Thursday Doors – Windsor, CT Train Station

Windsor Train StationMost of my regular readers know that I love trains. I take trains whenever I can, and I particularly like it when I can board the train at the Windsor Locks train station. The station is about two miles from my house, and since it’s only the second stop on the AMTRAK Northeast Regional, I have my pick of seats. I can get a cup of coffee and a snack and then settle in for some sightseeing and some work.

The only thing missing in that trip, is a door.

The Windsor Locks train station is an elevated siding. Except for the little glass shelter, it looks like the ramps they use to get cattle into rail cars in Texas. However, less than 10 minutes down the line, the train stops at the train station in Windsor. Windsor restored their historic train station in 1988. The station was originally built in 1871 for the Hartford New Haven Railroad.

Rail service started in 1844 when the Hartford and Springfield Railroad started rail service through Windsor and build a depot and a warehouse. That railroad merged with the Hartford New Haven railroad, and the depot was replaced with the train station. The warehouse appears to have survived, although I didn’t find much about its restoration. Today, both the station and the warehouse are used by Windsor Art Center (WAC), an organization that, according to AMTRAK’s website, “highlights the creative endeavors of local artists, artisans, actors and musicians.”

I think the restoration and reuse of these historic stations is an important part of preserving America’s wonderful railroad history. The railroads have rolled through Windsor for over 150 years. They merged and they became some of the most important railroads in New England. Eventually, they merged into Penn Central and, sadly, eventually, Penn Central filed for bankruptcy protection. AMTRAK was formed in the wake of that failure. AMTRAK struggles with Congress and budgets and old rails and stuck bridges, but AMTRAK keeps rolling. The smaller historic stations, like the one in Windsor can’t be AMTRAK’s concern. All they need is a cattle ramp siding like the one in Windsor Locks.

Local groups have to save these stations. In Windsor Locks, we are trying to save our historic station. We got off to a bad start, working with the wrong people, but in the last few years, we started to make progress. AMTRAK sold the station to the town, the State of CT and the town have agreed on a plan, money is being raised, grants are being received and they are currently planning the first phase of construction. This could work.

OK, back to Windsor. One of the things I love about Thursday Doors is the excuse it gives me opportunity it provides for me to research some of the older buildings that I pass every day. I like learning the history of these buildings, but I really like learning about their construction.

The Windsor train station is constructed with 7 ½” thick load bearing masonry walls. If I let myself go, I would share even more details about its construction. I’m guessing that many of you would be bored and I’m guessing that my editor would scratch out the rest of the paragraph. However, one of the really cool features of the station is the very large overhang. In the pictures, it appears to be supported by wrought iron brackets. Actually, I think those are mostly decorative. The overhang is supported by trusses that extend over the walls. Those trusses are linked by iron tie rods to the trusses supporting the mansard style roof. We normally think of things being supported by structural elements under them. In this case, the overhangs are supported from above. I think that’s pretty cool!

I feel the editor’s pen being uncapped. I’ll stop, but I included some of the structural pictures in the gallery. I found those at the Library of Congress.

This post part of Norm Frampton’s amazing series of Thursday Doors. You can join us, any Thursday if you like. Get a door, visit Norm’s page and click the blue button. You can also go there to check out the amazing doors by other addicts door aficionados.

84 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – Windsor, CT Train Station

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    1. Thanks Teagan. It is a Victorian Station. I would have loved to have seen a steam engine running through the river valley. There still is one, about an hour north of us. The Green Mountain Flyer – how’s that for a name? It’s a fun ride.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. Several other stations on this line were copied from this one. The one in Windsor Locks was built about the same time, but it’s a little different style. Some day, I hope to see it restored.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jean. I snagged these photos on my way to work. Some didn’t turn out to well, but I got enough good ones. I will revisit the area and get some photos of the other restored buildings on the site. For another Thursday.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. You are luck Judy. I consider myself lucky to be able to board a train so close to my house and take it as far as Washington. DC without changing trains. It’s such a peaceful way to travel. I wish I could (easily and reliably) go much farther.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Except for the major stations, they almost have to be turned into something to stay financially viable. There are only six trains a day through Windsor/Windsor Locks. There are plans to add light rail, but even that won’t require a full time station. I’m not sure what we are going to do with ours if we manage to get it restored. AMTRAK gave us the building, but refuses to use it as a station. There’s a good reason, which I’ll explore at some point. Thanks for dropping by Brenda.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Dan, I haven’t been on a train for years, other than the Metra trains that run from the suburbs into Chicago. I have a yen to take the train from Toronto to Vancouver and to see the spectacular scenery. But I do have good memories of taking the train from Omaha to California a few times when I was a child. Not sure the memories are the same as those of my parents, as I appear to have forgotten all the things that went wrong during the trips. :-)

    I love the lighting here, giving me the early morning feel of anticipation that I love when traveling. This is a beautiful gallery and I’m all for preserving and restoring these old stations (and other buildings as well.)

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Janet. I’ve traveled the Northeast Corridor many times, but I, too would love to take the train across Canada. I may treat myself to that trip after I retire. This time of year, the sky is so beautiful when I ride to work that it’s easy to talk myself out of the car for some photos.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post Dan. I just love old train stations. We owe the opening up of this entire continent to the rail industry. Of course some may not think that is a good thing, but I still think the train is a wonderful way to travel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norm. I wish AMTRAK would restore the Vermont link to the Montrealer. There was a time, not too many years ago that I could have gone from my town to Montreal by only going north. These days, I have to go to New York first.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a splendid building. I love the trusses.
    I, too, enjoy the doorcursions and the learning that sometimes accompanies them. Without today’s post, I seriously doubt I’d find myself reading the 23rd president’s State of the Union speeches.
    Great post! :)

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great shots! I love how they kept the look of the station. I really enjoy train stations and railroads. They have such history to them. I was kind of sad when they started removing the tracks in our area. One stretch of tracks was turned into a running/biking trail and has become very useful. I just wish they could have somehow left the tracks there and visible. Perhaps that was too much money though? The stretch by my house is still there. Well, the gravel is there but the tracks have been removed. A horse trail would be nice, but I won’t hold my breath.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! We have a lot of rails-to-trails projects underway here. Unfortunately, for the past few years, they have been stuck being “a few years” from completion. That means that the developed bits are not yet connected. In theory, I will be able to ride my bike to my daughter’s house about 30 miles away from ours.

      Even if they were to get that all done, I’d rather have the trains :)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We have one trail that goes about 15 miles. I have used it. Well, not all 15 miles at once. Now, if they had the horse trail…I might just trot on down to the river. But, I don’t think she would like all the bikers sneaking up on her. Nor do I think the runners would enjoy her droppings. Yeah, the train sounds better!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I too think it’s important to save, and if possible preserve/restore old train stations, as railroads were-and to some extent even today still are-an important part of our history. On that note if you like Canadian folksinger Gordon Lightfoot, he has a classic song about the building of our Canadian railroad, Canadian Railroad Trilogy. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/Yzo6Otpgj-E

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment and for that link. I have that album/cassette/cd/MP3 but it’s always good to hear it again. They are very important and, in the US at least, they’ve been neglected for far too long.

      Like

  6. The ironwork is lovely and unique. The whole station is adorable. I love the bricks, gables, lamps, and of course that ironwork. The blue hour images are wonderful! It’s my favorite part of the day to make photographs.

    Terrific subject and history Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. There are several stations identical to this on the line, because so many towns liked this design enough to just copy it. 30 miles south in Wallingford, CT, the station is 100% identical.

      I frequently stop on my way to work (I go in an hour early, so I always have time) for pictures, but this is a beautiful time of year to do it. I’ll get a second shot after we go through DST change. I normally hate that change, but this is the one benefit.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Train stations just have a look about them that I’ve always enjoyed. All the detailing just really makes them pleasing to look at. I’m especially liking the choice of lighting fixtures on this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. All of these shots are good, Dan, but I especially like the first one and the last one. The arches have such an attractive, retro look to them, one that we seldom get in more modern buildings. You picked an ideal time to take these pics, too. The station has a nice, warm look contrasted with the blue dawn sky. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Paul. I got lucky with the timing, as I just decided to stop on my way to work. I have to go back because the buildings that I could only photograph into the sun were too dark to include. So I’ll be featuring the other buildings on another Thursday.

      The last one is my favorite because it includes some of the railroad stuff :)

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It absolutely counts, why would you even ask :) Do yourself a favor Mary and find a historic train, preferably steam, that you can ride. Even a short ride on a train is good for the soul. Thanks for stopping by. I’f I’m ever in Green Bay, I’ll buy you a beers at Titletown

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a beautiful train station, Dan. Big headline in our local newspaper last week that there is some interest in opening our Amtrak station here in town again. I so hope that was not just a teaser headline because I could then ride from town all the way into New Orleans–that would be heaven!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For the past three years, I’ve ridden from Windsor Locks to Washington, D.C. 6 1/2 hours on the same train and it is such a great feeling. I could fly in about half the time, but between TSA and the airline and… the train is so much nicer. I hope they open that station for you, Lois.

      Like

    1. I travel to WDC, but I haven’t taken the Acela because I have to wait and change trains in New Haven. The time the Acela saves, I loose on the layover. I enjoy being able to just settle into my seat and ride the whole way. I have taken the Acela once, it is a great ride.

      Like

  10. That is one cool train station. I have to admit though it confuses me entirely that the US has so many town/city names that are originally from Europe. Looks like some British ppl might have settled where you are :-). I used to live in Meppen, Germany close to the Dutch border. When I moved to England I googled Meppen and ended up on the US pages instead of the German one. That taught me a lesson on how to research on the internet lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, we weren’t very creative in the early days here in “New England” I work in Glastonbury, CT. So many of our towns are either outright ripoffs of European cities or the name with a “New” prefix. 30 mile south of Glastonbury is New London.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I am such a fan of the original Glastonbury. One of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited. I suspect it was a way of creating “home” in such a far away place to use the names from places of the “old” continent.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow what a fascinating post again, Dan!!! I stared and looked at your pictures a long time just amazed by what my eyes were seeing. Those trusses are huge! I found the architecture so incredibly touching, why I honestly couldn’t tell you but perhaps it is because someone is actually preserving historical buildings. They are beautiful! And your history lesson enriched me as in many times past your history lessons have for me. You amaze me, my friend, how you dig out these facts about your town. You are inspiring! I really thank you for another terrific doors series post. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Amy. It’s easy when they are on the historic registry and in the Library of Congress :) I love learning about the way they built these buildings. The trusses are do interesting. More so when you consider they didn’t have computers to design them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know all about trusses, Dan, because hubs built a Pole Barn. I saw what he did in designing those trusses. I often go into our barn just to stare at the angles they make and the feeling it gives me is one of absolute awe. There is such perfection and order in them as in the picture you showed. I could stare at just that one for a LONG time. Just incredible!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You should share some photos of those someday Amy. I love looking at things like that. It’s all about knowing how forces travel and work with and against each other. It’s fascinating stuff. I’m with you, I could look at them for a long time.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. I think I will take some pictures of those trusses. Thanks, Dan, for the idea. :) The angles and the patterns and the sheer power in them puts me in a place of just looking, looking and looking some more. I cannot even begin to imagine how these would be done without a computer. Just wow!

            Liked by 1 person

  12. The building of this train station has lots of character! Have to admit, I associate train stations with hurrying to get there in time. In my teens in Holland the train, bus, and trams were my transportation. No parents who gave you a ride, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amanda. I think it would be a great way/place to write. AMTRAK had a writer’s deal last year where you could travel all over the country, in a sleeper car and write. I would love to be able to do that.

      Like

  13. It is a gorgeous, historic place Dan! I love railroad stations. This one reminds me of the British station in the movie Woman in Black. Thanks for sharing it. I love when I lie in bed at night and can hear a train. It is such a comforting sound. Lovely door!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cheryl. We hear the train every morning on the weekend, and someone will say “there goes your train.” I love that sound and I love getting on board. I get to go to Washington, DC again this year, and I will go by train. 6 1/2 hours on the rails !

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Dan this is great! I LOVE these old train stations, and this one with the mansard roof is extra special in my opinion. That’s wonderful to hear that your town is making an effort to refurbish its station. I need to send your blog link to my Dad – he will enjoy this and many of your other articles as well. He’s a big researcher and a former engineer (aerospace though) :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deb. Your dad probably still appreciates the engineering of trusses (and the fact that they did all this without computers). I am so frustrated with the town of Windsor Locks, this is about the 3rd or 4th attempt to save the train station and they keep messing up. Hopefully, this time, they will get it right. I’m being cautiously optimistic.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Beautiful structure and beautiful photos. One summer the bike shop I worked for as a teenager rented an abandon railway station and I spent that summer putting Schwinns together in the old waiting room. It was a great place to work – or explore when I should have been working. It’s history and architecture worth saving. Good post, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These stations are such important parts of our history, They are from a time when we weren’t only interested in getting from A to B as fast as possible, and hopefully with WiFi and power :) This was back when we took pride in every aspect of the journey.

      Liked by 1 person

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