History Of The HT&W.
Compiled By Mike D'Amico
Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington Railroad
The Deerfield River Railroad was chartered in Vermont in 1884; on July
4,1885, it celebrated the opening of 3- foot gauge track from Readsboro,
Vermont to a junction with the Fitchburg RR, at the east portal of the
Hoosac Tunnel in northwestern Massachusetts. (The 4.75 mile Hoosac Tunnel
was opened in 1875 and is still in use today by Guilford/PanAm Railways). In
1886, the proprietors of the railroad incorporated the Hoosac Tunnel &
Wilmington Railroad in Massachusetts; it acquired the Massachusetts portion
of the line and leased the Vermont part, with which it was consolidated with
in 1892. By then, the line had been extended north from Readsboro to
Wilmington, VT, another 13 miles. The entire line was converted to standard
gauge in 1913.
The New England Power Company purchased the railroad in 1922 and began
construction of a dam across the Deerfield River that required relocation of
the north end of the line- after an initial proposal by the power company to
substitute a carferry on the lake that the dam would create. The power
company sold the railroad to back to local interests in 1926.
The world's first organized railroad fan trip was on the HT&W. Members of
the Railroad Enthusiasts chartered a train to ride the entire length of the
line on Sunday, August 26, 1934. They were the first passengers on the line
since floods ended passenger service in 1927.
After more floods in early 1936, the railroad was sold to the H.E. Salzberg
Company, a scrap firm that specialized in the dismantling of railroad lines.
However, ownership soon passed to Salzberg's brother-in-law, Samuel M.
Pinsly (1899-1977). He abandoned the line north of Readsboro, but thought
the remainder could be operated profitably. A hurricane did substantial
damage to the HT&W in September, 1938, but Pinsly rebuilt the line. In 1941,
the Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington made its first profit in 15 years, and it
continued to be a profit maker. Pinsly dieselized the line in 1949.
Business fell off in the mid-1950s, and profits turned to deficits. In the
late 1950s, the HT&W received a new customer in the form of a nuclear power
plant in Monroe Bridge, MA. HT&W hauled in much of the material needed for
construction of the plant. Another power plant, the Bear Swamp Project,
would have required extensive relocation of the Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington
and resulted instead in abandonment on October 13, 1971.
Location of Headquarters: Readsboro, Vermont
Miles of Road Operated: 1929- 24; 1971- 11
Number of Locomotives: 1929- 3; 1971- 2
Number of Passenger Cars: 1929- 5
Number of Freight Cars: 1929- 25; 1971- 4
Reporting Marks: HT&W Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington Railroad
# Type H.P Builder B/D Notes,Dispositions etc.
15 44T 380 GE 1943 D&RGW 43,S&S 15,HTW 15,C&C 15,
RyI ? (4001?)
16 44T 380 GE 1942 D&RGW 39, S&E 14:1, HTW 16
18 44T 380 GE 1940 B&M 112, HTW 18 (11/60), to C&C 18:2
23 44T 380 GE 1946 S&S 11,C&C 11,M&B 23, HTW 23,
SBK 13 (11/60)
Key to Abbreviations:
D&RGW- Denver & Rio Grande Western
S&S- Saratoga & Schuylerville
C&C- Claremont & Concord
RyI- Raymond International Corp.
S&E- Sanford & Eastern
B&M- Boston & Maine
M&B- Montpelier & Barre
SBK- South Brooklyn Railway
HTW- Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington
Samuel M. Pinsly
Samuel M. Pinsly (1899-1977) was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and
attended Northeastern University in Boston, where he received degrees in
engineering and law. He served in the U.S. Army during World War I, then
worked in the automobile business. In 1923, he married Jessie Salzberg,
daughter of H.E. Salzberg, and six years later joined Salzberg's company,
which dealt in used railroad equipment. Salzberg bought the Hoosac Tunnel &
Wilmington Railroad in 1936 and sold it in 1938 to Pinsly, who brought it to
profitability. He eventually gathered together several shortline railroads
composed of branches of other rail carriers in the middle part of the
twentieth century. His empire included:
Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington- (Hoosac Tunnel, MA- Wilmington, VT, 24 miles)-
Purchased 1938, abandoned between Wilmington and Readsboro, VT later that
year. The remaining 12 miles of the line was abandoned October 13,1971.
Saratoga & Schuylerville- (Mechanicville to Saratoga Springs and
Schuylerville, NY, 12 miles)- Purchased 1945, abandoned 1956. Ex- Boston &
Sanford & Eastern- (Rochester, NH- Westbrook, ME, 48 miles)- Purchased
1949, abandoned 1961. Ex- Boston & Maine.
Montpelier & Barre- (Montpelier Jct.- Graniteville, VT, 14 miles)-
Purchased 1957, abandoned 1980, now operated as the Washington County RR.
Ex-Barre & Chelsea and Central Vermont.
Claremont & Concord- (Claremont Jct.- Concord, NH, 55 miles)- Purchased
1954, abandoned between Concord and Claremont Jct. in pieces from 1961-1977.
Still in operation between Claremont Jct. and Claremont, NH, 4 miles. Sold
in 1988 to an online lumber dealer and renamed Claremont- Concord RR. Ex-
Boston & Maine.
Suncook Valley- (Concord- Pittsfield, NH, 25 miles)- Purchased in October,
1952, and abandoned in December, 1952. (It was the shortest-lived of all of
the Pinsly lines.)
St. Johnsbury & Lamoille County- (St.Johnsbury- Swanton, VT, 98 miles)-
Purchased 1967, abandoned 1973, resumed operation in 1974 as the Lamoille
County RR. In operation today as Lamoille Valley Railroad. Before 1948, this
line was known as the St. Johnsbury & Lake Champlain RR.
Frankfort & Cincinnati- (Frankfort- Paris, KY, 41 miles)-Purchased 1961. By
1980, this line was reduced to Frankfort to Stagg and Elsinor, KY, 7 miles.
Abandoned in November 1985. The Louisville & Nashville acquired
the majority of stock in the company and had planned to upgrade the line,
but this never happened and the F&C was returned to local ownership until
sold to Pinsly.
Greenville & Northern- (Greenville- Travelers Rest, SC, 10 miles)-
Purchased 1957, still in operation.
Appropriately enough, Pinsly's headquarters for many years was located in
Boston & Maine's general office building in Boston. In 1956, Pinsly
attempted to purchase the New York Ontario & Western, and in 1958, he
proposed to purchase the Old Colony lines of the New Haven to operate them
for freight service. Neither project came to fruition. Pinsly was active in
the American Shortline Railroad Association, several regional railroad
associations, and numerous civic organizations.
After his death in 1977, the Pinsly organization continued in business. It
sold off most of its "original lines" and acquired several new rail lines,
mostly outside of New England. The newest additions to the Pinsly family
Pioneer Valley- (Westfied- Holyoke, MA, Westfield- Easthampton, MA, 27
miles)-Purchased July, 1982, still in operation. Ex-Conrail, nee- Penn
Central, nee-New Haven.
Florida Midland- (Wildwood-Leesburg, FL, West Lake Wales- Frostproof, FL,
Winter Haven- Gordonsville, FL, 35 miles)- Purchased 1987, still in
operation. Ex- CSX Transportation, nee-Seaboard System, nee Seaboard Coast
Line, nee-Atlantic Coast Line.
Florida Central- (Orlando-Umatilla, FL, Winter Garden- Forest City, FL, 69
miles)-Purchased 1986, still in operation. Ex- CSX Transportation, nee-SBD,
nee- SCL, nee-Atlantic Coast Line.
Florida Northern- (Candler- Lowell, FL, 27 miles)- Purchased November, 1988,
still in operation. Ex-CSX, nee-SBD, nee-SCL, nee-ACL.
Arkansas Midland- (Haskells-Hot Springs, AR, Gurdon- El Dorado, AR, Little
Rock- Carlisle, AR, Lexa- Helena, AR, 130 miles)- Purchased 1991, still in
operation. Ex-Union Pacific, nee-Missouri Pacific. (The Carlisle line was
part of the Rock Island until 1980, when it was taken over by MP.)