A Railroad Station Without a Railroad… until now

Jean and Steve Graham owned a railroad station – in fact, a station with deep historical roots in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

Originally built by the New Haven Railroad in 1876 as part of the line connecting Hartford, Connecticut and Springfield, Massachusetts, the station was once a busy place. Area sandstone quarries provided the railroad with valuable freight traffic, and the station saw a steady stream of passenger traffic as well.

But things change.

Less expensive building materials reduced the demand for sandstone, and improved highways reduced the interest in train travel. By the 1950s passenger service had ended, and freight trains stopped running in the 1980s.

The station, however, soldiered on, even without trains. For many years, the station served as the feed store for local farmers. Then in 2010, the Grahams bought the station with plans to restore it and turn it into a special place for the town. That dream became a reality in May, 2021 when the renovated station reopened as an ice cream shop, looking for all the world like the wonderful train station it had been for years. 

Although pleased with the results of their efforts, a piece of the puzzle was still missing – no trains. No horns. No bells. No clickety-clack. No trains.

Then, on October 16, 2021, the renovated station held its first event – Railroad Days – and the Amherst Railway Society was there to help celebrate. Amherst sponsored a trackless train, Amherst member Dwight Sturtevant brought an N-scale model railroad, and Amherst displayed a 7 ¼ gauge caboose with full interior.

The caboose caught Steve Graham’s eye. It was fascinating in its size and detail. It was perfect for the Railroad Station… without a railroad.

Over the next few months, discussions continued between Steve Graham and Amherst President John Sacerdote regarding a possible sale of not only the caboose, but all of the 7 ¼ gauge track and equipment owned by the Amherst Railway Society. In the spring of 2022, an agreement was reached and Amherst’s 7 ¼ gauge railroad moved to East Longmeadow.

Since then, Dwight Sturtevant has taken over the project as General Manager of the emerging Graham Central Railroad. A storage barn has been set up for the equipment, the first phase of track has been laid, and trains are running again in East Longmeadow – albeit somewhat smaller than the New Haven’s.

We often talk about the Amherst Railway Society as a community of railroad enthusiasts. That community extends will beyond our membership list and the boundaries of our property. Amherst is part of the larger railroad community that includes modelers, historians, preservationists, photographers, and rail-fans.

We are honored to have a working relationship with the emerging Graham Central Railroad, and we look forward to celebrating many more railroad-themed events together.

photos and video courtesy of the Graham Central Railroad and West Mass Drone