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Vermont RR Depots&Covered Bridges

Adventurers in New England

Chapter Six


Vermont RR Depots & Covered Bridges


Robin Bowers

Text and Photos by Author

June 14, 2015


Part B

Chris and I have a road trip adventure

    After our train ride, Chris and I jumped into our car and head to Proctor, VT for our first stop at Wilson Castle.

    Wilson Castle is a three-story house, home to five generations of the Wilson family. Located on an 115-acre estate, the house was built in the middle of the 19th Century with a unique style and design. Today, part of the estate is owned by the Wilson Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization with the goal of preserving the complex.


    The house was originally built by Dr. John Johnson and his English wife beginning in 1867. John Johnson was from Vermont, and he meet his aristocratic wife when he went to England to study medicine. They returned to Vermont and began to build the house using the money of Johnson's wife. It took more than seven years to build the house and support facilities such as barns and dairy, spending more than $1.3 million. The story turns sad quickly as Mrs. Johnson soon died and the place became known as "Johnson's Folly" due to his inability to pay taxes and upkeep, and soon much of the furniture and antiques were sold off or given to workers to settle the debt.

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    The property changed hands at least four time between 1880 and 1939, until Herbert Lee Wilson acquired the property. Wilson was a pioneer in the AM radio business and had built radio stations all over the world. He was looking for a new location to build a station as well as a summer home for his family. He bought the former Johnson home and installed a radio station - WEWE - on the property. Herbert Lee Wilson joined the Army Signal Corps in 1941. He retired in 1950"s with the rank of colonel and returned to his home near Proctor. In 1962, he began offering tours of the house. Wilson died in 1981 and the operation of the home passed through several generations of the Wilson Family.


    The house, now know as the Wilson Castle, is three stories tall and consists of 32 rooms. The interior features 13 fireplaces finished with imported tiles and bronze. Furnishings include Far Eastern and European antiques and museum pieces, complemented by statuary, Chinese scrolls and Oriental rugs. Many of the rooms are used for special events, including wedding parties. The exterior facade of Wilson Castle is set with English brick and marble, and is dominated by nineteen open proscenium arches and shadowed by a towering turret, parapet and balcony. There are 84 stained-glass windows. On the grounds are cattle barns, stables, the carriage house and the glass house.


    Because of construction and the workers here, our stay was short and after a few photographs, we were off to our next stop of Center Rutland.


    MP   56.00   Center Rutland - Center Rutland is the junction between the former D & H line west to Whitehall (NY) and north along the former Rutland Railroad to Burlington VT. There is a long spur on the south side of the junctions well as a short spur off the Burlington Line into the station location. Between the two lines is the old Rutland Railroad train station. Built as a railroad depot in 1912, the Center Rutland Depot is a recognized historical landmark. A unique characteristic of the station is that it has a bay window for an agent on each side of the building, as both the D&H and Rutland used the station. The station was last used by the railroad in 1961. The depot is now a museum operated by the Rutland Railroad Association and the Rutland Railroad Museum and Model Railroad Club. It includes displays about area railroading and a model of the Rutland Railroad. Outside is former wooden Rutland Railroad caboose # 45.


    Center Rutland was probably the first part of the City of Rutland actually settled. The falls on Otter Creek were an attraction. James Mead arrived at these falls on Otter Creek in 1769, making him the first recognized setter of Rutland. He and his family were given shelter by members of the Caughnawaga tribe while they finished their log cabin. Mead soon built saw and grist mills on the falls and ran a ferry on the Otter Creek. By 1759, the Crown Point Military Road passed through this area, and in 1778, Fort Ranger was built on the bluff northeast of the falls, known as Mead's Falls at the time.

side rr


Photo of author by Chris G.

    Our next stop was just down the road.

          Coach #551   

        During October 2013, passenger coach 551 was donated by the Vermont Rail System and placed on display at the Vermont Farmers Food Center north of the Amtrak station where the railroad crosses West Street. To protect it from the weather, a shelter will be built around it.


        Coach 551 was built by Osgood-Bradley (later part of Pullman) in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1913 as a smoker coach for the Rutland. The car weights fifty-one-tons and is sixty-one feet long, and was built on cast-steel underframe and seated seventy-two passengers in leather seats. The car was retired in 1936, but returned to service to handle the demands of World War II. After the war, the car was stripped and turned into a work car, and then Bridge & Building bunk car X624 in late 1946. The car was purchased in 1963 by Nelson Blount for service on the new Green Mountain Railroad excursion service, later to become Steamtown. The car was restored and the interior was refurbished with Canadian Pacific cloth seats. The car was again renovated on 1983-84.

    Our next stop was almost next door: the locomotive yard.

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VTR 207  EMD  GP38-3 build date 1969. Ex-Southern 2718.




VTR 206  EMD  GP38-3 build date 1969.  Ex-Southern 2741


CLP 203  EMD 32664 GP38  build date 11/64.  Ex-Maine Central 255.


VTR 303  EMD 776025-15   GP40-2.    Ex-HLCX 509, originally B&M 314.  

    After taken these photos, we drove to US 7, going southbound and paralleling the railroad tracks.

    Our first depot shot.


Re-purposing of the Danby, VT depot.

    Continuing south we reach Bennington and spotted this obelisk.

battle trim

The Bennington Battle Monument is 306 feet 4 and 1/2 inches tall and was completed and dedicated in 1891. It is constructed from blue-grey magnesium limestone.

The Monument was built to commemorate the Battle of Bennington which occurred on August 16, 1777, and is considered to be the turning point in the Revolutionary War.



Bennington station was built in 1897, the architect was William C. Bull of Bennington. It's design was strongly influenced by H.H. Richardson. The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Our next stop was the community of North Bennington. The community's history started with settlers along Paran Creek about 1761. The train station was built in 1880 at the Main Street grade crossing. This location placed it just west of the switch for the wye to Bennington. Described architecturally as Empire style, the station is currently used by several local government agencies. The building was entered in the National Register on April 11, 1973.



The former Rutland freight house


When Chris and I saw this, we both flashed on our dear friend Ken Ruben. Ken never learned to drive an automobile. So he was an expert in bus and trains routes and schedules in the metro LA area. Dear Ken passed away this past spring after a brief illness.

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Community Art in North Bennington.

    Our next depot stop.

Eagle Bridge Boston & Maine Station.



    And then on to the depot.



Cambridge Batten Kill Railroad Station



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Cambridge Batten Kill Freight House.

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A painted lady in Cambridge, NY

    OK. Lets take a break and look at something else, please.


Eagleville Covered Bridge.




    OK, Now you're having depot withdraws. So check this one out.


Shushan Batten Kill Railroad Station, NY




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     Can we see one more covered bridge, please.



The covered bridge on Covered Bridge Road.

    Guess what ! I have  more great depot pictures for you.


Arlington Rutland Railroad Station.



    This next one was a hard find.

        MP     23.16    Manchester


            As late as 1949, the Rutland Railroad had a water station here, and a siding 52 cars long. A house track ran around the back side of the large wooden station (built 1902) to serve local customers, a track that still exists. Today, the original Rutland Railroad freight station in now part of Miles Lumber, a company that in the past logged, milled and sold timber throughout the area.




            Tourism also grew with the arrival of the railroad, and the Manchester area developed a number of summer resorts. Today, there are a number of factory outlet stores in the area, still drawing tourists. One of the most interesting local businesses is Orvis, a family-owned retail and mail-order business specializing in high-end fly fishing, hunting and sporting goods. This company was founded in 1856 and is considered to be the oldest mail-order retailer in the United States.

            Let's wrap the day up with one last stop and depot.

            MP    45.07    Wallingford Rutland Railroad Station - The old train station, built in 1867, retired in 1951, and sold to the local fire department in 1958, is on the east side of the tracks just north of Florence Avenue. Between the two is a bridge over Roaring Brook. Roaring Brook flows off the south slope of Bear Mountain and continues west through Wallingford and into Otter Creek. The station has an unique bay window on the south end and a freight house on the north end.


        The Village of Wallingford did have one interesting industry - pitchforks.  Founded in 1835, the Batcheller Works became on of the first pitchfork manufactures in the country. With the arrival of the railroad, their products were soon being sold nationwide. In 1869, a second pitchfork factory, Franklin Post, opened at Wallingford. In 1902, the American Fork & Hoe Company (True Temper) of Cleveland, Ohio, acquired the Batcheller Works. The Wallingford Manufacturing Company, the heir to Franklin Post's manufacturing plant, was incorporated in 1902, then acquired by the Wellard Vale Manufacturing Company of Canada in 1910. For many years, ash logs have been brought to Wallingford for the production of True Temper handles, and piles of the logs can be seen north of the factory. By 1930, the pitchfork factory had been converted from the manufacture of farm implements to golf clubs and other recreational products.



This is the intersection of Railroad Street (running beside the tracks) and Depot Street (coming from downtown).

        It is was now around 7:00 PM and time to head north on US 7 to Rutland and the motel.

        For dinner, we decided to walk to the next block and try the Ponderosa Steakhouse located on US RT.7 S. I got the Chop steak/gravy/mushrooms with baked potato, salad and ice tea. Both of us enjoyed our meal and chatted with several fellow conventioneers about trips taken and to be taken. Afterwards it was the short walk back to the motel and our room.

        The end of a long day full of all new things.

        Big day tomorrow - Train ride thru the Adirondacks in my first dome car ride.