, I know it's a little late for this, but I thought you'd enjoy the information none the less in case you stop by here on any upcoming trips of yours. Here's a little information on the railroad and it's operations.... The Housatonic Railroad Co. owns the Berkshire Line between Danbury, Connecticut and Pittsfield, Massachusetts and the Maybrook Line between Danbury and Derby, CT. They currently own ten locomotives, 3600, 3601 and 3604 are the active road units, while 3602 is the New Milford based power for the job that handles the BL and ML south of there and 22 is based out of Canaan and rarely handles anything other than switching within the yard limits and running to various industries in the area. 22 is an EMD GP7u, built in 1952 as a high hood GP7 for the ATSF, it was rebuilt sometime in the late 1970s or '80s to a low nose GP7u, BAR received it in 1991, it stayed in service with them until MMA took over the line. When MMA was closed a couple years ago it was purchased by the HRRC, and underwent significant work before it was finally operable, it wasn't in active service until early 2015. 3603 was the third unit to receive a wiring upgrade to Dash 3 specifications, however it developed an error with one of the onboard computers and was inoperable after that, since then one of it's traction motors has been removed and is currently on one of the other units.

    If you would like to catch them here's a little information on their schedule.

    They run on a six-day per week schedule, NX-11 (the Canaan Switcher) runs Monday-Friday coming on at 7AM, they switch out the Specialty Minerals plant on the stub of the old CNE first, then bring the loads to the wye and exchange them with NX-12 (the Canaan-Pittsfield road job). NX-12 works Sunday-Friday, on Sunday's they come on at 6:30 do all the switching around Canaan and head north, usually they're out of the yard around 10AM, after interchanging with CSX, they tie down at Lenox for the day. On Monday they drive to Lenox and either take the train light to Pittsfield to pick up more cars or continue south to Canaan, this is to have all of the locomotives in Canaan before 1PM so they can be fueled and serviced. Tuesday-Friday they come on at 8AM pick up the cars from the previous night's NX-13 south of the engine shops then grab more from NX-11 at the wye. They then head north to Lenox and usually make a 10-15 minute stop for switching there before continuing to Pittsfield, on a good day without issues on CSX, they're back in Canaan before 3:30PM, but they're more often than not delayed, if they won't be at Canaan before 3:30, they tie down at Lenox and the train gets recrewed by NX-13. They take it back to Canaan, set out the lime empties in the yard for NX-11 and then head south to New Milford. They work Monday-Friday and take NX-12's cars and power to NM, they set out all cars for the industries on the south end of the line (mainly centerbeams for Shepaug and Interstate Lumber and trash cars for Winter Brothers) and then head to the Kimberly-Clark paper mill just south of town and switch that (it's quite an impressive operation they perform to switch the facility, involving a climb of a 5% grade and backing the train into a loading bay), they're usually done with that around 6PM and head back to Canaan, they drop their train just south of the shops then park their power on the fuel pad for the night. I have never made it down to chase NX-10, but I know that they work Monday-Friday 8AM-2PM and usually start by switching KC, then heading south to Berkshire Jct. and working their way down the ML to Botsford (Interstate Lumber), on the very rare occasion they will take a car or two to Derby and pass it over to Pan Am.

    I hope this information is helpful for you, I personally recommend chasing NX-12 northbound, it passes through some very scenic area, though not as many as NX-13, but it's much easier to chase, and a few spots are usually very good.


    1. Thanks Joshua for the information...will keep it on hand as I thought about spending a day chasing the train on my trip to New England...wish I had this information when at Springfield a few weeks back...George