Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tracking Down More Than I Bargained For

South end of the Taft Tunnel in Lisbon, ConnecticutThose of you who are regular readers may remember this past April when I decided to go Tracking the Taft Tunnel in my neighboring town of Lisbon - the town that lays claim to the "first railroad tunnel in America". As I mentioned in my previous post -

"The Lisbon railroad tunnel, which is officially named the Taft Tunnel, was originally built by the Norwich and Worcester Railroad in 1837. There is some debate as to whether or not it's actually the very first railroad tunnel in America but it is most definitely the oldest railroad tunnel in America still in use in its original form as the tunnel and tracks are still used by the Providence and Worcester Railroad."

Ever since that first visit back in April, I'd been wanting to go back out to the tunnel and as yesterday was a beautiful autumn day with no rain in sight for a change, I decided it would be a good time to head back over. I wanted to see if maybe there was some good foliage to be found along the river near the tunnel and figured I didn't have too much more time before all the leaves were on the ground and the only foliage would be of the raking-and-bagging variety!

Taft Tunnel, Lisbon, ConnecticutI parked by the side of Route 12, looked a little nervously at the "No Trespassing" sign, and after only a slight bit of hesitation began the short hike through the woods out to the railroad tracks. Once I got to the tracks I took a left and walked down to the tunnel, keeping an ear out for any approaching trains.

The tunnel looked pretty much like it did when I last saw it in April - which is probably also pretty much like it looked in 1837! The only difference was that there wasn't a lot of standing water at the north end of the tunnel like there was back in April which meant I could walk the 300 feet to the other end and get some pictures there.

With my friend Kevin's words of "you didn't walk all the way through last time because you were scared" ringing in my head - along with what I'm pretty sure was the sound of my heartbeat ringing through my ears - I started through the tunnel while all the time really, really, really hoping that a train wasn't going to pick that time to come down the tracks. Even though the tunnel is 23 feet wide, I didn't relish the thought of pressing myself against the side of the rock wall in abject terror while a train rumbled past.

As I got closer to the north end, the floor of the tunnel got mushier and some of the railroad ties were loose beneath my feet but I made it all the way through to the other side just in time to hear a rumbling that I knew was not coming from the river.

Oh good Lord, a train was coming! I quickly found a small area less than ten feet from the tracks that looked like the best place to be out of the way and sat down on a small rock just in time to see Engine 4001 come around the bend.

Providence & Worcester RR EngineNow let me tell you, I like trains and I've taken more than a few pictures of them in the past but sitting less than 10 feet away from one by the side of the tracks is a bit - shall we say - disconcerting. If I'd thought my heart was beating in my ears earlier, that was nothing compared to the noise I was hearing now! Luckily I remembered to take a couple of pictures of the train entering the tunnel though I wasn't sure how well they were going to turn out as I felt like I was shaking so bad!

Providence & Worcester Engine enters the Taft Tunnel in Lisbon, Connecticut
Finally the end of the train came into view - another engine moving backwards rather than a caboose as I guess trains just don't do cabooses anymore - or at least the Providence & Worcester trains don't seem to.

Providence & Worcester EngineAfter the engine disappeared through the tunnel and the ground stopped shaking and the rumbling faded away, I shakily got to my feet and alternately thanked God many times over that I hadn't still been in the tunnel when the train came through while telling myself I was too old for this sort of thing! Still, I couldn't wait to tell Kevin the story later at work; he's a major railroad fan so I knew he'd appreciate the tale as well as maybe be a little jealous!

After taking a couple pictures of the north entry of the tunnel I began my trek back through to the other side a lot more relaxed than I was when I went through the first time as I was quite confident that another train wouldn't be coming through anytime soon. I didn't linger too long, though, just in case one of the engineers had spotted me by the side of the tracks and decided to call in some form of law enforcement. I wouldn't have been at all surprised to have come out of the woods and found a State Trooper waiting for me by my car but luckily that wasn't the case - whew!

As I sat in the car for a few moments before turning towards home, the blogger in me kicked in as I thought "This is going to make a great post! I hope the pictures came out okay!"

All in all, I'd have to say that yesterday's trip to the Taft Tunnel was quite the adventure but I honestly don't think I'm going to be doing that again anytime soon - no matter how pretty the foliage on the north side ended up being! Unless, of course someone else wants to go with me next time!

Fall foliage along the Providence & Worcester railroad tracks in Lisbon, Connecticut


  1. There's nothing like getting up close and personal is there? LOL

  2. Way kewl and pretty pics too

  3. That was a nice description with feeling and great pctures

  4. Anonymous8:03 AM EDT

    all for the sake of the blog.... LOL!
    Those are super cool pictures! Can't wait to show them to hubby. He's a big train fan!!!! You should submit them and the story to a train magazine! Seriously!

  5. Duchess Linda,
    This is a wonderful post! Lois is right, you should submit this to a train magazine.

    I was right there with you with the ground rumbling and the train approaching and the feeling of scariness and all.

    The photos are great. I like the one with Engine 4001 coming right at us.
    If I were you I'd still be shaking today.

  6. I've been there. But you were lucky to have a train come through that day. Now in the last picture, if you continue down along side the tracks (along the river) you will come across a small man made damn. It's an interesting area to hike.

  7. Looks like you timed your walk through the tunnel just right. Yep, I'd not like to be caught in there with a train either.

    Have a terrific day Linda. Big hug. :)

  8. Great pictures! And an amazing story to go with it. You are definitely braver than I am these days. But adventurers always have the best stories, and pictures! You go girl!

  9. wow that was exciting! i think i would have had to change my underwear though! ha ha ha

    smiles, bee

  10. How exciting!! You are a true pioneer, Linda.

  11. Linda, you ought to be grounded - but you do have a D60, so I guess not. I am thinking like the cartoon where, say. Wile-E-Coyote chases the roadrunner into the train tunnel and too late finds the freight train in his path...The tunnel was built in an era when it had to be carved out by hand. The railroad is like many short freight lines, we don't pay attention to the freight that has to be moved. A stunning capture, but please take more care in the dangerous world of photo art...

  12. Good Grief girl, are you trying to turn yourself into one of those ghost we were hunting a few weeks ago! I am glad that train didn't get any closer. I bet you were shaking. I know I would have been.
    The photos are awesome though! You did good.

  13. I love all of these photos, but especially the last one with just the tracks. I'm so envious that you can capture things like this and have them look amazing.

  14. Wonderful post though it did bring back a few close encounters of the train kind. I'm glad you emerged safe and sound with some great pictures.

  15. girl don't you know it's DANGEROUS to walk on the tracks??!!! Haven't you SEEN Fried Green Tomatoes??!!!!

    My Grandaddy, the UP switchman for 40 years, would spank you good for that stunt!!

    and no, cabooses held the brakeman and conductor etc for the train...FRED took over and now cabooses are no longer needed....sigh


  16. I'll go with you next time!!! hehe I've walked through train tunnels myself, hoping no train comes in. lol No doubt you were VERY happy that the train didn't come while you were still in the tunnel, that would have been pretty scary indeed. A little TOO close for comfort. Love all the pictures you took, though...what we do for our blog! lol xoxo

  17. That engine looks too darned big to make it through that tunnel. I'm sure it's an illusion, but boy! That looks tight.
    I would love to go on a walk-about with you! I'd just have to remember to take a change of clothes...

  18. Anonymous11:19 PM EDT

    MamaGeek calls that an art attack...when you're so focused on getting the perfect shot that you're nearly scared to DEATH!!

    great shots!

  19. Holy Crackers! That was a close call! You got some great pictures, though, so it was worth it. LOL!

  20. Thank you for the great pictures of Taft Tunnel. I am a model railroader and plan on making a module of the tunnel for my layout. I will definitely be taking a stroll out to Lisbon to see it in person. Thanks!

  21. Wow! Awesome! Wonderful story with fabulous pictures of a beautiful place and so close to home. I have been through the tunnel via foliage train ride up to Putnam and it is a great ride. Great storytelling too. You are a true talent in more ways than one. Thank you.


Thanks for visiting!