Opened in 1999, the station is adjacent to the Rutland Plaza Shopping Center and the shops, galleries, and restaurants lining historic Merchant’s Row.
25 Evelyn Street Rutland, VT 05701
- Annual Station Revenue (2015)
- Annual Station Ridership (2015)
|Facility Ownership||City of Rutland|
|Parking Lot Ownership||City of Rutland|
|Platform Ownership||City of Rutland|
|Track Ownership||Vermont Railway (VTR)|
|30 Long Term Parking Spaces||5 Short Term Parking Spaces||Accessible Payphones|
|Accessible Platform||Accessible Restrooms||Accessible Waiting Room|
|Accessible Water Fountain||Dedicated Parking||Enclosed Waiting Area|
- Ethan Allen Express
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The Rutland station is adjacent to the Rutland Plaza Shopping Center and the shops, galleries, and restaurants that line historic Merchant’s Row. It opened in 1999 on the edge of the former Rutland Railway yard on the western edge of downtown. Designed by local firm NBF Architects, the station has walls of red brick that rise from a base of textured gray concrete block. Overall, the structure resembles an exaggerated saltbox house. Typical of the early colonial period, those homes featured a two story section that tapered to one story with the addition of a lean-to and a rather steep roof. The Rutland station plays with this historic typology but puts a twist on it with the addition of a second lean-to so that the building features a two-story central section framed by two arms tapering to one-story on the north and south elevations.
On the principal street façade, a deep eave and projecting cross gable supported by simple brackets form a broad entrance canopy. It welcomes travelers, but also protects them from inclement weather as they are dropped off at the curb or approach on foot. Below the gable, passengers enter a loggia that rises two full stories in height to create a grand sense of arrival. At the back of the loggia, a wall of glass allows ample light to flood the interior waiting room whose airiness is further enhanced by a gabled skylight with clerestory windows. Lying along the ridge of the green seamed-metal roof, the tall skylight prominently caps the building. Trackside, the roof extends to form another canopy whose arms stretch out along the platform. The new Rutland station cost $718,000, and funding was obtained through the following sources: $695,000 from the Federal Transit Administration; $13,000 from the city of Rutland; and $10,000 through a donation from a private citizen.
The Ethan Allen Express that links Rutland and New York City was established in 1996, and it is quite popular with winter sports enthusiasts who visit the mountain resorts of Vermont to ski, snowboard, and enjoy the beautiful landscape. U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords, a Rutland native who represented Vermont in both chambers of the U.S. Congress, retired from office in 2007. To celebrate his 32 years of public service and his advocacy for passenger rail, city leaders decided to honor Jeffords by renaming the station the “James M. Jeffords Rail Passenger Welcome Center.” In addition, the city also chose to install a commemorative plaque in the waiting room.
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 land was disputed by New York, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts. Many of the early settlements in the territory were established by charters issued by Governor Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. A charter was granted for Rutland in 1761, but the area was not permanently settled until the end of the decade when James Meade ventured north from Manchester.
By the end of 1770, only four or five families had relocated to Rutland, and their energies were focused on clearing the land and preparing it for agriculture. The origin of the town’s name remains uncertain. It is possible that it recalls Rutland, Massachusetts, home to the first grantee of the 1761 charter, while others believe that Governor Wentworth named the settlement after the 3rd Duke of Rutland, perhaps in an attempt to gain support for New Hampshire’s claim on the land.
Vermont remained an independent republic until 1791 when it joined the United States; after statehood, Rutland alternated with other communities to host the legislature. Rutland developed as an agricultural center. Imported Merino sheep dotted some of the hillsides; sheared each year, the animals’ fine fur was sent to early textile mills built along New England’s fall line. Grist and saw mills supplied the community with flour and cut lumber, respectively. As county seat, Rutland was also a center for local government and boasted a courthouse and the attendant lawyers’ offices and inns to accommodate visitors with legal business. By 1800, the town counted about 1600 residents.
Deposits of fine white marble were discovered to the north and west of the town in the 1830s. The quality of the stone soon drew favorable comparisons with the famous marble found at Carrara in Italy. Uncovering the deposits, cutting the marble blocks, and transporting the stone to receptive markets proved labor intensive and difficult, and it was not until the arrival of the railroads in the 1850s that the industry truly flourished. The railroads allowed the marble to be efficiently transported to New England ports at reasonable cost. Taking into account nearby Castleton’s important caches of slate, western Vermont contributed greatly to the construction needs of a growing nation.
In 1843, the state legislature chartered the Champlain and Connecticut River Railroad to connect Rutland and Burlington. Before construction even began in 1847, the company changed its name to the Rutland and Burlington Railroad to more accurately reflect its market. By December of the following year, the line was completed from Bellows Falls on the Connecticut River via Rutland to Burlington on Lake Champlain. At Bellows Falls, important rail connections were made to Boston, which was New England’s primary international port. Post-Civil War, the Rutland and Burlington Railroad reorganized and became the Rutland Railroad. Over the next seven decades, except for a short period from 1896-1904, the railroad would be leased by its principle competitors, including the Central Vermont Railroad and Cornelius Vanderbilt’s New York Central system.
The Rutland Railroad maintained its headquarters and a rail yard in its namesake city. As often happened in older communities, the arrival of the railroad caused Rutland’s business center to shift westward across Main Street in order to be near the depot and freight houses. Center and Washington Streets were soon extended to the depot grounds, and a new retail and office district developed across from the station. Appropriately termed “Merchant’s Row,” the fashionable shops, offices, and hotels were partially buffered from the noise and smoke of the rail yard by a verdant park that extended along the street.
Glancing at an 1884 map and a collection of historic photographs, the extent of the Rutland Railroad’s facilities can be understood. A two-story brick depot facing Merchants’ Row was erected in 1853-1854, and its prominent six bay façade boasted large arched windows on the second floor. The building was topped with a gabled roof that also sported cross gables; the wall surfaces of the end gables were decorated with wood trim that featured large, centrally placed circles. To protect passengers from inclement weather such as winter snows, a canopy supported by brackets wrapped around the building between the first and second floors.
Travelers entered through the main doors into the passenger waiting room and ticketing area before proceeding through the building to access the train shed. Trains passed through one of the four arched portals to access the interior platforms. As the city grew, more space was needed and in 1905-1906, wings were added to the north and south of the depot. The building served Rutland until passenger service ended in 1953, and two years later it was demolished.
South of the station, tracks ran to a car house and a freight depot, while to the west stood a mechanical shop for the repair and maintenance of locomotives and other equipment. A large roundhouse capped by a broad dome with a lantern dominated the yard; to its south was a smaller engine house with a turn table. Ancillary structures included covered coal bins and wood sheds.
Rutland quickly became the hub of southern Vermont’s rail network through connections with the Bennington and Rutland, Delaware and Hudson, and Central Vermont Railroads. Many of these lines were leased or controlled by major New England rail companies, and thus provided connections to coastal New England, southern Quebec, the Hudson River Valley, central New York, and northeastern Pennsylvania. By 1900, more than a thousand residents worked for the railroads.
After the Civil War, America developed into a world industrial power. Besides the marble companies and railroad, Rutland’s other major employer was the Howe Scale Company whose headquarters complex was located south of the rail yard on what is now Scale Avenue. The business moved from nearby Brandon because it was able to obtain a 17 acre plot that sat between the wye formed by the Central Vermont and the Bennington and Rutland Railroads. Needed materials were shipped in while the finished industrial scales—purchased by companies on every populated continent—could be easily shipped out to the nation’s ports. At its height toward the end of the nineteenth century, the workshops employed more than 500 skilled workers.
The growth of the town caused administrative and governance problems that came to a head in the 1880s when it was proposed to divide the settlement into smaller units. In 1886, the marble quarry and mill areas to the north and west were separated from the governmental and business core of Rutland. The two new towns took the names of West Rutland and Proctor. Six years later, Rutland itself would further divide into Rutland City and Rutland Town.
Marble remained the primary economic engine of the neighboring towns well into the twentieth century. Those interested in the industry may take a ride to Proctor to visit the Vermont Marble Museum. In addition to exhibits that explore the geologic forces that create the durable stone, the facility includes a gallery of marble sculpture and work areas for artists-in-residence. A scenic walkway leads to an old quarry that gives visitors an understanding of how marble was cut from the earth and prepared for shipment. A century of mining has left a large, 150 feet deep hole that is now partially filled with water.
After decades of financial struggle, the Rutland Railroad went out of business in 1963. The activity of the rail yard diminished and soon thereafter the eastern portion of the site was cleared for a new shopping center. Towards the end of the century, rail traffic had increased and it was estimated that nearly 80 percent of the state’s rail traffic passed through town. In response, government and business leaders proposed a modernization of Rutland’s rail infrastructure. In 2005, residents agreed to relocate the remainder of the rail yard to the southern edge of the business district. The old railroad property adjacent to downtown will then be opened up for redevelopment.
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.