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Airline Rail Trail, East Thompson Road Access - Thompson, CT
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 00.510 W 071° 48.510
19T E 267427 N 4654536
Quick Description: Near where the Airline State Park Trail crosses East Thompson Road was the site of the nation's only four train collision.
Location: Connecticut, United States
Date Posted: 2/25/2018 7:09:48 AM
Waymark Code: WMXTJ8
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member wayfrog
Views: 1

Long Description:
In the Thompson village of East Thompson is the parking lot and access point to the Airline Trail State Park, which runs the length of the state along an old railroad line.

The parking area is located along East Thompson Road, just northeast of the village center. The parking lot is a turnoff from the road. There is a small kiosk next to a sign of the Airline Trail State Park. The trail is on both sides of the road with a gate at either entrance. The parking lot here is pretty small - about 5 cars can fit here.

The trail is protected by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) as a state park trail. This trail runs in three segments. There is the southern segment that is about 22 miles long, the northern section, which is 21 miles, and this addition in Thompson 6.6 miles long, making about 50 miles, total.

From this location, you can go either east toward Massachusetts and continuation of the rail trail in Douglas, or go west further into Thompson. We first walked west for about a half mile, then turned around and walked back, then on to the border with Massachusetts. The way both ways is through woods. The grade is easy to follow. The terrain is mostly flat and dirt. On the east side, we saw a bridge for a path or road. One page described the remains of a depot near the parking lot, but I didn't see evidence of it.

The web site from CT DEEP has some historical information about the trail. This is the beginning of their text:

"The trail takes its name from the imaginary line drawn from New York to Boston, through the “air” so to speak, to illustrate the shortest possible route between these two major east coast cities. Building a completely new rail line however proved economically infeasible so, for practical reasons, the “Air Line” as it came to be called, used existing rails from New York to New Haven and began its journey to the northeast from there. On its way to Boston, the Air Line overcame tremendous obstacles in Connecticut’s eastern highlands including ridges, valleys and of course, politics.

Construction began in the late 1860s and by 1870 the first construction milestone, track from New Haven to Middletown, was celebrated. " This section was completed in August 1872. Traffic from New York to Boston commenced. A major flood in 1955 in Putnam crippled the line, and by the 1960s, the Interstate highways were built, ending efforts to rebuild.

At this location was a major train wreck on December 4, 1891. There are sources and an existing Waymark at this location that relate this in more detail. It is amazing that despite having four trains collide, one of them a passenger train, only two deaths were recorded - an engineer of one of the trains, and a conductor of another.

Sources: (East Thompson Train Wreck):
(visit link)

(visit link)
Country: United States of America

State/Province/etc.: Connecticut

Trail Start (town): Thompson

Trail Finish (town): East Hampton

Trail Length: 50

Trail Surface: Dirt

Pack Animals Allowed: no

Fees: no

Rail-to-Trail Sign:
Airline Trail Rails to Trails A Connecticut State Park

Internet Link(s):

Visit Instructions:
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