Amtrak’s Berlin Station Destroyed by Fire.

The old New Haven Railroad station at Berlin, Connecticut was a local favorite. Until recently, it was among the last small staffed Amtrak stations with an historic structure in southern New England.

My friend, and Tracking the Light reader, Bill Sample was a regular Amtrak Station Agent at Berlin. For me Berlin was like stepping back to that earlier era, when the small town station was the portal for travel. Bill would often help me plan trips and buy the most effective ticket for my travel plans.

The station itself was a gem. The interior retained characteristics of an early twentieth century station, complete with chalkboard arrival and departure information and rotating ceiling fan.

In recent months, the old Berlin station had been closed as part of double-tracking between Hartford and New Haven and related station renovations and construction of high-level platforms. The old building was to be integrated into a modern facility designed for more frequent service.

Wednesday (December 21, 2016), Otto Vondrak sent me the sad news that the old station had been gutted by fire. Media sources reported that the building was a ‘total loss.’

These Lumix LX3 digital photos show the building as I remember it in recent years.

Lumix LX3 photo.
Lumix LX3 photo.
Berlin was once an important junction with diamond crossings.

The photographic lesson is: never take anything for granted no matter how familiar it is. Someday it may be gone without warning.

Tracking the Light posts daily.

7 comments on “Amtrak’s Berlin Station Destroyed by Fire.

  1. So sad to lose such a gem. A lot of work and time to design, build and preserve; easy and quick to destroy and lose, whether by corporate malfeasence (Penn Station), vandalism, accident, neglect, or stupidity.

    A sad example due to stupidity: Charles Ro in Malden spent much money to move a threatened 19th century small station a mile or so down the right-of-way to the tracks in front of his store. A politician who lived nearby considered it an eyesore and a danger (it wasn’t since it was well-fenced in while awaiting preservation), and forced Ro to destroy it. Within the year after destruction, that politician moved out of town.

  2. Thanks for the update Bill. I’m glad you had preserved the photos and artifacts prior to the station’s closure. I have great memories of our visits there. Brian

  3. Yes, of course. December not November. A slip-up on my part!
    I’ve fixed it.

  4. Dave Clinton on said:

    Sad. Wasn’t it December 21st?

  5. Michael Walsh on said:

    What a gem, and what a shame that it’s now lost.

  6. Bill Sample on said:

    Thank you for the tribute, Brian. It could have been worse if the fire had occurred before the station was closed. Any historical photos and paperwork and some other artifacts were removed before closure, including the light fixtures in the waiting room. The Railroad Museum of New England mounted an effort to get salvage rights after the closure but we were told the benches, radiators and the ticket office enclosure itself would be used in the refurbishment program. I think the only items that survived were the radiators and office safe and even those had extreme “heat treatment.”

  7. Curt Gruskin on said:

    Beautiful station sorry it’s gone.

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