Plaque sponsored by the Norwich and Worcester Railroad located on Railroad Avenue
With four daily passenger and freight connections each way to Worcester, Norwich became a major transportation center with steamboat shipping to New York City through Long Island Sound. In fact the preferred Boston to New York route was via the Norwich and Worcester Railroad through Norwich!
Until the Thames River was bridged in 1889, Chelsea Harbor had full warehouse and passenger terminals with its favorable access to central New England. There was also a large steam engine and car manufacturing factory on North Main Street that supplied rolling stock to all U.S. railroads.
While the Norwich and Worcester Railroad operated on 59 miles of track ending along the east bank of the Thames River, eventually extending to Groton, a second railroad called New London, Willimantic, and Palmer (Massachusetts) operated along the west bank with a station on Hollyhock Island. That company became New London Northern and then Central Vermont Railroad. A connector track laid in 1854 along Chelsea Harbor joined the Norwich and Worcester Railroad with this second railroad.
In addition to the trains, electric trolley cars also used the tracks between 1880 to 1924 with eight trips daily each way between Norwich and Worcester.
A sill from the Norwich and Worcester Railroad freight house built in 1839 and destroyed by hurricane, September 21, 1938, reads:
OPENED MARCH 9, 1840
LEASED TO BOSTON, HARTFORD, ERIE R.R….1869
LEASED TO NEW YORK, NEW ENGLAND R.R….1886
LEASED TO NEW ENGLAND R.R….1896
LEASED TO N.Y., N.H., H. R.R….1898
CENTENIAL EXERCISES SPONSORED BY THE
NEW LONDON RAILROAD ASSOCIATION