Scenic Train Rides in Connecticut

The Railroad Nation

Locations
Danbury East Haven East Windsor Essex Kent South Norwalk Thomaston Willimantic

Experience everything from fine dining,  a steam engine cab ride and a riverboat ride on the Valley Railroad Essex Steam Train. Themed train rides and cab rides are also available at the Danbury Railway Museum. The Naugatuck Railroad has several themed train rides along the scenic Naugatuck River.
Catch a ride a 3 mile round trip trolley ride along the scenic shore the Shore Line Trolley Museum.
Did you know?
The first railroad in Connecticut was the Hartford & New Haven Railroad built in 1838 between Meriden and New Haven. The H&NH was consolidated into the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad in 1872. Today, this right away is the southern end of Amtrak's Springfield Line. Most of the former New Haven Railroad trackage that remains in service today is operated by a dozen freight, passenger and tourist lines. With just under 600 total miles of trackage, including Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, historic rail stations can be found at New Haven (1920) and New London (1885).
More than a dozen steam locomotives are listed in Connecticut today. The 2-6-0 Boston & Maine No. 1455 is on display at the Danbury Railway Museum. The New Haven 2-8-2 No.3025 runs scenic excursions on the Valley Railroad along with another 2-8-2 steam locomotive, the Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad No. 40.

 


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Photo courtesy of Michael Biehn

Danbury

Danbury Railway Museum

The Danbury Railway's museum uses a 1903 station to house and display 50 pieces of railroad equipment, representing 11 different railroads and a model train display. Twenty minute vintage train rides in the yard go to the only operating turntable in Connecticut. Engine cab rides are also available. Train rides run on weekends April - November. Themed train rides include Mother's Day Rides, Pumpkin Patch and a Santa's Special Train Ride. Directions

East Haven

Shore Line Trolley Museum

The Shore Line Trolley Museum operates a three mile round trip trolley ride along the scenic shore over the last remaining portions of the Bradford Electric Railway. The railway is the oldest continuously operating suburban trolley line in the United States. Museum's collection includes over 100 vintage vehicles. Trolley has several theme trolley rides and the museum is open from April through December.Directions.

East Windsor

Connecticut Trolley Museum


The Connecticut Trolley Museum was founded in 1940 and offers a narrated three mile round trip trolley ride. Museum collection includes passenger cars, freight streetcars, elevated railway cars and other rail equipment. Over 70 pieces of rolling stock , some dating back to 1869, are housed within five storage barns.Directions.

Essex

Essex Steam Train & Riverboat

This unusual combination of a train ride and riverboat ride is run by the Valley Railroad Company. The Essex Steam Train ride is a 12 mile round trip train ride from Essex to Deep River that lasts about an hour, while the rail-riverboat tour lasts more than 2 hours. Special event train rides include a Day out with Thomas, a North Pole Express and a Santa Special. Dinner/Murder Mystery train rides include a four course meal along with your 2 and a half hour train ride in lavishly restored vintage 1920's Pullman cars. You can also operate a steam locomotives under the direct and constant supervision of experienced crew on an approximately one hour trip over the Valley Railroad. The railroad uses two Alco steam locomotives, No.97, a 1923 2-8-0 and No.40, a 1920 2-8-2. Directions

Kent

Connecticut Antique Machinery Association

The Connecticut Antique Machinery Association features an operating three-foot narrow gauge railroad with power provided by a 1925 Baldwin locomotive that was used in the sugar cane field of Hawaii. Exhibits include a variety of locomotives and rolling stock.

South Norwalk

SoNo Switch Tower Museum

The SoNo Switch Tower is a completely restored 1896 New Haven Railroad switch tower. Museum is operates Saturdays and Sundays May through October. The Museum is contained in former New York, New Haven and Hartford Signal Station 44 in South Norwalk, Connecticut. Located at 77 Washington Street, the Tower is open to the public, with interpretive displays and narration about signaling and train control.

Thomaston

Naugatuck Railroad

The Naugatuck Railroad runs over a 20 miles of former New Haven Railroad, originally built in 1849. The scenic 20-mile round trip ride aboard vintage 1920's coaches and lasts one hour and 15 minutes. Part of the Railroad Museum of New England, the train travels along the banks of the scenic Naugatuck River. All scenic train rides depart from the historic 1881 Victorian Thomaston Station that is currently undergoing an extensive restoration to its mid-1950’s appearance. Themed train rides include Easter Bunny Express, a Santa Express Train and a Day out with Thomas. Directions

Willimantic

Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum

The Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum is located off Bridge Street in downtown Willimantic, Connecticut, on the original site of the Columbia Junction Freight Yard. The museum's collection includes locomotives and rolling stock, as well as vintage railroad buildings and a six-stall roundhouse reconstructed on the original foundation. Open weekends May through October.