What are those walls?

Heading east on Rte. 44 from the intersection with Rte. 219, one passes two retaining walls on the right. The first, at the corner with High Street, has a set of stairs running up it and faces the 44/219 intersection, while the second is angled across the Farmington River. These heavily built walls are so much a feature of the landscape that few people really notice them, and many assume that they are, in fact, simply retaining walls holding back the unusually sharply cut slope.

In fact, they are bridge abutments and reminders of New Hartford’s long vanished past as an industrial center and railroad town. The western abutment carried the railroad across High Street and into the center of town to the old railroad station, located where the library now stands. This long trestle must have been quite dramatic, high enough for wagons to pass under at the eastern end, but at its western end at street level. There is a well known photograph of a wagon team that had bolted onto the trestle and gotten stuck part way across, the horses were not hurt, but surely it was a peculiar situation.

The eastern abutment was the end of a bridge that spanned the Farmington River and went to a train station where the fire house is located. Indeed, the ambulance shed is actually a part of this station. This railroad also supplied the Greenwoods factories and the ice-house.

Abandoned by the 1930’s, the floods and then the realignment of Rte. 219 saw the complete removal of these two bridges, except for the those two abutments, still standing as reminders.

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Filed under Industry, Roads

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