HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

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GP30M4216
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HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

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This is a trip report from Connecticut which is now several months old. But I promise, it has a direct tie-in to Thanksgiving!

This is the story of the Housatonic Railroad, a short line which operates in southwest Massachusetts, western Connecticut, and eastern New York. Their mainline extends south from Pittsfield, Mass., where they interchange with the CSX on the old B&A/NYC main line. Canaan, CT is an important point for their operations and the home of their locomotive shop. It's also the home of a landmark 2-story wooden union depot which is rather famous, and was torched about 10 years ago. The accurate rebuild is just about complete. The railroad gets its name from the Housatonic River, which is parallels over much of its route. The line is very scenic through the river valley south of Falls Village, although there are interesting scenic areas north through fields and towns on the way to Pittsfield, too.

2022 10-year anniversary update: I had to rearrange this a bit to fix all the broken photo links, but I promise there is a Thanksgiving tie in. Keep reading below the replies below to find the rest of the photos and report. I hope you enjoy.
HSRR 3601 Housatonic River 7-17-2012.jpg
1. I first caught their short northbound train north of West Cornwall, in the Housatonic Valley. The railroad runs along the east shore of the river, while US Route 7 runs along the west. A narrow dirt road parallels the tracks most of the distance going north from West Cornwall up to near Falls Village. This road provides a few opportunities for scenic pictures, but the trains move fast enough you can't get too many shots. The first view shows the road on the left closely paralleling the line, with the river to the right.
HSRR 3601 south of Falls River 7-17-2012.jpg
2. A few places have large enough gaps in the trees to allow for the sun to come in.


3. The line crosses this small creek north of Falls Village along Route 126.
HSRR 3601 Point of Rocks Road 7-17-2012.jpg
Last edited by GP30M4216 on Thu Nov 24, 2022 11:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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AARR
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Re: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

Unread post by AARR »

I enjoyed reading your report GP30 but all the pictures are white boxes with red X's in them.

Both Trains Mag and Model Railroader had extensive article about Housatonic RR several years ago.

Major customers are trash, lumber transload, and lime. Paper and plastic is next.
PatC created a monster, 'cause nobody wants to see Don Simon no more they want AARR I'm chopped liver, well if you want AARR this is what I'll give ya, bad humor mixed with irrelevant info that'll make you roll your eyes quicker than a ~Z~ banhammer...

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Re: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

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Hey Don, what's the only thing you can't get a Alice's Restaurant?

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Re: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

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J T wrote:Hey Don, what's the only thing you can't get a Alice's Restaurant?
Service from Alice?
PatC created a monster, 'cause nobody wants to see Don Simon no more they want AARR I'm chopped liver, well if you want AARR this is what I'll give ya, bad humor mixed with irrelevant info that'll make you roll your eyes quicker than a ~Z~ banhammer...

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Re: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

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HSRR 3601 Canaan Yard 7-17-2012.jpg
4. Arriving at Canaan, they picked up a hopper to join their high sided gondola from a siding between Falls Village and Canaan.


There is always switching to be done in Canaan. A large lime kiln is located here on the old route going east from the diamond in town. Covered hoppers are the main type of car here. They also store cars here on their sidings for industries farther up and down the line. As said earlier, the road's diesel shop is located on the south side of Canaan Village. It is hard to view from Route 7, but can be seen at some distance across the green from the parking lot at the Canaan Country Club.

HSRR 3601 Route US-44 Canaan 7-17-2012.jpg
5. 3601 has set off the two cars it picked up south of town to switch out the lime kiln. First, they rearrange cars on the siding near downtown Canaan Village. This is shown at the Route 7 crossing.

HSRR 3601 Route US-44 Canaan B 7-17-2012.jpg
6. 3601 is one of a small fleet of former PRR GP35s which comprise Housatonic's primary road fleet. Most of them have been rebuilt into GP38M's, but 3601 remains a turbo'ed 35 all the way, sporting a very nice looking rendition of the Housatonic's scheme. Note the crossbuck on the right, mounted to an old stick of rail.

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Re: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

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HSRR 3601 Lime Kiln Canaan A 7-17-2012.jpg
7. After assembling their cars and going around the wye onto the old line east of town, 3601 arrives at the kiln to switch cars. They are shown on the main track with the spurs splitting off behind the camera to the right.

After completing the switching, they brought 5 hoppers down from the kiln and backed them to their locomotive shop area, reassembling the whole train.

Heading north and now into Massachusetts, current Route 7 splits away from the line for several miles. But old Route 7, now called state route 7A, parallels the tracks through Ashley Falls up almost to Sheffield. Route 7A crosses over the line north of Ashley Falls and then joins the line to cross the Housatonic River on a pair of interesting bridges.
HSRR 3601 Ashley Falls Housatonic Bridge A 7-17-2012.jpg
7. Wider view showing the train northbound over the river with the road bridge beside. The lighting for this northbound run at midday was very difficult.
HSRR 3601 Ashley Falls Housatonic Bridge C 7-17-2012.jpg
8. Really hauling! The wildflowers add a nice touch.

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Re: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

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HSRR 3601 Sheffield A 7-17-2012.jpg
10. North of Sheffield, the line passes through an open plain near Egremont Road. A zoomed view down the line, with some distortion from the 90 degree summer heat!

HSRR 3601 Sheffield B 7-17-2012.jpg
11. Wider view

HSRR 3601 Sheffield C 7-17-2012.jpg
12. The train heads to Great Barrington, passing an old cat-eye crossbuck from an earlier era!

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Re: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

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And now for the Thanksgiving reference..... You may know a famous song traditional to this day which is titled "Alice's Restaurant Massacree," which includes the following song lyrics:

"Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on
Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the
restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the
church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and
Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of
room downstairs where the pews used to be in. Havin' all that room,
seein' as how they took out all the pews, they decided that they didn't
have to take out their garbage for a long time....."


Another lyric states "Walk right in it's around the back, just a half a mile from the railroad track, you can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant..." The restaurant was a half a mile from the railroad track, but the song doesn't mention that the church was literally a pebble's toss from the Housatonic Railroad line. North of Great Barrington (the song mentions the town of Stockbridge, the next town further the north) stands the Guthrie Center at Trinity Church, the very focus of the lengthy and sometimes rambling Thanksgiving Day radio tradition by Arlo Guthrie.

HSRR 3601 Division Street A 7-17-2012.jpg
12. 3601 still running north approaches the Division Street crossing, at the church site (interestingly, Division also features a cool old iron truss bridge just east of the church site)

HSRR 3601 Division Street B 7-17-2012.jpg
13. A Housatonic maintainer flags the crossing while testing new crossing protection as the train blows through the crossing, with the church in the background.

Guthrie Center A 7-17-2012.jpg
14. A side view of the church. It's a beautiful board and batten New England country building.

I hope you enjoyed the narrative! Not Michigan but still an interesting route to follow. Sorry there aren't twenty seven eight-by-ten color glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Aaaaaand in case anyone doesn't know the song I'm referencing, here's a link to the song:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m57gzA2JCcM

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Re: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

AARR wrote:
Fri Nov 23, 2012 7:35 am
I enjoyed reading your report GP30 but all the pictures are white boxes with red X's in them.

Both Trains Mag and Model Railroader had extensive article about Housatonic RR several years ago.

Major customers are trash, lumber transload, and lime. Paper and plastic is next.
Hey AARR, it's been a decade-long minute, but I fixed the photos here :lol:

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Re: HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Housatonic RR Guthrie Holiday report

Unread post by GP30M4216 »

And finally, because you can't have enough photos of GP35s doing things, here are a few other photos of Housatonic Railroad trains from other visits to the area. I haven't been to this part of western CT or MA in several years, but it sounds like at least some of their small fleet of GP35 carbodies are still moving freight along the banks of the Housatonic River, augmented by a couple of leaser Geep units. 3601 might have been a crew favorite. I have found it has been leading almost every Housatonic train I've seen!

HousatonicRR 3601 Canaan Yard 9-14-2014 G.jpg
Housatonic 3601 and a southbound train layover at the Canaan, CT railroad shops. September 14, 2014.

Housatonic 3601 Lime Kiln Rd Canaan CT 6-27-2011.jpg
3601 and sister 3603 switch out the Lime Kiln at Canaan, east of town, on a bright June 27, 2011.

Housatonic 9935 Canaan Yard 6-27-2011.jpg
This re-engined Alco RS3 unit received an EMD engine during Conrail years. It is of DLW origin. I believe it was inoperable at this time and am not sure if it has been returned to operation since. The attractive yellow and green scheme clearly looks good on both EMD and Alco carbodies! This is at the Canaan shops, south of the diamond and wye site. June 27, 2011.

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