Welcome to News From the Naugy, where we will share occasional news and views related to the efforts of the Railroad Museum of New England, operators of the Naugatuck Railroad in Connecticut's Naugatuck Valley. With a record of preservation stretching back more than forty years, we are actively working towards preserving New England's railroad heritage. Please feel free to explore our blog and contact us if you have any questions or comments. All aboard!
by Al Galanty Images from the collection of Al Galanty
was crucial for inland Connecticut towns. Other than the Connecticut River and
the Thames up to Norwich, most rivers were too shallow to support deep draft
vessels needed to haul large amounts of raw and finished materials. Roads at
the time were weather dependent and the wagons carried only so much due to the
undulating roads of Connecticut’s hills & valleys.
The first Connecticut
railroads starting in 1832 were mainly north/south affairs taking advantage of
the north/south running watercourses within the state. Eventually, Waterbury
was provided with its first railroad in 1849 connecting directly to the major
seaport of Bridgeport. With the completion of the railroad to Winsted a
few years later, the whole Naugatuck Valley became a center of manufacturing.
The Naugatuck Railroad
provided the ease of readily available transportation to move both the raw
materials and finished goods for the brass manufacturing companies which were
established along the Naugatuck River starting in the late 18th
Century. With larger and larger freight cars being carried on the railroads,
the industries were set to increase their capacity as well with the
introduction of larger and larger physical plants and machinery.
With the advent and
tremendous growth of the railroads in the United States, an opportunity was
presented to the brass industry to fulfill the need for railroad uniform
buttons. Railroad uniforms were adopted around 1880. This allowed the railroad
worker to be readily identified by the public and fellow workers. One of the
features of a uniform was the brass button. It was used for both practical and
Most buttons were made
of brass and constructed with a shank to be sewn to the garment. A different
variety of button was designed to be placed over a flat button and held by an
internal spring converting the button to a uniform design. The design of the
button varied from plain to ornate. Some railroads went through different
designs as time went on to present a more modern look.
Brass buttons are still
being produced in the region and Naugatuck Railroad uniform buttons are
available in the Gift Shop in Thomaston.
Below you can find a
selection of brass railroad buttons from the New England region. A
short description follows.
Naugatuck Railroad –
The grouping below is
related to the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, its predecessors and
New York Providence &
Boston built in 1832 (Steamer from NYC to Stonington CT by rail to Boston)
Old Colony: South shore
of Boston area.
New Haven and
Northampton (Mass) built in 1846 also known as the “Canal Line” which
paralleled the canal of the same name.
Central New England
& Western: Incorporated in 1889 – ran east/west from Hartford into New York
State and connected with the Naugatuck Railroad at Winsted.
Central New England Railway: The CNE&W
(above) was reincorporatedin 1899. Back
then, the railroads were subject to the machinations of Wall Street and the
Robber Barons (much like the Silicon Valley corporations of today). The history
of this railroad is a complex one.
Providence & Worcester: Started in 1845
between its namesake cities.
York, New Haven & Hartford: Incorporated in 1872. This button is probably
the earliest version.
NYNH&H with the “&” in the design.
“script” herald, probably the most attractive.
Central: formed in 1968 and included the New Haven, New York Central and
Formed in 1976 from the Penn Central and other bankrupt northeast railroads.
Central Terminal: Where the New Haven RR had its southern terminus.
formed in 1971 to provide passenger service. Owns the track from New Haven to
Boston and New Haven to Springfield.
and Aroostook: known as the “B and A” in Maine.
Central: Served Portland Maine north to central Maine and east to the Canadian
border. The Portland & Ogdensburg was acquired and became the famous
“Mountain Division” which is now part of the Conway Scenic Railroad.
Eastern Railroad: was incorporated into the
Boston & Maine system.
Boston & Maine:
Mechanicville NY to Portland,Maine. The historic Hoosac Tunnel in North Adams
Mass figured prominently in this railroad’s history. The Mass Central ran
east/west in the middle of the state from Boston to Northampton on the
A “shell” variant – this
was slipped over a regular button.
Boston, Revere Beach
& Lynn: an early “commuter” railroad from Boston to the North Shore.
Boston and Albany: New
England’s earliest east/west railroad which was formed from the Boston &
Worcester and the Western Railroad which went west to Albany. It was eventually
incorporated into the New York Central System in 1948.
Bennington & Rutland
Railroad. Ran up the Western side of Vermont and was eventually incorporated
into the Rutland Railroad.
Northern/Central Vermont: Ran from New London Ct to the north to Canadian
below illustrate the various crafts within the railroad industry.