There was a time in Vermont where even the smallest village had it’s own railroad depot, making a once removed community now accessible to anywhere within the nation’s rail system. It established a sense of identity and pride for local residents, provided the great convenience of transportation, and in many cases helped lure growth to the regions. Even the smallest ones were done with thoughtful craftsmanship. Many in Vermont featured beautiful wooden interiors made from local wood – a thematic reflection of their country location.
But today’s Vermont is a different place, one where transportation is mostly divvied up among the asphalt. Vermonters have Interstates 89 and 91 to take them places at high speeds now, and all our small towns and cities are connected by a road of some form. With the new luxury and independence of owning a vehicle, rail travel suffered a slow decline in the 20th century, and as a result, many train stations closed and became abandoned and neglected. In recent years, old train stations have been refurbished as private homes, others have been turned into restaurants. And in the case of this one, it sits idle and abandoned, conspicuously forsaken by the very town that once urged for it’s construction.
A somber visit
I happened on this small train station completely by accident as I drove by it. It was in one of those small Vermont towns with only a general store and a single stop sign. Just beyond the train station, the speed limit was raised from 25 to 50 mph and traffic wasted no time in speeding up out of the village limits. I decided to have a look around. The building looked like it was in good condition still, but nothing was being done with it. A peek through a dirt streaked window pane revealed the inside had been gutted, and was sort of being used for storage – the rooms housing stacks of cut lumber. I looked to my left and noticed a lumber yard right next door, who was most likely using the station as a shed. I walked around to the former train platform in back and found an open window. That was my chance. I wasted no time, and slipped in quietly and quickly, my feet landing on the dusty wooden floors.
Though there wasn’t much left to the inside, it was still fascinating. The walls were done completely in old wainscoting that was stained with kerosene oil, giving the walls a distinct color that only looked better as they cracked and aged. The station was small, with the ticket vendors office, central waiting room and a few side rooms making up the one floor structure. Inside, it was silent, my footsteps across creaking floorboards making the only sound. Remnants of old signs still stained the old walls. Former built in wall cabinets were now just holes in the wall – their records and artifacts long removed. The sky outside was over cast and a little dismal – grey light was seeping through the stained windows, creating a solemn ambiance. I stopped and savored the moment, knowing that back outside, I would soon be greeting by roaring impatient traffic and the real world. It’s this rare time of reflection that makes these locations so special.
A chance find lead my tired self to another abandoned train depot, on my way home from another explore. It was in a quiet neighborhood, the type of place where we were probably suspicious just because we happened to be the only car slowly prowling the potholed gravel roads.
Still retaining much of its original character and woodwork, it had been abandoned and then converted into a garage, and then seemingly, abandoned again. The building was pretty much only a shell of what it once was, and it’s dusty old walls had the archetypal small town graffiti affixed to it by local kids most likely. But the antiquity still echoed here under the harsh late Autumn sunset.
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