St. Albans, VT (SAB)
St. Albans is the northern terminus of the Vermonter. Formerly a switch house, the two-story brick building that now contains the passenger station was built around 1900.
40 Federal Street
St. Albans, VT 05478
Annual Station Ridership (2016): 3,382
- Facility Ownership: New England Central Railroad (NECR)
- Parking Lot Ownership: New England Central Railroad (NECR)
- Platform Ownership: New England Central Railroad (NECR)
- Track Ownership: New England Central Railroad (NECR)
For information about Amtrak fares and schedules, please call 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).
The St. Albans station is the northern terminus of the Vermonter. The previous St. Albans station, a historic structure, now houses professional offices, a photo studio and the headquarters of the New England Central Railroad and stands across a parking lot from the facility that Amtrak uses. Formerly a switch house, the two-story brick building that now houses the passenger station was built around 1900. Simple and utilitarian, the rectangular building provides a waiting room for passengers.
The former station, a large three-story red brick Second Empire structure worthy of a regional railroad’s central offices, was built in 1866. At that time, an ornate brick-faced train shed abutted its western side where the parking lot is today. Trains entered the shed through four arched tunnels at the curvilinear-gabled ends. A tower capped with a tent spire supported the southwest corner opposite the tower on the station. The station has two square towers, one at each of its southern corners, each with two double windows on both sides of the first two floors and four on the third floor. The towers rise above the mass of the building, capped with mansard roofs, at one time having both chimneys and round ornamented skylights.
The front façade between the towers has two floors with double arched windows, and the mansard roof is pierced by three round-headed dormers. Originally, there were fireplaces in every room of the station, so the front façade also had four chimneys interspersing the dormers. The chimneys were removed in 1915 when central heat was put in. The tower on the train shed came down in 1923, and the shed itself was razed in 1963, as it was costing the owner, then the Canadian National Railway, too much to maintain. The local historic preservation society started up in 1970, and they ensured that the remaining building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on January 21, 1974.
The original St. Albans station, a combination passenger and freight depot built for the Vermont Central, was constructed in 1851 alongside two tracks—soon to be outgrown and replaced by the larger structure now standing, with the original substantial train shed. As well as the four tracks, the immense shed provided shelter from the elements for passengers, a ticket office, telegraph service, railway express agency and a restaurant.
St. Albans, which has been the seat of Franklin county since its formation, was chartered as a New Hampshire grant on August 17, 1763. There was no European-descended American settlement until 1785, delayed by the American Revolutionary War; tribes of the Algonquian and Iroquois nations, however, had long occupied the area. Situated a short distance from Lake Champlain, the area has no streams suitable for mills, so the settlers raised cattle for dairy, sheep and horses. St. Albans was incorporated as a village in 1859 and as a city in 1902.
Beginning in 1845, the Vermont and Canada Railroad, controlled by John Smith of St. Albans, extended the Vermont Central Railroad from Essex Junction up to Rouses Point, N.Y. Another extension opened in 1860 from Vermont through the international border into St. Johns, Quebec, providing a lucrative direct link from Boston to Canadian and western markets via the Grand Trunk Railroad.
St. Albans developed as a railroad town, with more than 200 trains a day passing through at its peak. Between 1861 and 1863, the rail shops of the Vermont Central Railroad were moved from Northfield to St. Albans, hometown of the railroad’s president, John Gregory Smith, who is credited with consolidating Vermont’s railroads mid-century—perhaps explaining the grand scale of that station in a fairly small town. The Smith family came to dominate the railroads in Vermont. The station was not the only part of the railroad facilities that developed in St. Albans, as the headquarters also included shops, freight stations, offices and the roundhouse. This main facility of the Vermont Central continued to be expanded through 1923 until it spread across 51 acres. The shops are now part of a National Register historic district, and are still in use today.
By 1894, the Central Vermont controlled most of the rails in Vermont; however the railroads in Vermont were fraught with financial difficulties. In 1896, the Central Vermont was bought by the Grand Trunk Railway—succeeded by Canadian National in the 20th century. Today, the New England Central Railroad has succeeded the Central Vermont, and continues to operate freight on its lines today as part of its parent corporation, Rail America.
The Vermonter is a successor route to the Montrealer, originally a passenger service of the Boston and Maine running between Montreal and Washington, D.C. Amtrak’s continuation of the Montrealer also acquired something of a reputation as a party train, owing to the large number of skiers holidaying overnight on the train. The Vermonter replaced the Montrealer on April 1, 1995 to bring daytime service to Vermont, although it no longer crosses the border.
Today’s St. Albans is not only known for its railroading history, but as a tourist destination. This area, besides producing much commercial dairy, has been famed for its maple syrup production since the 19th century. Visitors arriving in April may have the opportunity to attend the three-day Maple Festival in Saint Albans. Since 1966, the Festival has developed into a multi-faceted celebration, including music and entertainment, tours of sugar production facilities, parades and of course, many, many opportunities to sample this traditional sweet. The festival typically attracts over 50,000 visitors every year.
As a site of historic interest, the town is also known as being the location of the northernmost conflict of the American Civil War. During the war, Saint Albans not only sent its sons to war, it faced attack from Confederate forces—crossing the nearby border from Canada. Twenty Confederate soldiers under Lt. Bennett H. Young attacked the village on October 19, 1864, as part of a plan to incite confusion and obtain much-needed money for the Confederacy. The raiders robbed three banks of more than $208,000, killed one citizen, wounded two others, stole a number of horses, and tried unsuccessfully to burn the town. With Vermonters in close pursuit, the soldiers escaped back across the Canadian border. The Canadians eventually captured and arrested them, but most of the money was sent south before they were finally accosted and only $88,000 was returned to the banks. As they were deemed to have been on a military mission, neutral Canada would not extradite them to the United States, and the raiders finally went free; the incident was deemed a Confederate victory. One of the banks robbed, now a Toronto-Dominion branch, is still standing.
St. Albans sustained a sweet victory on April 15, 1983, during the 16th annual Vermont Maple Festival, when Ben and Jerry’s—headquartered in nearby Burlington—sent ice cream and took part in building what—at 27,102 pounds—might have been the world’s largest ice cream sundae. The event was held as one of Ben and Jerry’s famously whimsical promotions; ingredients included 18,000 pounds of vanilla, chocolate and Oreo mint ice cream; 300 pounds of whipped cream; 300 pounds each of strawberries and cherries; 1,300 pounds of chocolate; as well as similar quantities of pistachios, walnuts, peanuts form former President Jimmy Carter’s farm, peaches and pineapples. The super sundae stood eleven feet tall after five hours of work by an army of school children dressed in sanitary coveralls, hats, gloves, and shoes; the festivities were intended as a morale booster during a recessionary time. First spoonfuls were held at auction as a donation to the local public television station, and the leftovers went to local schools and senior citizens homes.
St. Albans had also been considered for the Guinness Book of Records for the construction of the world’s largest snowman the year before. The 47-foot, 10-inch snowman was constructed on February 12, 1982.
A caretaker opens the waiting room one hour before train departure and keeps it open until one hour after departure. Amtrak does not provide ticketing or baggage services at this location, which is served by two daily trains.
The Vermonter is financed primarily through funds made available by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the Connecticut Department of Transportation and the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
Station Building (with waiting room)
- 7 Short Term Parking Spaces
Number of spaces available for Amtrak passengers to park for the day only not overnight. Parking fees may apply.
- Accessible Payphones
- Accessible Platform
Accessible platform is a barrier-free path from the drop-off area outside the station to the station platform.
- Accessible Restrooms
- Accessible Ticket Office
- Accessible Waiting Room
- Accessible Water Fountain
- Baggage Storage
Baggage storage is an area where passengers may store their bags equivalent to 'left luggage' in Europe. A storage fee may apply.
- Bike Boxes
- Checked Baggage
- Dedicated Parking
- Enclosed Waiting Area
- Help With Luggage
- High Platform
A high platform is a platform at the level of the vestibule of the train with the exception of Superliners.
Self-service lockers are available in select stations for passenger baggage storage
- Long-term Parking Spaces
Number of spaces available for Amtrak passengers to park overnight. Parking fees may apply.
- Parking Attendant
- Pay Phones
- Shipping Boxes
- Ski Bags
- Wheelchair Lift
Wheelchair lift is a platform-mounted lift for loading passengers from low platforms onto trains that do not have onboard ramps.