Monroe’s Rails Trails Tour

On Saturday, May 31 the Monroe Historical Society is offering a look back to the Golden Age of Railroading for its annual spring glimpse into the past and is offering the newly revamped Rails Trails Tour.

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The Rails Trails Tour covers the sites of four old wooden railway stations once vital to the rhythm of life in Monroe-Stepney and Stevenson Depots, and will also include Pepper Crossing and a stop off at Hammertown Road, known simply as Monroe Station.

Participants will board a motorcoach that will depart from the Monroe Senior Center on 235 Cutler’s Farm Rd. in Monroe at 10 a.m. Box lunches will be for sale as there is a noon stopover for lunch in Wolfe Park. There is also a ten-minute screening of the Great Train Robbery produced by Thomas Edison Studios in 1903 that will be shown before the motor coach departs and after it returns. This is the first commercially viable movie with sequential scenes.

The tour will include two morning stops and two stops in the afternoon and the motorcoach will head out rain or shine. Due to safety considerations, no private automobiles, motorcycles or bicycles are permitted on the tour. A special highlight of each tour will be the illustrated presentations at each site by railway historians: John Babina, Bob Belletzkie and Monroe’s town historian, Ed Coffey.

Displays will show how the steam engine was the lifeline for distributing farm products that drove the Monroe economy in the 1840s. At this time, the rail lines were the primary link to the outside world with its jobs and high schools in Bridgeport. The rail line also gave Monroe’s merchants access to goods and brought the farmers supplies like seed, fertilizer, feed and agricultural machinery.

With the advent of the automobile, by the 1930s passenger service was virtually discontinued. At the same time trucks became a more dedicated alternative for transporting the needs of business although limited use of the tracks for commerce continued until recent years.

The cost of the Rails Trails Tour is $10 for members, $15 for non-members, discounted to $5 for seniors and students. Tickets are available at the Monroe Senior Center and the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library. Space is limited. Additional information is available from Marven Moss at mmoss36@yahoo.com

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