New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad

In 1841 the Western Railroad, later the Boston and Albany, operated train service east and west, followed in 1855 by extension of the Canal Road, later the New Haven, to Westfield. By the time the RR was completed in 1871, the stations were located, and tremendous activity centered around the trains now heading North/South as well as East/West.

When the canal was built, the labor was largely provided by Irish immigrants seeking refuge here to escape intolerable conditions and hardships in their native land as had the early English settlers. These men remained to operate the completed canal and when its useful days were over the newcomers excavated and leveled the railroad bed and laid the rails and, finally, to a great extent, took over the operation of the railroads.

As traffic and travel increased, delay, caused by passenger and freight trains and switching operations while lowered gates blocked the North Elm St crossing, became more and more annoying and caused more numerous complaints. After 1902, when street cars operated and found it impossible to keep a schedule, such delays became intolerable. Suggested arrangements to abolish the crossings were discussed.

Wide difference of opinion existed whether the remedy should be an underpass or overpass. When the work was undertaken and completed in 1896 in a way it was a compromise, for the tracks were raised a bit and the entire section from the rairoad between North Elm St and Union Ave, and northerly from the railroad to Montgomery St was excavated and carried away.  The New York, New Haven & Hartford line operated until February 1933.

    Picture above shows the railroad slicing through Westfield as it would have appeared in the mid to late 1800's. The New York, New Haven & Hartford line operated until February 1933. The Columbia Greenway will follow this now elevated route through town, creating what is believed to be the second longest elevated greenway in the United States. It will cross 7 bridges, and provide 2.5 miles of above street level access.