As a member of a younger generation in the US, trains for me are merely a method of transportation – a means for me to get to work, or to get into the city. I do know, however, that trains were not always for people, but for moving goods (of course there still are freight trains, but they are not nearly as abundant as they once were). Many local areas have identities based upon either the rail, or the items that were once produced there… though in most cases the rail is no longer there, or the items are no longer produced there. Canaan, for example, was known as a railroad town, at the junction of the Housatonic Railroad and the Central New England Railway. Despite the fact that rail service there ended long ago, and even after the historic station was partially destroyed by fire, Canaan still fiercely holds on to that identity.
Other towns hold onto their old identities as nicknames – Waterbury is the Brass City and Danbury is the Hat City. This week we’re hopping back to the Waterbury Branch, to take a look at Naugatuck. Naugatuck’s identity was based upon the rubber industry that operated there, and the railroad used for transporting it. The railroad arrived in Naugatuck in 1849, and much of the town’s success was based upon it, and the rubber. One of the last vestiges of that industry may be some old factory buildings, and the appropriately named street, Rubber Avenue, located not far from the railroad station.
Metro-North’s station in Naugatuck, located 82.5 miles from Grand Central, is the same small variety seen in the other stations we’ve been to on the Waterbury Branch. There is a small bus-style shelter, and there are no ticket machines. Platforms are low-level and accommodate one train car’s door for entering and exiting. Located alongside the station is the original Naugatuck station, which is now occupied by the Naugatuck Historical Society. The station was built in a Spanish Colonial Revival style and designed by architect Henry Bacon. Work on the station began in 1908, and it was completed in 1910. It remains in good condition, and is quite attractive. There is a museum inside, but I never got a chance to check it out while I was there.