April 7, 1927 – Derby’s Shipping History is now Closed as R.R. Co. Buys Dock
The Hallock and Bristol docks1, the last and largest of a long line of docks which extended along what was known as Derby Landing from below the Bradley property2 as far north as the Naugatuck bridge, have been abandoned. The railroad3 has secured both of these properties, and their title will in all probability preclude any competition from shipping, and mean the termination of Derby’s historic career as a shipping center. The hopes of a shipping renaissance in Derby raised by the favorable report on a project to deepen the river channel from the mouth to Derby have been blasted, it is said.
The Hallock dock, disposed of by Hallock Realty company to Arthur Goldstein of the Derby Coal and Charcoal company last December, was sold by him to the railroad last February, when the railroad company commenced building a new silo track to his property across Commerce Street.
The Bristol dock, which until recently was owned by the American Brass Company4, was purchased by the railroad last February.
The railroad has filled in with dirt its trestle along the dock property, leaving only a small “subway” for access to the waterfront.
At the Hallock dock many of the sailing vessels constructed in the Hallock shipyards directly behind were launched5. The Hallock family which came to Derby in 1824 was active in commerce for many years. In years gone by, before the river channel had been allowed to choke up with sand bars, large sailboats and steamers plied between Derby and other centers of commerce. During a period following the War of 1812 extensive trade was carried on between Derby and the West Indies, rum and molasses being the chief imports. Derby harbor was far more important than either Bridgeport or New Haven at that time, and the town was a trading center for towns as far north as Newtown and Mattatuck or Waterbury. Local interests, believing that Derby would get more trade if a road were completed to New Haven backed the scheme for all they were worth. When the road6 was opened it appeared that the judgment of the local men were was poor, for the greater part of the trade went to the Elm City, which soon out-grew Derby in population and importance.
The railroad when first put through cut away most of the Derby docks and gradually froze out the shipping interests. Now that the New Haven road has got possession of the last surviving docks, Derby has no waterfront. It is with extreme reluctance that many Derby people view the passing of this property into the hands of the railroad company, for many see the closing of the docks as another step backwards for Derby and another boost for the younger but more progressive and wide awake city of Shelton7.
Some optimistic Derbyites believe, however, that the railroad company may at some future time develop the dock, and operate it should the deepening of the channel to 15 feet increase steamer traffic on the river.
- Located near the foot of Commerce Street in East Derby.
- Approximately where the Hidden Pond shopping center is today along New Haven Avenue.
- At that time “the railroad” was the New York, New Haven, & Hartford railroad.
- The local American Brass Company plants were located in Ansonia. The world’s first electric locomotive was constructed to haul raw materials between the William Wallace brass mills, one of ABC’s predecessors, and the Derby docks.
- The last ship launched here was the Modesty, in 1868.
- This is today’s New Haven Avenue, or Route 34, once called the Derby Turnpike.
- The Shelton Docks, on Riverdale Avenue near Wharf Street, were still in operation in 1927, primarily serving coal barges.