Amatos Toy and Hobby – 70 Years in Middletown: A Look at a Man’s Hobbies and Some History of Railroading in CT

The photos in this post were made July 25, 2010 in Middletown CT at Amatos Toy and Hobby store on Main Street. (click to enlarge any photo) The event is described in an article in The Middletown Press:

“MIDDLETOWN — More than 150 members of the National Lionel Operating Train Society attended a private showing of a 3,000-square-foot train exhibit at the 70th Anniversary celebration of Amato’s Toy and Hobby Store Wednesday evening.

The train exhibit includes seven operating model train layouts and local railroad memorabilia along with the never-before displayed, extensive pre-war Lionel train collection of Amato’s owner and founder, Vincent Amato.

“The visual of what everyone has put together is really neat,” said Diane Amato, Vincent’s daughter and coordinator of the event. “When you see this room, you will be amazed….”
www.middletownpress.com/articles/2010/07/14/business/doc4…

Amatos Toy and Hobby is located at 395 Main Street; Middletown CT 06457

In addition to the wonderful layouts of operating model trains of various gauges there were showcases of Mr. Amato’s collections of trains and other toys. Also, much memorabilia and information about early railroading in Middletown. So, I have included some historical photos and information later in this post.

Vincent Amato, Prop. and Train Collector Extraordinaire

O'Rourke's Diner - Main Street, Middletown

One of the seven model train layouts

Model Train Layout with Winter Motif


Mr. Amato's Personal Collection of Lionel Standard Gauge Trains

Shipyard Scene in Miniature

A few words and photographs about early railroading in Middletown and central Connecticut: From the late 19th century and well into the 20th Middletown was a busy railroad center with several North/South and East/West lines passing through the city. In 1888, for example, 29 passenger trains passed through here on a daily basis. Even though all passenger service was discontinued by the middle of the 20th century there is still active freight service in the city. The most interesting reminder of the glory days of railroading in Connecticut Valley is the iron swing bridge connecting Middletown with Porland. This bridge was constructed in 1884 to carry the so called “White Train” of the New York and Boston Airline RR across the Connecticut River, and thence through the rolling hills of eastern Connecticut to Massachusetts and on to Boston. (see photo below)

The White Train commenced operations in 1891. Popularly known as the Ghost Train. It was made up of gleaming white coaches trimmed with gold. The parlor cars’ interiors were finished in mahogany and furnished with velvet rugs, silk curtains and upholstered plush chairs. The train’s schedule was so well advertised that people came from miles around to wait at stations or crossing to see it go by. The fast express was replaced in 1895 by the Air Line Limited.(see 2nd photo below) The Airline Railroad fell into decline because of the need for heavier equipment and longer trains which could not navigate the steep grades and numerous curves. Although the name Airline Route gives one the impression of a straight and level roadbed, this was not the case here.

Airline Railroad Swing Bridge Connecticut River-Middletown to Portland

The White Train or Ghost Train

Four of the early Middletown Train Stations (none remain)

Railroad Man and His Dog - Middletown Depot

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6 Responses to “Amatos Toy and Hobby – 70 Years in Middletown: A Look at a Man’s Hobbies and Some History of Railroading in CT”

  1. lvn600 Says:

    Amato’s was my favorite store when I was a kid. Used o buymodel rockets and microscope slides there.-Interesting post-thanks.

    • John Brush Says:

      In my youth Larry, the closest thing to Amato’s we had in Huntington L.I. was a store called Toy Town, about 1/4 the size of Amato’s. Although there was a separate store in town featuring Lionel trains.

  2. Toy Train | Cheap Train Says:

    [...] piece about the show with additional information about the history of railroading in Connecticut. Click here to view.. Tags: TRAIN Written by [...]

  3. Amato Toy and Hobby-70 Years in Middletown CT-Train Display | Rctoy4u Says:

    [...] Update, Aug 2: I have published a rather long blog piece about the show with additional information about the history of railroading in Connecticut. Click here to view.. [...]

  4. Amato Toy and Hobby-70 Years in Middletown CT-Train Display - HO Model Train Sets Says:

    [...] Update, Aug 2: I have published a rather long blog piece about the show with additional information about the history of railroading in Connecticut. Click here to view.. [...]

  5. Get a Hobby!: 101 All-Consuming Diversions for Any Lifestyle | Best HobbiesBest Hobbies Says:

    [...] Update, Aug 2: I have published a rather long blog piece about the show with additional information about the history of railroading in Connecticut. Click here to view.. [...]

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