Easily accessible on foot from the town center and the grounds of Castleton College, the depot, erected in 1850, is one of the oldest station buildings in the national Amtrak network.
266 Main Street Castleton, VT 05735
- Annual Station Revenue (2013)
- Annual Station Ridership (2013)
|Facility Ownership||Castleton Depot, LLC|
|Parking Lot Ownership||Castleton Depot, LLC, Vermont Railway (VTR)|
|Platform Ownership||Castleton Depot, LLC, Vermont Railway (VTR)|
|Track Ownership||Vermont Railway (VTR)|
|4 Long Term Parking Spaces||4 Short Term Parking Spaces||Accessible Platform|
|Accessible Restrooms||Accessible Waiting Room||Dedicated Parking|
|Enclosed Waiting Area||Restrooms||Wheelchair Lift|
- Ethan Allen Express
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The Castleton station is located on Main Street just west of downtown, but is easily accessible on foot from the town center as well as the grounds of Castleton College. Amtrak service to Castleton began on January 2, 2010 when the nearby Fair Haven stop—consisting of a modest shelter structure—was closed. The Castleton ribbon cutting was attended by the governor, passenger rail supporters, and residents, many of whom rode on the first train from Rutland. The improved facility at Castleton offers passengers an indoor waiting room. Erected in 1850, the Castleton depot is one of the oldest station buildings in the national Amtrak network.
The two story rectangular depot sports a simple gabled roof with off-center cross gables on the street and trackside facades. A deep eave supported by brackets protects passengers from inclement weather as they wait outside for the arrival of the train. The presence of the second floor is effectively masked by the eave and the oversize, elongated brackets; this visual trick is enhanced by the lack of windows on the second floor but for those located in the end and cross gables. The building’s textured walls are divided into two sections: a roughly five foot high clapboard base surmounted by a vast expanse of shingles. As the sunlight plays across the thousands of shingles, it creates myriad shadow lines that change throughout the day.
A waiting room and station master’s office originally occupied the eastern end of the building, while the opposite side was dedicated to freight. Doors sheltered by the cross gables allowed entry into the building from the street or the platform. To encourage airflow through the interior, transoms above the doorways could be opened. A projecting trackside bay at the northeast corner permitted the station master to look out the windows and monitor traffic on the line. The location of the freight room on the west end is indicated by the wide entryways with double doors that facilitated the easy movement of crates and parcels between the storage area and the train. Amazingly, the exterior of the depot has remained largely intact over the decades but for the recent addition of a small room on the eastern end.
In 1966 the Delaware and Hudson Railroad sold the structure to a local resident; passenger service to Castleton had ceased in the late 1940s. The building was maintained but not actively used until the owner’s daughter, Mary Ann Jakubowski, decided to rehabilitate it in 2005. She and her husband were careful to preserve the building’s historic character while upgrading the electrical wiring, the heating system, and lighting. The building was also reinsulated to keep it warm and comfortable during the winter months. In addition to a passenger waiting room, the depot houses a business that includes a deli, bakery and coffee shop.
When European explorers first visited what is now southwestern Vermont, it was primarily inhabited by American Indians belonging to the Mahican (or Mohican) confederacy. Unlike portions of the New England coast, Vermont was difficult to access due to mountain ranges and thick forests. Many scholars believe that it was not densely settled and was instead used as a seasonal hunting ground by various tribes. Vermont remained beyond the sphere of European colonists well into the mid-18th century and acted as a buffer zone between the French towns of lower Canada and the English settlements of coastal New England. The region only became attractive to English colonists after the British defeated the French in 1760 and gained permanent control of Canada.
Vermont did not come into existence as a separate entity until 1777, and prior to this year the territory was disputed by New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. In 1761, a charter for much of the land that became Castleton was granted to Samuel Brown by the governor of New Hampshire. Brown never settled on the land, and it was not until six years later that Amos Bird and Noah Lee of Salisbury, Conn. traveled to the region and surveyed the town site. Permanent settlement did not occur until 1770, but within five years there were roughly 30 families living in the fertile valleys nestled amid ridges of slate. The origin of the town’s name is unclear, but the strongest accounts suggest that it was chosen to recall a village in England.
Many of the first settlers were attracted to the southern edge of Lake Bomoseen where a waterfall provided power for a saw-mill erected by Bird. The early years were devoted to clearing parcels of land in preparation for agriculture, but Castleton also played a role in the Revolutionary War. In 1775, Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys rendezvoused with Benedict Arnold at Zadock Remington’s tavern in Castleton. They discussed plans for the American attack on Fort Ticonderoga. After an American defeat two years later, Castleton was briefly occupied by the Hessians, mercenary soldiers of the British Army. A fort was constructed east of town in 1779 to guard against future attack.
Post-war, the town developed into an agricultural and educational center. In 1787, the state legislature chartered a Grammar School to be located in Castleton. Much like a modern high school, it prepared students to enter university. The town’s educational reputation was further burnished in 1818 with the founding of a medical school—one of the first in the country. Both institutions attracted students from the wider region, and the medical school even drew scholars from Europe and South America before it closed in 1862. While in operation, the medical school conferred more medical degrees than any other institution in New England.
The prosperity born of the agriculture and education sectors visibly altered the appearance of Castleton in the early 19th century. Master “house-joiner” Thomas Dake handily renovated or oversaw the construction of numerous homes on Main Street while heeding the architectural fashions of the day. The resulting cohesive streetscape of classically inspired Federal and Greek Revival buildings is often associated with the image of the “ideal” New England town, and many of Dake’s creations are included in a National Register Historic District.
The Castleton area also boasted a number of slate quarries and mills where the rock was finished for use as flooring and in designed pieces such as furniture and mantelpieces. Slate was especially popular in the Victorian Era as a roofing material, and different colored slates were often arranged in complex patterns and cut into shapes ranging from rectangles to hexagons. The western shore of Lake Bomoseen held many deposits, and by the beginning of the twentieth century, Rutland County had more than 100 quarries in operation. In 1912, Vermont produced one third of the country’s slate, second only to Pennsylvania.
Although slate was an important component of the local economy by the mid-19th century, it was the arrival of the railroad that helped expand the industry in western Vermont. The railroad allowed the slate to be efficiently transported to New England ports at reasonable cost. In 1848, the state granted a charter to the Rutland and Whitehall Railroad, also known as the “Castleton Company.” At a little under seven miles, the line was completed in 1850 and connected Castleton to Fair Haven on the border with New York; depots were built at Castleton, Hydeville, and Fair Haven.
To the east it connected with another line to Rutland while on the west it linked with the Saratoga and Whitehall Railroad, which leased the Rutland and Whitehall once it opened. Twenty years later, the larger Delaware and Hudson Company (D&H) leased the Rutland and Whitehall. As part of the D&H system, Castleton gained connections to the Hudson River Valley, central New York, southern Quebec, and northeastern Pennsylvania. In western Vermont, the D&H was often referred to as the “Slate Picker” for the important role it played in transporting the product to distant markets.
Towards the end of the 19th century, pleasure seekers attracted to the healthful air of the mountains began to build cottages along the shore of Lake Bomoseen, located a few miles west of downtown Castleton. The hills and mountains of northern New England were celebrated as prime summer resorts where urban folks could escape the heat of the city and reconnect with nature; the railroad made it easy to access holiday spots whether for a week or the entire season.
In the 1920s, New Yorker magazine arts critic and commentator Alexander Woollcott purchased seven acres on Neshobe Island in the middle of the lake. Woollcott was a member of the Algonquin Round Table, an informal gathering of artists, writers, actors, journalists, and intellectuals that met regularly at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. The island estate was a weekend getaway for the group until Woollcott’s death in 1943; visitors included Ethel Barrymore, Irving Berlin, Vivian Leigh, and Harpo Marx.
In the town center, visitors may window-shop in the galleries and antique stores that line Main Street, or make their way to the campus of Castleton College. The descendent of the early Grammar School, the college was formally established as a teachers’ institute in 1867, and was elevated to a state college in 1962. The campus is connected to the Castleton depot via the Delaware and Hudson Rail Trail. Located along a former railroad right-of-way that once linked Rutland and Albany, the pathway welcomes not only hikers and bikers but equestrians too.
Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this station which is served by two daily trains. The Ethan Allen Express is financed primarily through funds made available by the Vermont Agency of Transportation and the New York State Department of Transportation.