December 31, 1968, is known as the last day of the almost 100 year reign of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad as the predominant railroad system in southern New England. Formed in 1872 from the merger of the New York & New Haven Railroad and the Hartford & New Haven Railroad, the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad, better known as the New Haven Railroad, proceeded to amass virtually every other railroad line in the region. In its time the company had more of its share of trials — train wrecks, hostile takeovers, bankruptcies and scandals — but always endured, if not flourished. In 1961 the company was taken over by a board of trustees who prepared it for its end by abandoning branch lines and selling off much of its property, and on January 1, 1969, what was once a glorious engine of innovation and the driver of the New England’s industrial success in the late 19th and early 20th centuries was added, begrudgingly, to the new Penn Central Company.
Above is a letter written on December 31, 1968, to employees of the New Haven Railroad, thanking them for their service. Below is a letter written January 1, 1969, to those same employees who now answered to Penn Central.
More information about the New Haven Railroad can be found in the finding aid to the company’s corporate records at http://doddcenter.uconn.edu/asc/findaids/NHRR/MSS19910009.html and at the Railroad History Archive site at http://railroads.uconn.edu/