Rutland Railway


Rutland Railway
For the UK railway see Rutland Railway Museum
Rutland Railway
Logo
Reporting mark R
Locale New York and Vermont
Dates of operation 1843–1963
Successor Vermont Railway
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) (standard gauge)

The Rutland Railway (reporting mark R) was a small railroad in the northeastern United States, primarily in the state of Vermont but extending into the state of New York. The earliest ancestor of the Rutland, the Rutland & Burlington Railroad, was chartered in 1843 by the state of Vermont to build between Rutland and Burlington. A number of other railroads were formed in the region, and by 1867 the Rutland & Burlington Railroad had changed its name to simply the Rutland Railroad.

Between 1871 and 1896 the Rutland Railroad was leased to the Central Vermont, regaining its independence when that road entered receivership. The New York Central Railroad briefly had a controlling interest in the Rutland from 1904, but sold half of its shares to the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad in 1911.

The Rutland's primary freight traffic was derived from dairy products and to many[by whom?] the railroad is fondly remembered by the long trains of milk that used to move over the system. At its peak the Rutland served about a 400-mile (600 km) system that roughly resembled an upside-down "L" running from Chatham, New York north to Alburgh, Vermont (the railroad's furthest northern terminus was Noyan, Quebec) and then west to Ogdensburg, New York along the St. Lawrence River. Never a solid financial operation, the Rutland entered receivership for the first time in 1938. Cost cutting, including wage reduction, brought things around. A reorganization in 1950 changed the name from Rutland Railroad to Rutland Railway.

Decline

Train over Rutland Falls in c. 1905

After World War II, the decline continued. Many branches were closed down. In 1950, the company was reorganized as the Rutland Railway. The year 1953 brought three weeks of employee strike action, which killed off the remaining passenger service on the line.

In 1961, after further strikes, the railroad apparently decided it was no longer viable, and applied to the Interstate Commerce Commission for complete abandonment. This was approved, and the railroad closed down on May 20, 1963. The strike was brought on by the employees' unwillingness to accept operational changes that would have moved the center of Rutland operations from Rutland to Burlington. This would have required them to relocate from Rutland to Burlington.

Rutland-Burlington Railroad passing through Proctor

The operational changes would have lengthened the runs, running from Burlington to Bellows Falls or Ogdensburg on one day, staying over and then running back the next day. Under current operating orders they would make the run from Rutland to Burlington or Bellows Falls and back in a day, or from Malone, New York running out and back to Ogdensburg and Burlington.

A few years later the national unions agreed to nationwide job changes that allowed this type of change.

Much of the right-of-way was purchased by the State of Vermont. The Northern Division across the top of New York State from Ogdensburg to Norwood remains in tracks. Interestingly, it is operated by Vermont Railway, so all the remaining trackage of the Rutland is operated by one company. Ownership of the railbed from Norwood to Burlington has been dispersed, but a 21-mile (34 km) section from Norwood to Moira is the multi-use Rutland Trail.

Steamtown

Until it was relocated to Scranton, Pennsylvania, The Steamtown Foundation, located near the Bellows Falls terminus operated tourist trains between the museum site and Chester, Vermont.

Following Steamtown’s departure, several tourist trains using the original Rutland rolling stock were operated.

External links



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