Any longtime visitor of this site is well aware of my fascination with abandoned infrastructure – whether it be remains of Chernobyl’s “Radioactive Railroad,” or the inner depths of the long-shuttered Union Station in Gary, Indiana. On a recent visit to Massachusetts, I happened to encounter the old railroad depot in Clinton, and was instantly attracted. Though the abandoned rail tunnel also located in Clinton seems to get more attention than the depot, this old shell of a building that was once undoubtedly beautiful is definitely worth a look.
Edited and cropped 1888 Boston and Maine Map, highlighting Clinton. Original map from the David Rumsey Collection.
Once straddling the Boston and Maine and the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroads, these days the half-abandoned depot watches the occasional Pan Am or CSX train go by. I say half-abandoned, because despite the outer look of abandonment – complete with boarded up windows and graffiti – part of the building is in fact occupied. Because one of the rail lines was elevated, the station was dual level – and it seems that it is this upper level that is in fact abandoned. Below, however, a laundromat and a used clothing shop occupy the space. While the laundromat is quite austere, mixed in among the racks of old clothing in the shop next to it, one can observe the original details of the station – including a door labeled “Baggage”.
Historical photos of the depot at Clinton. Photos from the Clinton Historical Society.
Though the area surrounding the station is still referred to by some as Depot Square, it is technically known as Hamilton Square, for a local veteran who died in World War I. Construction of the station itself predates World War I, with the building finally opening in December of 1914, just a few months after that war broke out. Commissioned by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad, architect Robert C. Reamer designed the building, and it is the only noteworthy, extant structure of his left on the east coast. The structure contained two waiting rooms, one for each railroad that shared this Union Station.
One day, perhaps, the building will be entirely restored. Alas, today it feels as if it is trapped in limbo. Despite the graffiti and the boarded up windows, the old Clinton depot holds much promise, if only the right opportunity would arise where it could be restored to greatness. Undoubtedly, it would be a sight worth seeing, and worth a revisit by this blog.