Introduction

Dozens of highways in Connecticut have been relocated: to smooth out a curve, to find a better path around a lake or over a river, or even to become a freeway. In most cases, the older alignment, still used by homes or businesses, eventually becomes a town-maintained road. In some cases, however, the old alignment is abandoned and closed off to traffic.

Traces of these "ghost roads" still remain, even as pavement, and some are accessible to hikers and cyclists. It can be fun to walk along a concrete path in the woods and realize that, decades ago, this was a signed, numbered highway.

On this page, I list former alignments that are no longer open to traffic. For a road to belong here, it must:

Some of these ghost roads pass through private property and are not legally accessible. You seem nice a nice person, dear reader, and I don't want you to get arrested or shot. So please inquire locally about whether you can hike in these areas.

And: yeah, this page would really benefit from some pictures. But I won't be traveling to the area for awhile. I've provided links to aerial and street view images where they exist.

CT 2

Tollgate Road in Glastonbury is part of old Route 2, which was bypassed in 1964 when the freeway opened.

At the cul-de-sac at the east end of Tollgate Road, the old road continues past a gate and is walkable. There's a rifle range nearby, and eventually you will intersect Shenipsit Trail, which offers another way to access the road.

The road is not intact for the entire length, but a lot of pavement remains, and there are even remnants of temporary ramps between old and new Route 2. Most of the remainder of old Route 2 is still in use, but this segment, with no properties along its route, was made redundant by the new freeway.

For a few years after the Route 2 freeway opened, Tollgate Road was SR 582A.

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CT 4

The 3-mile stretch of US 202 in New Hartford and Canton connecting to US 44 opened on Oct. 16, 1961 as the "Route 4 - 44 Connector". Route numbering there was a bit different at the time, as Route 4 followed today's US 202 out of Torrington, then followed Torrington Avenue around the Nepaug Reservoir to Collinsville, then today's Route 179 south into Burlington. Getting from Torrington to Canton required going through Collinsville; the new Connector provided a more direct approach.

Torrington Avenue unofficially became "Old Route 4", and then in 1963 became SR 566. The road stayed open until May 19, 1971, when a portion of the bridge on the Nepaug Dam slid into the reservoir. In 1973 the state turned over portions of the road to the towns, and in 1974 SR 566 was no longer a state road.

Some parts of Torrington Avenue are still in use, but the area around the dam is now a 2-mile paved hiking trail. You probably won't see original Route 4 pavement, but you will see a lot of other people enjoying the view.

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US 6

The original route of US 6 in Windham was Old Willimantic Road and Old Boston Post Road. A drive along there will show how narrow US 6 was back in the day. In 1954, a new section of US 6 opened to the south, and old US 6 became SR 682.

In 1962, SR 682 was turned over to the town, and the western portion of old US 6 was eventually closed to traffic. The old road is easy to find in Google Maps and pavement still remains. Best access (if allowed) is probably from the park and ride near the airport.

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CT 8

Thomaston might be the state capital of abandoned highways, because of three flood control dams built in response to the devastating floods in 1955. In Thomaston and Litchfield, about two miles of old Route 8 is no longer open to traffic. The route passes through two villages that are now ghost towns.

Route 8 originally continued north out of Thomaston on Main Street, a road that now dead-ends near the foot of the Thomaston dam. The continuation is blocked by a gate.

Near the end of Minor Road was Twomile Bridge, a connection from old Route 8 across the river. There may be traces of this visible from the ground. Then the road reached Fluteville (named after a flute factory), where there was also a stop on the Naugatuck rail line. The village of Fluteville no longer exists.

North of Fluteville, old Route 8 crossed the Naugatuck River into Harwinton, connecting with Valley Road. Traces of the road on both sides are visible from the air, but the bridge is gone. Near the intersection of Valley Road and Campville Hill Road was the village of Campville. Past the north end of Valley Road, the original Route 8 alignment is buried by the Route 8 freeway. The old Route starts up again at Route 118 as SR 800, an unsigned state road open to traffic.

I've seen photos of Fluteville taken by hikers, so that segment of Route 8 may be accessible. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains some public trails on the west bank of the Naugatuck River south of Spruce Brook along parts of old Route 8 and the abandoned rail line. The proposed Naugatuck River Greenway Trail between Thomaston and Torrington will likely make use of the old Route 8 roadbed.

Valley Road is also a drivable part of the original Route 8.

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CT 8

In 1969, the Colebrook River Lake was dedicated. Construction included building a new dam and relocating 7 miles of Route 8 in Connecticut and Massachusetts slightly to the west. When water levels are lower, the old Route 8 is easily visible and accessible on foot and two wheels. Part of the road in Massachusetts is open to traffic for fishing access, including a truss bridge built in 1927.

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CT 20

Before the Barkhamsted Reservoir filled, Route 20's path was reasonably straight east-west between today's intersection at Route 181 in West Hartland and today's intersection at Route 179 in Hartland.

On the east side, old Route 20 follows Walnut Hill Road, part of which is open to traffic. Beyond the end, it continues as a state forest road. The forest is Tunxis State Forest, where the Tunxis Trail crosses old Route 20; but some parts of the old route are posted No Trespassing.

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CT 32

In 1954, the state replaced a dangerous stretch of Route 32 about 8/10 of a mile long, bypassing a narrow bridge, railroad grade crossing, and several sharp curves. Part of the old Route 32 continues into the woods and appears not to be gated.

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US 44

From 1961 to 1963, a dam and reservoir was constructed on the Mad River upstream of Winstead. In 1955, the river overflowed and devastated the city, to the point the Main Street business district, once lined on both sides with businesses, has never rebuilt some of the land facing the river.

The state relocated 2.3 miles of US 44 for the project, and much of the original alignment is visible (and might be accessible). Old US 44 starts at new US 44 just east of Rugg Brook Road, and continues to the south until it approaches the dam.

The old road is in good shape and appears to be accessible (as is hiking around the dam). The new road was reportedly built to freeway standards, just in case it would become one direction of a future US 44 freeway.

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CT 69

Route 69's original path through Bethany and Prospect was more crooked, using Litchfield Turnpike and an unknown road (now gone) through the forest east of the New Naugatuck Reservoir, connecting to today's Route 69 across from Talmadge Hill Road.

The New Naugatuck Reservoir and Long Hill Dam were completed in 1915, but the "New" part of the name will stick forever. This also means Route 69 was not relocated because of the dam – the reason instead was to create a more direct route to Waterbury.

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CT 72

This part of Route 72 is now Route 272; but when 2.2 miles of the road was relocated for the Hall Meadow Brook Dam project, this was Route 72. The old road runs through John A. Minetto State Park, and access should be easy.

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CT 89

About 1 mile of the original Route 89 in Mansfield is no longer open to traffic. In 1952, an earthen dam on the Natchaug River was constructed in the area, creating Mansfield Hollow Lake on the site of a swampy area known as Turnip Meadow.

The original alignment veers north of Route 89 just north of Pine Woods Lane; a trail forks to the left leading into the forest. Some of the route appears to be still paved. At the causeway over the Fenton River leading into the lake, Old 89 crosses New 89, and then follows the northern shoreline of the lake. Most of this route has pavement remaining. It then veers northeast through the woods to reconnect just south of Atwoodville Road. Here, the unnamed, unmapped road ends at Route 89 with a stop sign.

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CT 89

About 3.5 miles of the original Route 89 in Ashford and Union is no longer open to traffic; this area is mostly forest. The original alignment led from Nagy Road in Ashford northerly to Town Hall Road (now Scranton Road) in Union. There are faint traces of this road from the air; it would be interesting to see what's on the ground. However, it appears the land is privately owned.

In 1942, this portion of Route 89 was relocated to Ferrence Road and Fish Point Road, where it is located today.

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CT 109

In 1967, the state opened the Black Rock Dam and relocated Route 109 to the north. The old route is Old Branch Road, which the dam severed in two. The west approach is open to recreational traffic and parking, but a gate blocks vehicle access to a short section closest to the dam.

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CT 175

On Oct. 21, 1968, a new four-lane section of Route 175 opened, ascending the hill toward the Berlin Turnpike. Part of the old route, Patricia Genova Drive, is open to traffic. The remainder going uphill might be hikeable.

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CT 179

The opening of the Saville Dam on Route 318, and the flooding of the Farmington River to form the Barkhamsted Reservoir, led to significant changes in the area. Two villages – Hartland Hollow and Barkhamsted Hollow – were flooded. Route 179, Route 181, and Route 20 were relocated.

East Road, which served Barkhamsted Hollow and carried Route 179, followed the east bank of the Farmington River. Parts of it are underwater, but most of the roadbed is visible from the air, though it's no longer on maps or open to traffic. It might be open to hiking.

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CT 181

The opening of the Saville Dam on Route 318, and the flooding of the Farmington River to form the Barkhamsted Reservoir, led to significant changes in the area. Two villages – Hartland Hollow and Barkhamsted Hollow – were flooded. Route 179, Route 181, and Route 20 were relocated.

Old Route 181 followed Town Hall Road, then a road severed by the reservoir, then another road on the east side to connect with Gavitt Road toward Granby. There might be little to see here; I don't have access to aerial photos (there's forest cover) or on-the-ground photos. On the other hand, it's unlikely the state would have torn up and buried about a mile of old highway.

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CT 207

In 1961, the state relocated and improved about 2 miles of Route 207 in Franklin. An old alignment of the road along the south bank of Beaver Brook is visible from the air, from west of Gager Road to east of Bailey's Hollow Road.

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Honorable Mentions

Some highways almost made the list, but fell short for various reasons: too short; no evidence visible from aerial photos; or never opened to traffic.