June 20: End of the Line for the Naugatuck Valley Trolley


The morning of June 20th, 1937 was the first of a new era of public transportation in Connecticut’s Naugatuck Valley.  After nearly 50 years of uninterrupted trolley service between Ansonia and Derby, the last electric trolley had finished its final run shortly after midnight, replaced by public bus transportation.

This postcard from 1909 prominently features the tracks of the Ansonia-Derby trolley line in the middle of Elizabeth Street.

The electrically-powered trolley line that ran between Ansonia and Derby had been the first of its kind in New England, introduced to great fanfare in 1888.  During the trolley’s inaugural run, crowds lined the streets and children lit firecrackers to mark the occasion.  The Evening Sentinel, a local newspaper, opined that “it was an unusual circumstance to start the electric road in this age of steam. But [the] inhabitants of Derby made up their minds that they should give electricity a chance.”  The locomotive used in the 1888 journey is considered to be one of the oldest commercially-operated electric locomotives in the world, and has been fully restored to operable condition at Connecticut’s Shoreline Trolley Museum, located in East Haven.  Forty-nine years after its debut, the iconic trolley line reached the end of the line — on this day in Connecticut history.

Further Reading

Account of the First Trolley Run in 1888, Derby Historical Society

Trolley Towns of Connecticut,” The Shoreline Trolley Museum