High St. Junction Rehabilitation Project
Central New England (C.N.E.) railroad operated in MA, CT and NY from 1871 through 1927.
Collinsville's train history is unique because there were two railroads that almost intersected but did not connect. The New Haven and Northampton (NH&N) came first in 1850, followed by the Central New England (C.N.E.) in 1871.
This early map shows High St. Junction and proximity of the two railroads with stops in Collinsville and Canton.
High Street Junction Station (pictured on the right) was a train depot built in 1886 by the Hartford & Connecticut Western (which became C.N.E. in 1900). It is one of the few remaining stations from this time period in existence. The historic depot sits at the Dyer Avenue end of the Collinsville Pollen Trail (Collinsville, CT) near Allen Place and Maple Avenue. In the 1920s it was located in the center of a track wye (triangular junction), enabling trains traveling in either direction to back down to the Collinsville center passenger station (at Bridge St. and River St.).
Saving High Street Junction has been a topic of interest among local activists for more than two decades. In November 2001, architect Roger Clarke sought to stabilize and repair the structure. He created a suggested action list and drew up preliminary plans. The project was picked up in 2020 by community members who strongly supported the preservation of the structure. Architect Don Tarinelli and Structural Engineer James Grant inspected the building in June 2021 and found it to be in sound structural condition and quite correctable in spite of its obvious tilt. Don Tarinelli prepared the following plan and elevation drawings documenting its features (see below).
Architectural rendering of High Street Junction in its current state by D. Tarinelli Architect (July 2021)
(6/18/22) Collinsville Historic District Commission, town leaders and residents discuss moving High Street Junction Station (visible in background) closer to the Farmington River Trail.
The goal as of 2022 is to secure funds to move the structure and seek additional funds to preserve and rehabilitate it. There is potential for rehabilitation grants, however receiving funding is predicated on the move. It will also be essential to prepare a concrete landing pad and properly stabilize the structure before it is moved even just a slight distance. The objective is to safely transport it in one piece without compromising its structural integrity. Before and after the structure is safely moved, the community must work with the town to determine a new use for the historic depot.
Historical Photographs from the University of Connecticut Archives & Special Collections
The west and south walls of High Street Junction Station are shown in this photo (c. 1890-1900). Note the train track on the right side of the building. Originally, a horse car on tracks brought passengers between the Dyer Avenue station and the Collinsville center station (at Bridge St. and River St.).
Looking east along C.N.E. across Dyer Avenue to Collinsville junction switch (October 23, 1925).
Looking north on current Dyer Avenue, a conductor stands at the grade crossing on Collinsville C.N.E. branch (October 23, 1925).
View of Gildersleeve Avenue grade crossing from east, trainman stands on west leg of Collinsville wye at River Road (c. 1925)
C.N.E. High Street Junction - Tracks to the left go to Collinsville and track to the right heads toward Winsted and on to Campbell Hill, NY (October 27, 1927).
The Collinsville center C.N.E. passenger station was located approximately where the cannon sits today at the corner of River St. and Bridge St. (see middle red arrow to the right). Maple Ave. which becomes Bridge St. (Rt. 179) now continues straight downtown past the the Collins Co. axe factory. The top red arrow shows the location of High Street Junction; the lowest red arrow marks the NH&N station.
C.N.E. train departing from Collinsville passenger station at River St. and Bridge St. The bridge in the background is the New Haven and Northampton (NH&N) railroad that also stopped in downtown Collinsville, but at a different station (the depot which is now the Crown & Hammer pub).
Special thanks to Roger Clarke (Architect), Marjorie Clarke, David Leff (Deputy Town Historian), Don Tarinelli (Architect), James Grant (Structural Engineer), Kathleen Taylor (Town Historian), Bob Bessel (First Selectman), Bill Volovski (Board of Selectmen), Holly Hambleton (Canton Land Conservation Trust; Collinsville Pollen Trail), Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office (Jenny Scofield, Marena Wisniewski, Mary Dunne) Town of Canton CAO (Bob Skinner), Department of Public Works (Bob Martin, Tom Richardson), Preservation Connecticut, Canton Historical Society , Collinsville Historic District Commission, and other supportive Collinsville neighbors and residents.
Connecticut's train history has been documented by Bob Belletzkie at TylerCityStation (scroll down to read Collinsville's fascinating train history).
http://nashuacitystation.org/station/connecticut/hartford/canton/collinsville/ (more historical train photos)
https://cantonmuseum.org/farmington-valley-railroad-society/ (incredible model train display @ Canton Historical Museum)
Read more about Bob Belletzkie's passion for trains and his lifelong journey to preserve train history: https://www.nhregister.com/news/article/Next-Stop-Tyler-City-Station-11626334.php