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Edition #251  August 1, 2015

Ghost From a Busier Time

Photographer: Bob Hughes


                                                                                   Photo by  Bob Hughes


Ghost From a Busier Time

I hired out on the New Haven as a signal station operator in June 1968, right after graduation from college.  At the same time my draft status changed from 2S to 1A, but I got a lucky break by enlisting in the US Navy Reserves.  Even more luck found me assigned to my two years active duty aboard USS Intrepid.  The shipís homeport was Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, not far from Providence, where there was excellent service to New York and Boston.

The New Haven had allowed me to keep my employee pass during my military leave of absence, so liberty call usually found me heading into Providence to catch the first train home for a weekend in Stamford, Connecticut.  On this day, I rode from Providence aboard a through train to Washington before getting off in New Haven to catch my connecting train to Stamford. 

I had about 40 minutes to wait, so I decided to explore the nether reaches of the New Haven station.

East of the main station was what was left of the New Havenís baggage handling office.  It was abandoned, unlocked, and had been undisturbed for some time, with the office left just the way it had been the day it closed. 

Aside from the rumble of passing trains, the only noise in the room was the hissing sound of steam escaping into the cold winter air, creating an ethereal fog rising to the ceiling.  The carts stood silently, waiting for their next trip to the baggage car which never came, just where they had been left on their last day of service.

It was a ghostly scene, and I felt like a time traveler.

Nailed to the beam above the forlorn baggage cart were signs for destinations far from New Haven, including Florida, Atlanta Hamlet, Trenton, Savannah, and others. Iíve often imagined what the scene must have looked like as hundreds of thousands of mailbags, trunks, and baggage were carried on this sturdy cart, in service to the passengers of the New Haven Railroad.

On this raw and wet winter day, it felt even colder looking at these ghosts from a busier time.

Bob Hughes

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