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NEW YORK, NEW HAVEN AND HARTFORD RAILROAD COMPANY

The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad was commonly known as the New Haven Railroad. The line was a railroad that operated in New England from 1872 to 1968, and dominated rail traffic in the region after 1900.

New York's banker, J. P. Morgan, had grown up in Hartford and had a strong interest in the New England economy. In the 1890's Morgan began financing the major New England railroads, and dividing territory so they would not compete.

In 1903, Morgan brought in Charles Mellen as president from 1903-1913. The goal supported by Morgan's financing, was to purchase and consolidate the main railway lines of New England, merge their operations, lower their costs, electrify the heavily used routes, and modernize the system. With less competition and lower costs, there supposedly would be higher profits.

The New Haven purchased fifty smaller companies, including steamship lines, and built a network of light rails (electrified trolleys) that provided inter-urban transportation for all of southern New England. By 1912, the New Haven operated over 2,000 miles of track, with 120,000 employees, and practically monopolized traffic in a wide swath from Boston to New York City.

Morgan’s quest for monopoly angered reformers during the Progressive Era, most notably Boston lawyer Louis Brandeis, who fought the New Haven for years. Mellen’s abrasive tactics alienated public opinion, led to high prices for acquisitions and to costly construction. The accident rate rose when efforts were made to save on maintenance costs. Debt soared from $14 million in 1903 to $242 million in 1913.

Also in 1913, the company faced an anti-trust lawsuit by the federal government and was forced to surrender its trolley systems. The advent of automobiles, trucks and buses after 1910, slashed the profits of the New Haven. The line went bankrupt in 1935, was reorganized and reduced in scope.

The company went bankrupt again in 1961, and in 1969. It was merged into the Penn Central system, which itself went bankrupt. The remnants of the system now make up Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line, Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, Shore Line East, and CSX.

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