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All Aboard: From Rails To Trails

May 4, 2007

SHANNON HICKS

    All Aboard: From Rails To Trails

    MONROE – Local railroad historian and lecturer Sue A. DelBianco, the author of The Last Phantom Train, will present a slide show and talk titled “From Rails to Trails” on Saturday, May 12, at 1 pm. The program is free and will be held in the meeting room at The Edith Wheeler Memorial Library.

    Ms DelBianco will present images of places, people, and artifacts related to the once heavily traveled Housatonic Railroad that served passengers and carried freight from Bridgeport to Pittsfield, Mass., between 1840 and 1960. Slides will show views that recall the time when the railroad was first being laid down in 1836.

    Connecticut towns once served by the now-defunct north-south rail line included Trumbull, Monroe, Newtown, Hawleyville, Brookfield, New Milford, Kent, Cornwall Bridge, West Cornwall, and Canaan. By the middle of the last century, the function of the Housatonic Railroad to move passengers and freight was gradually replaced by trucks and cars traveling on paved roads and superhighways.

    After the completion of the Merritt Parkway in the 1930s, and I-91 and I-84 in the 1950s and 1960s, the rail line faded into oblivion. Yet the north-south right of way has for the most part been preserved as open space.

    Today, the rail tracks have been pulled up, but the transportation corridor through the Housatonic and Pequannock Valleys has become one of Connecticut’s best biking and hiking parks, thanks to efforts of local citizens and a nationwide conservancy program called Rails-to-Trails. Ms DelBianco will discuss future plans to complete the pedestrian friendly rail trail from Bridgeport into Newtown at Botsford, creating a 16-mile greenway.

    The program will be followed by a book signing session. Ms DelBianco’s book, The Last Phantom Train, is a mystery novella set in New England, where a mysterious train appears and has the ability to travel through time.

    The library, at 733 Monroe Turnpike, can be reached for additional information by calling 452-2850.