Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Getting Here
Fire & Police


In General

Springfield is conveniently located along I91, between Boston and Albany, and not too far north of Hartford and New Haven CT.

The area has a few things to attract railfans, the station in Springfield, a few neat bridges, the interlocking under I91, Pioneer Valley RR to the west in Westfield (the only town I have ever seen a sign with an arrow pointing to the rail yard!), a few semaphores on the PVRR (if still there, I saw them last in 2000-2001), and CSX freights coming thru at speed.

The Amtrak 40th birthday / anniversary train visited town on July 9th and 10th, 2011.  I don't have any pictures from Springfield (donations gladly accepted), but my page for the train is here.

For streetcar fans, you have two museums fairly close, one just to the north of Hartford in East Windsor - the Connecticut Trolley Museum.  It's at exit 45 off of I-91 and then east.  The other one is down in New Haven, the Shore Line Trolley Museum, more info here.


For more pictures, check out these pages:


Getting Here

Springfield is near the junction of interstates I-91 (N/S) and I-90 (E/W).

I-90 from the west brings you in from up-state New York, Albany, and from the east, Boston.

I-90 comes up from New Haven to the south, using I-95 as a feeder, and to the north, you'll hit I-89 which comes down from Burlington VT.

Coming from Montreal?  Looks like 15 south to I-87 thru Albany, and then I-90 east.

Anywhere else along the eastern seaboard, take I-95 north to New Haven, and hang a left there to catch I-91 :-)



     1          The Amtrak Station

GPS Coordinates: 42.105819, -72.593248

Among railroad stations, the Springfield station is fairly unique in that it is perched above road level of the town, as seen in the accompanying photo.  Springfield Union Station is the fifth busiest Amtrak station in Massachusetts.  It is currently (APR2015) undergoing a restoration.  When the renovation is complete the property will be known as the Union Station Regional Intermodal Transportation Center.

Union Station is situated on a grade elevated plot of land one block wide and approximately four blocks long. The main passenger entrance was on the north side of the station and located east to the former express freight facility. The eight former station tracks were accessed via an underground concourse that utilized stairs and elevators to connect to the platforms. The former elevator headhouses remain an important visual element to the station as they have been adorned with large Amtrak logos.

Today the station consists of six tracks; tracks 1, 2 and 2a serve CSX's Boston Line and tracks 4, 6 and 8 serve the Amtrak's New Haven–Springfield Line.  Amtrak trackage is independent from CSX. Amtrak tracks connects with Boston Line track 2A via dispatcher controlled switches at either end of the track.  Each of the low level platforms retain the stairs and elevators which connect to the now closed concourse/street level.  The current Amtrak station building is at track level adjacent to Track 8 and trains are reached by crossing the tracks at designated walkways.  West of the station platforms the Amtrak New Haven-Springfield line immediately curves to the south while the CSX Boston Line continues on to cross the Connecticut River on a twin truss bridge. (from WIkipedia)

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Springfield_Union_Station_(Massachusetts) for more info.

  "Amt SPG 9640+Amtrak-Stand" by Sturmovik at en.wikipedia.

     2          The CSX West Springfield Yard

     3          Peter Pan Bus Lines

GPS Coordinates: 42.104852, -72.596070

Peter Pan Bus Lines has a history going back to something like 1933, and was named for the founder's favorite story as a kid.  They have kept expanding over the years and are one of the largest regional bus lines in the U.S.   On April 4th, 1969, they opened their terminal at 1776 Main St, becoming the first such terminal in the U.S.  In 1985, they bought Trailways New England.  In 1990, they expanded with a route to Washington D.C, and now have stops in Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City.  In 2003 they acquired Coach USA, and doubled the size of their fleet to over 300 busses.  In 2007, they started a joint venture with Greyhound called Bolt Bus. 

More info at: http://www.peterpanbus.com/about-peter-pan/company-history/
Website at: http://peterpanbus.com/

All of the pictures below were found at Google Images, including the first one which is my own shot at the Travel Plaza in Baltimore.



The screen captures below are from Google's StreetView....

     4          CSX MOW Yard

GPS Coordinates: 42.102181, -72.595399

     5          The CSX Bridge

  This view is from I-91 and Google Streetview

  Picture courtesy Jersey Mike


     6          SPRING Tower

GPS Coordinates: 42.103507, -72.596674

Hidden underneath I-91 at the diamond is the former Spring Tower.  The following information comes from here:

Question: On the northeast corner of East Columbus Avenue and Gridiron streets in Springfield, there is a graffiti-laden building under the Interstate 291 connector.  Who built it, maintains it and what’s it used for?

Answer: This mysterious-looking little building squats in a kind of no-man’s land, deep in the shadows of Interstate 91.

The building was once used as a railroad control tower to control east-west and north-south train traffic coming through the city.  Robert A. Lingane of West Haven, Conn., a railroad historian and former Conrail employee, said the building is no longer in use as a control tower although it was still performing that function in 1990 when he retired.

“I am surprised it hasn’t been torn down,” Lingane said, adding that the railroad control functions that it once performed are now computerized and performed out of Boston.

“It used to be manned,” said City Assessor Stephen P. O’Malley.  “A guy would sit at the top of the tower and pull levers to move the switches to move the tracks.”

Springfield historian Frances M. Gagnon said she believes the building was built in the 1870s, about the same time that the city’s first railroad station was built at Main Street and Gridiron Street, which was known then as Railroad Row.

O’Malley said the structure is owned by Amtrak, which as a railroad is exempt from taxation per federal law.  An Amtrak spokesman in the New York office had no knowledge of the building. An Amtrak employee at Union Station in Springfield, who declined to give his name, said the building is used for storage.

O’Malley theorized that the building remains standing because it stands so close to active rail lines and that it would be difficult to demolish.

Sgt. John M. Delaney, aide to Police Commissioner William J. Fitchet, said the building, although covered with graffiti, has not posed any particular problems with law enforcement.


The B&W on the left was found here, picture by Tom Hildreth.

     7          West Springfield Depot

GPS Coordinates: 42.101099, -72.636029
38 Front St, West Springfield MA 01089

The depot is off of my map above to the left

Picture courtesy Jersey Mike



The last time I was in Springfield was in the 2000-2001 timeframe, and I had very little time to take pictures - and the ones I did get are all slides filed away under piles of electronic paraphernalia in my basement.  But in looking at what can be seen from Google's Streetview, it looks like a combination of newer colorlight signals, and older searchlight signals used around the interlocking at the wye.  I will have to wait until someone can send me some good pictures or I get back there myself.  In the picture above of the CSX bridge from I-91, it looks as if there might be a couple of dwarf searchlights on the approach to the junction under the interstate, and then, maybe not. 

    1      WB Colorlights

This view is from US 5 as you go under the railroad bridge on the west shore of the river.  The signal is for traffic coming from Springfield into the West Springfield yard.
The real picture below is courtesy Jersey Mike, and was taken before they replaced the "tri-light" signals with "darth vaders".


What does it Mean?

In the above photo, there is an extra signal head showing.  What does it mean, what is it for?

Per CSX rules, the signal will display:

1) a "C" on top with a white light under it. Rule CR 1280A Clear to Next Interlocking


2) a "N" on top with a white light under it. Rule CR 1280B Approach Normal
These appear at interlockings and are used by the dispatcher to keep trains moving when the signal system (cab signals between interlocking) is not operating, or the lead locomotive has had an en route cab signal failure.  The signal is called "Clear to Next Interlocking".  On some of the Boston Sub, trains are governed by cab signals only, with wayside signals only at interlockings and controlled points.  NORAC Rule 562 or its CSXT equivalent apply.  If a train has a problem with its cab signals the dispatcher can light up the unit below the "C" sign, and the train has the railroad to the next signal.

Here is one on the Northeast Corridor in Secaucus NJ:

Thanks to Frank L., William L., Fran G., and Len G. for helping out with the answer on this one, they are all on the Yahoo Railway Signaling group.

    2      Searchlight

This signal is for traffic coming from the station, and hookin a right turn to go up the east side of the river (a guess, seeing I can't see the track :-).

    3      West Springfield - EB Bridge Approach

 Picture courtesy Jersey Mike


    4      Amtrak Union Station - West Side

  Picture courtesy Jersey Mike

Other Signal Pictures from Around

Thanks to Jersey Mike for letting me use his pictures!

  The west end of the West Springfield Yard


      3 from CP160

Fire and Police

Springfield Police Station

West Springfield Police Station

The police department is housed in the Municipal Office Building at 22 Central St.

West Springfield Fire Station


This aerial shot from Bing shows how close the two public services are to each other

Historical USGS Map

I found this map and many others at http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/topo/connecticut/


New Union Station

Springfield's grand Union Station was constructed in 1926 by the Boston & Albany Railroad to replace a smaller Union Station, which had been adorned in unique Egyptian-style architecture. Springfield is exactly equidistant to both Boston and Albany—89 miles (143 km.).  The New York, New Haven & Hartford (aka, the New Haven) and Boston & Maine railroads also utilized the station.

US 5 Interchanges

The two US 5 interchanges in West Springfield deserve a special note, because if you are not familiar with them, you could wind up going somewhere you did not intend to.  US 5 is a thru road, while it has exit ramps for the local roads.

Wye and Crossing under I91

There is a nice pedestrian overpass put in just for us railfans to get shots of trains crossing the Connecticut River.  :-)



I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


web statistics

NEW 6-14-2011
Last Modified 03-May-2015