The (Mystic Railroad Station) was built in 1905 by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad. Today, the Depot serves as a Welcome Center for Mystic’s tourist industry and the home office for the . The station was used as a model for the American Flyer Toy Company for its trains in the mid-20th century. One of these models is on display at the Mystic Chamber Office.
The trains accommodated both passengers and shipping. The original building had elongated roofing on both sides of the main building. These overhangs (or canopies) covered products waiting to be shipped by train, and kept commuters dry (when it was raining) or out of the sun while waiting for the train. The canopies were destroyed in the 1938 hurricane, and never replaced.
The Railway Express operated the shipping for the railroad. Their office was on the right side of the building, one door facing the street, and another door facing the tracks. There were no windows, as a measure of security. There were a number of large wagons, with a long handle to pull the wagon, which would be loaded with products going out and coming in.
Local manufacturers and businesses could bring their products to the Railway Express, very much like the Post Office, the products were weighed and the shipping charges paid.
In the sixties, with new interstate highways, better roads and long haul trucks, the Railway Express became the most expensive way to ship products. Truckers picked up items right at the shipper’s building, no need for the shipper to load vehicles and haul their products to the train station, and the truckers delivered products. The lower cost of shipping by long haul trucks, resulted in less business for the Railway Express, hence they closed all shipping areas, and went out of business.
About the same time, passengers were buying cars and traveling on their own reducing the number of passengers on the trains. Today, we buy tickets online; there is little need for a train station. The unmanned buildings keep the passengers dry and out of the sun, and it’s a place to wait for the train. The stations have to purchase tickets. Some stations are staffed on a limited basis with part-time Station Masters.
Excerpt taken from ”Mystic in the 1950s” by Tom Santos, author.
During the Korean War, in the early fifties, bodies were shipped home by train. Mr. Sam Pettini was the shipping agent, he received the casket containing the body of a soldier, the VFW sent members to meet the train and take the body to wherever it had to go.
When REA went out of business, Mr. Pettini lost his job after 38 1/2 years of service.