The best kept secret in Orange
ORANGE - Hidden in the basement of the old Academy building across the street from the green in is a model train club. Not just any ordinary train club, but one that has modeled the railroad that traveled from New Haven, through Orange, making its way to Derby and Ansonia. Did you know that a railroad ran through Orange? Most people do not. It may be gone, but it is certainly not forgotten.
The New Haven & Derby Railroad Club has been in its present location for more than 17 years.
Comprised of some 23 members, the club relies on its member’s love of trains and their skill in model building, combined with the enjoyment of researching history.
Using photos and historical information, the club has modeled the route of this long gone railroad from its starting point in New Haven and the Long Wharf area, traveling through West Haven and Orange, finally making its way to Derby and Ansonia.
Furthermore, the club has followed the Maybrook main line through Danbury, Beacon N.Y. and to the Maybrook N.Y. yards where many other railroads met to transfer goods.
People who have visited the club over the years, especially during the recent Orange Country Fair this year, remarked that they now recognize parts of the remnants of the railroad around town.
The most visible is the stone bridge abutment on Derby-Milford Road, and the one just north of the gas station on the southbound side of the parkway in Orange. You also may have noticed a railroad crossing sign on Route 152 (Orange Center Road) by the shopping center. This sign indicates the location where the tracks crossed Route152.
The shopping center was built on the site where the Orange train station once stood. Hidden in the woods, there is a rock cut near Lambert Road where railroad ties remain, as well as a culvert under the right of way that can be seen on the east side of Lambert Road, north of the power lines. Did you know there is a tunnel under the Post Road in West Haven? Railroad history abounds in Orange.
If you’re interested in model railroading, the club meets on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 7:30 p.m. If you would just like to visit, the club it will be open during the tree lighting ceremony on the green in December. Bring the kids!!
Joel Mandell is president of The New Haven & Derby Railroad Club