Cheney Rail Trail


Cheney Rail Trail Facts

States: Connecticut
Counties: Hartford
Length: 1 miles
Trail end points: #2 Main Street (by the tracks) and Middle Turnpike West
Trail surfaces: Crushed Stone
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6466823
Trail activites: Bike, Walking

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Cheney Rail Trail Description

The Cheney Rail Trail follows part of the corridor of the South Manchester Railroad, built by the Cheney brothers in 1869. The line was a 2.5-mile spur from the main Hartford, Providence, and Fishkill Railroad and it went to the Cheney silk mills, transporting passengers, silk goods and raw materials. This historic railroad was known as the longest privately owned passenger-and-freight railroad, as well as one of the shortest in America.

The Manchester Land Conservation Trust (MLCT) owns about 5.7 acres of the rail bed (1 linear mile). The trail is mostly shaded and a pleasant walk any time of the year. The terrain is fairly flat with a processed stone path, a small section of stairs (at Middle Turnpike W.) have been replaced with a ramp that was built at a 10% grade. There are two street crossings with painted cross walks and signage indicating a trail crossing.

MLCT leads a few walks each year with commentary on the history of the railroad and the silk mills. Truman Cowles Parklet has a small parking area, picnic table and kiosk.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking is available behind 2 Main Street (right by the old tracks) on the north end of Manchester. You can also park at the nearby strip mall or at the Eight District offices parking lot.

Cheney Rail Trail Reviews

The trail was easy to walk, some places were better maintained with crushed stone than others. The trail is mixed among forest of large trees to areas beside residential and commercial properties. The north side of the trail was more interesting historically. On this stretch were exposed rail tracks, railroad ties, and a granite marker with a W on the side.
This section of trail and tracks led to the existing railroad tracks. Historically this is an interesting trail. According to the posted sign less than 100 years ago this rail line transported workers back and forth to the silk mill. In 1923 3500 passengers were transported daily. There is a good size parking lot at the trail's entry. Be aware of the poison ivy along the sides of the trail!

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