By Ed Harris
The Milldale train depot has recently reopened as a museum.
The railroad line that once came through town is now Rails to Trails. Volunteers and officials have long sought to restore the train depot as an attraction for the people that utilize the trail.
“It’s a passive historical site,” Town Attorney Mark Sciota said at a recent Town Council meeting announcing that the museum would open this past weekend. “We have a lot if interest from train enthusiasts.”
Numerous volunteers have helped refurbish the depot. The owners of Southington Paint donated time and materials to put a new coat of red paint on the building. Eagle Scout Scott Casolo painted the inside walls. The Parks and Recreation Department cleaned up the interior of the building.
The items on display at the depot were donated by the Southington Historical Society. The items are housed in display cases built by the Kiwanis Club. The items on display include mostly photographs and text explaining the photos.
One of the photos on display is an autographed Doris Day photo. The depot was featured in the 1959 film “It Happened to Jane,” which stared Day and Jack Lemmon. Though they no longer work, the track handles inside the depot were also preserved as part of the museum.
“It’s been unused since the heyday of the railroad line,” Ken DiMauro of the Southington Historical Society told The Observer in a past interview on the museum. “A train hasn’t come through there since the 1990s.”
DiMauro said the Southington tracks had not been used for transportation since the 1920s, but the depot was used for deliveries for decades afterwards. The last item that arrived by train was a drop forge that was used at the nearby Rex Forge.
The museum is open on Saturdays only, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. A security system was installed to keep an eye on the museum.