Making The Grade

The recent grade-crossing train wreck in Westchester, plus heroic actions by a police officer preventing a similar accident in Norwalk a few days later, jogged what alert “06880” reader/1970 Staples graduate Scott Brodie calls “a dim memory.”

Long ago, he thinks, he heard that Westport was spared the same hazard by “thoughtful negotiators who represented the town” when the New Haven Railroad was first built, in the 19th century.

“They granted permission for the right-of-way through Westport, on the condition that there be no grade crossings,” Scott says — er, thinks.

True? A (sub)urban myth?

I’d never heard the story. But this is a great question for our “06880” readers. If you know about this — or anything else regarding the early days of Westport’s railroads — click “Comments” below.

South Compo Road crosses underneath the railroad. It floods often -- but that's a subject for another post. (Photo/Google Maps)

South Compo Road crosses under the railroad. It floods often, and trucks regularly get stuck — but those are subjects for other posts. (Photo/Google Maps)


8 responses to “Making The Grade

  1. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    When I walked to school (to Saugatuck Elementary from Narrow Rocks Road) I had to walk under the railroad tracks at that overpass at South Compo Rd. It was terrifying if I got caught underneath when a train was going overhead. I used to wait, .listen and then RUN under the tracks to the other side in hopes that I would make it before a train came.

  2. Peter Prigge

    If memory of WSPT and railroad history is correct, the railroads already had right of ways throught WSPT and all other towns at grade level. Inorder to improve performance, speed etc it was decided to elevate the entire system above grade level. I would have too double check but this may have been the period they were electrifying the whole system.

  3. Jack Whittle

    There are no grade crossings on the main New Haven line of Metro North, in any town, from GCT to New Haven – it would not appear that Westport received (upon demand or otherwise) any special treatment. The only grade crossings in the New Haven line system are found on the spur lines; if your CT town doesn’t have a spur line running through it, you won’t have any grade crossings – Greenwich is spared, as is Fairfield and Bridgeport. And Westport.

  4. Yes, Westport said no street level access to/through town to NY NH Hartford Railroad, and the Feds I 95 plan, holding it up for years. Thanks for the foresight town fathers and mothers…

  5. Speaking of foresight, lets not let ourselves get talked out of the nice brownstone trimmed granite abutments used in these overpasses like Bridgeport just was. Nothing says “yuck” like cast-in-place fake stone.

  6. where is Montgomery”s Store ? anyone remember Mr. Montgomery and
    his delicious potato salad ?

    • If you’re talking about Kenny Montgomery’s original store on South Compo and Green’s Farms where I-95 is, it was relocated to Old Mill Bill, at the foot of Compo Hill Road. It’s now called Elvira’s, and is a beloved neighborhood institution.

  7. David E Pettee

    The New Haven Line originally had street level crossings.

    An 1870’s photo in “Connecticut Railroads … An Illustrated History” of South Norwalk station shows someone crossing New Haven Line Railroad Tracks at street level.

    (Several of the buildings in the backdrop of the photo are still standing in
    present day SoNo.)

    In this 1870’s photo of SoNo, all of the trains are at street level.

    The New Haven Line was electrified and raised above street level during the 1920’s. During this time, it’s possible that Westport eliminated street level crossing.