The History & Story of the Depot
Built in 1876
This train depot was originally built in 1876. In its heyday, passenger trains ran a few times a day picking up folks traveling into Springfield or down to Hartford. From there you could catch a train to Boston or New York. Freight trains also stopped twice a day with grain, coal, and other supplies.
The rail was also used to transport East Longmeadow’s much desired brownstone or Redstone, which was mined from over one hundred quarries in town. At one time, East Longmeadow was home to the only brownstone quarry in the United States. Many buildings, such as the famous Trinity Church in Boston and the East Longmeadow Town Hall, used the stone that was loaded onto the trains right at the depot. The depot itself stands on Redstone pillars, which you can see if you walk outside and look under the building on the rail trail side.
In 2010, the country was still fighting its way back from the 2008 financial meltdown when we bought the depot for $10,000. We didn’t want to see it get knocked down by a planned development. We originally offered to donate it to The Big E in 2017 for use in Storrowton Village because it was not possible to purchase the land at that time. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for ice cream and train lovers everywhere!), the Big E folks changed their mind and in 2020 we was finally able to purchase the land that the depot sat on.
Renovations & Pandemic
Renovations to the depot started in February of 2020 and about a month later, so did the global pandemic. Progress nearly ground to a halt, and it became apparent that the original plan of opening in 2020 was going to be difficult. Fortunately the delay allowed some time for an important change, bringing into the plan what Jean has dubbed the “Caboose”, which now houses the bathroom and storage. If looked at from the outside, you will notice that all the trim is identical to the original structure, as are the roof lines, but it is just a little smaller than the original building.
From the Back Yard
The boarding platform outside and the ramp you walk up is all red oak. Each board is two inches thick by eight inches wide. A downed tree in our very own backyard provided all these planks thanks to the microburst in July 2019. Here’s the tree with Jean sitting next to it!
We wanted to build something the entire community could enjoy. From the beginning, we planned to preserve The Depot and try to create a little spot where friends and family could relax and enjoy a simpler part of life.
So please just sit on a park bench or at a picnic table with your family or friends, watch the kids play, have an ice cream, and watch the world go by. And if you want, take a ride on the Graham Central Railroad!
Cheers! Jean & Steve Graham