I may secretly be a three-year-old boy. I love trains. Keen readers may recall my history of meeting people on trains, people being writers, that is. Writers are great (very great, she says modestly) but so far nothing beats the train station I left recently in Castleton (pop. 4717), VT, headed for Penn Station in New York.
Yes, there's a train from tiny Castleton to NYC and back every day -- the Ethan Allen. (In case your American history is as rusty as mine, Wikipedia tells us: In May 1775 Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys met in Castleton with Benedict Arnold to plan their next day's attack on Fort Ticonderoga, 30 miles (48 km) west, on the New York side of Lake Champlain.)
And so the train named in the patriot's honor makes its way through peak foliage, along the Hudson, and even has a club car with Kashi cereal. But words can only do so much in a situation like this.
Next I notice the honor-system coffee bar.
And the Rutland Herald waiting on the bench.
A collection of things we used to use...
A quilt of old trains...
And the station door...
At which point, the stationmaster, Mary Ann Jakubowski, showed up to tell the story of this little jewel.
Short version: First used as a train station in 1850, the last passengers came through in the mid-1940s; freight continued to pass through until the mid-'50s. In 1966, Jakubowski's parents bought the building and her father, Cecil Ducharme, opened a honky-tonk piano store there. After her parents died, Jakubowski and her husband, Val, decided to rehab the building -- and appeal to Amtrak to reinstitute service in Castleton. Their campaign worked; they transformed the building to its current quaintness; and service was restored in January, 2010. Today the Ethan Allen leaves for Penn Station around 8 AM and returns back to Castleton around 8:30 at night.
And then...I, and about a dozen others, go to the platform and watch the train come in:
Very sweet. And for the record, I didn't meet any writers on this train. Instead I met a museum curator... and on the return trip, two friends. Take the train.