River clean-up draws 72 volunteers: Clears another 300 old tires, totalling 700

April 7, 2016

It takes a village... To clean up the mess left behind by generations of illegal dumping and littering along the Thomaston Railroad and Naugatuck River.

In a joint effort, organized by The Railroad Museum of New England, in partnership with The Naugatuck River Revival Group, “The Great Naugatuck River & Naugatuck Railroad Clean Up - 2016” has already made huge strides in clearing the heavily littered natural resource.

Steve Casey, vice president of The Railroad Museum of New England Board of Director and chairman of this cleanup project said that he has been amazed by the hard work and volunteerism from residents, local organizations and businesses to make this project successful.

“What’s really wonderful is this area we’ve covered straddles Route 8 and the Naugatuck River, truly the corridor to this area,” he said. “People have been dumping for 50, 60, maybe even 70 years. There is a lot of trash and tons of tires over there.”

Soda bottles from around 1955 and tires to antique vehicles show how long the littering and trash dumping has been going on in the area, said Mr. Casey.

In addition to The Railroad Museum of New England and The Naugatuck River Revival Group, volunteers from O&G Industries, Fascia’s Chocolates, Cherry Hill Construction, Marion Manufacturing Company, Thomaston Savings Bank and local Boy Scout troops have all helped in the two clean up days this spring.

“This all started last spring, around this time, when Jack Tarter, a Railroad Museum member from Torrington, saw so many tires, he decided to keep track with a clicker,” said Mr. Casey. “He counted 700 tires on his clicker.”

An initial pilot clean-up was held Saturday, March 12, which brought out 30 volunteers, who cleared 420 tires a large amount of trash. The second and main clean-up, held Saturday, April 3, grew to 72 volunteers, clearing another 300 tires and filled two 30-yard dumpsters filled with trash and debris.

“The Great Naugatuck River & Naugatuck Railroad Clean Up is sponsored through a grant by the Connecticut Community Foundation,” said Mr. Casey. “The grant was for environmental and community action. This was really a ‘two-for,’ a great way to get the tires out of there and also get community involved.”

The grant approved in December was especially important, according to Mr. Casey, due to the high cost of properly disposing of the debris. The best price the volunteers could find for disposing of the tires was $3 per tire. With that many tires, thousands of dollars were used in that part of the clean-up alone.

A third cleanup day will be held in May/June, said Mr. Casey. The group hopes to get more volunteers involved. For information about “The Great Naugatuck River & Naugatuck Railroad Clean Up - 2016,” visit www.rmne.org. To learn more about the Naugatuck River Revival Group, follow them on Facebook.

The next restoration project at The Railroad Museum of New England in Thomaston is a 1929 flag signal pole, which will operate signals for the various trains at the historic 1881 station. This will be funded by a Thomaston Savings Bank grant. There are other renovations and restorations still needed at the Thomaston Train Station, ones that would improve the programming and preserve the unique history of this “era-gone-by” landmark. Mr. Casey said that the RMNE is currently working on more funding for these important projects.

“I would like to thank State Representative John Piscopo and State Senator Joan Hartley for supporting legislation that would provide for much needed capital improvements at and around Thomaston Train Station,” said Mr. Casey.