Naugatuck clean up pilot a great success

Bob Eberheim, a volunteer and board member with the RMNE, supervises the dumping of tires removed from the Frost Bridge area in Thomaston and Watertown before they were to be recycled.
March 15, 2016

Volunteers from the Railroad Museum Of New England (RMNE), the Naugatuck River Revival Group (NRRG), O&G Industries, and the Boy Scouts completely exceeded all expectations on Saturday by removing enough tires to fill two 30 yard dumpsters from an area less than 3 miles long between the Naugatuck River and CT Route 8 in Thomaston and Watertown. More than 20 people devoted their Saturday to clean up the environment and pull tires both big and small.

Volunteers rode the train to Jericho Bridge. There they pulled the tires from the riverbank and brush and rolled them next to the Naugatuck Railroad mainline. From there a tie crane lifted them into a dump car. The train dumped the tires at Thomaston Station where a bucket loader lifted them into dumpsters. For the trial run, two teams started at Jericho Bridge, one on each side of the mainline and worked their way south and one team started at Frost Bridge Road and worked their way north. After lunch, volunteers returned to work south of Frost Bridge Road and pulled out more tires.

“This is a great project that will have a major impact on the environment and the quality of life for residents in the Greater Waterbury area” according to Seth Duke, Corporate Marketing & Communications Manager at O&G Industries.

Jack Tarter, the RMNE member who counted 700 tires along the river and mainline last year stated that he has “already spoken to neighbors of the railroad who have said that they will start taking better care of their property. Folks are really feeling a sense of pride. They want to see the Naugatuck beautiful again.”

People have illegally dumped tires, refrigerators and other debris next to the road and highway for many years. Some tires have been there so long that trees with 3” trunks were growing inside. Naugatuck Railroad brakeman, Alex Niesloss, pulled out his chain saw and freed the tires to be carried away.

“The Great Naugatuck River & Naugatuck Railroad Clean Up” is sponsored through a grant by the Connecticut Community Foundation (CCF). Saturday’s goal was merely to test the plan developed to remove 1,000 tires along the Naugatuck River and Naugatuck Railroad in Waterbury, Watertown, and Thomaston. The RMNE and NRRG are partnering with O&G Industries, Thomaston Savings Bank, Fascia’s Chocolates, Marion Manufacturing, Cherry Hill Construction, the Naugatuck River Greenway and other community and business groups to recruit volunteers and recycle the tires.

A major community effort is planned for Saturday, April 2, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Thomaston Train Station, 242 East Main Street, Thomaston, CT 06787. After registration, a “Safety Briefing” is planned for 8:30 a.m. and the work train will depart at 9:00 a.m. The last train will return at 3:00 p.m.

All adults and youth between the ages of 12 and over accompanied by adults are invited to participate. Volunteers are required to bring work gloves, work shoes or boots, blue jeans, and have updated Tetanus shots. The RMNE and NRRG recommend that volunteers have clothes to protect from poison ivy and ticks, safety glasses, and hard hats.

Those who wish to work as “Field Workers” as part of a team to pull tires from the brush or river bank to the mainline may sign up to participate online at: For details and updates, those who are interested may go to or the RMNE Facebook page.