Mansfield Depot Train Station

Lost Mansfield > Mansfield Depot Train Station


By 1849, the New London, Willimantic and Palmer Railroad had completed its line from New London as far as Stafford Springs, providing both passenger and freight service. There were three station stops in Mansfield – Eagleville, Mansfield Depot, and Merrow. This was a true game-changer for the town. Now Mansfield residents could travel near and far with ease and local businesses could efficiently bring in supplies and transport their products to customers. The rail company was reorganized in 1861 as the New London Northern Railroad, and eventually, it was taken over by the Central Vermont Railway.

Mansfield Depot Train Station 1910
This image shows the original train station in Mansfield Depot (on the right) that was built about 1850. The photograph was probably taken around 1910. Note the wagon filled with milk cans in the center of the picture. The railroad enabled farmers to market their milk well beyond the local area. Aside from the train depot, none of the buildings in the photo still exist. (Photo courtesy of Jan McCollum)
Mansfiled Depot Train Wreck
Train wrecks were a common occurrence along the rail line. This accident happened on February 4, 1910 a short distance south of the Mansfield Depot station. Sixteen empty freight cars jumped the tracks. No one was hurt, but eight cars were seriously damaged and a considerable amount of track was torn up. The cause was attributed to a “spreading of the tracks.”

The first train station in Mansfield Depot was built c. 1850 and it served the community until 1928 when it burned down. From this station, the Mansfield Organ Pipe Works received supplies and shipped out innumerable wooden organ pipes. Following the fire, the Central Vermont Railroad replaced the train depot with a new one that functioned until 1959 when the train stop was discontinued. Today, there is only non-stop freight service through Mansfield, operated by the New England Central Railroad.

In 1978, Larry Ross converted the old railroad station into the Depot Restaurant. He later added a caboose to the building, a 1920s-era relic that he purchased from the Maine Central Railroad. The popular eatery was known for its fine food and railroad-themed décor. The occasional freight train that rumbled past added to the atmosphere.

The Mansfield Depot Restaurant
The Depot Restaurant, April 11, 1990. In 1978, Larry Ross converted the old train station into the Depot Restaurant. It became a local landmark, frequented by the community and faculty, staff and students from UConn and ECSU. The caboose was added later to provide more dining space. On July 2, 2003, the main building was destroyed by fire, but the caboose survived, thanks to the efforts of the firefighters.

After running the restaurant for 18 years, Larry Ross sold it to Deborah Netto and Robert Donnell in 1996. They closed briefly for renovations and then re-opened as Netto’s at the Depot. They carried on the railroad theme with the addition of a large mural of a steam locomotive. By 1998, Scott Bergin had acquired the restaurant and continued it, using its original name.

Foundation of the Mansfield Depot Station
The foundations next to the train tracks are all that remain today of the former train station and popular restaurant. Trees now grow from its basement.

Sadly, the Depot Restaurant was destroyed by fire in the early morning of July 2, 2003. Five fire companies responded to the scene. The former train station was a total loss but the firefighters were able to save the caboose. After the caboose sat neglected and subject to vandalism for a few years, it was purchased by the Connecticut Trolley Museum in 2010. It was moved to the museum’s East Windsor site where it was restored and is now used for birthday parties and other special events.

Theme: Overlay by Kaira © Mansfield Historical Society
Storrs Connecticut