Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Today's Train of Thought- The Strates Story, September 7, 2011

Today's train of thought takes us to Connecticut for a yearly- yet seemingly timeless- ritual in the western corner of the Nutmeg state.

Since the Great Depression, the Orlando, FL based James E Strates carnival train has been travelling up and down the east coast. The train typically consists of 50 flatcars, 10 sleeping cars and a generator car.

One fairly recent stop that the current 61-car train added to its East Coast tour in the last decade is the Danbury City Fair. And for the Strates carnival train, the way in and out of Danbury is the Housatonic Railroad's line between Danbury, CT and Pittsfield, MA. Acquiring the line incrementally throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, the Housatonic earns its keep by hauling paper products, limestone, plastics, liquefied natural gas, lumber and construction debris on a near daily basis- not bad for a line that both Guilford and Conrail seemed more than willing to leave for dead.

However, in addition to the near-daily freight on the Canaan running track Interchanging with the CSX in Pittsfield, MA and Providence & Worcester in Danbury, each summer brings the sight of the unique and colorful Strates Carnival Train through the rolling hills of Western Massachusetts and Northwestern Connecticut.

Here, contributor Dave Jacobs caught Housatonic GP35M #3603 leading a trio of EMDs south with the distinctive Strates trainset at River Rd in Cornwall, CT in June 2007 as the line parallels its namesake river.

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