Train Depots

Train Depots

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I recently re-watched the movie, “The Station Agent”, and afterward began fantasizing of living in an old train depot. Finn (Peter Dinklage) is a man born with dwarfism who loves trains, and is willed an abandoned train depot by his elderly employer. I thought that a small, restored train depot would make a perfect tiny house, especially if you don’t mind the sound of trains.

Finn’s depot was filmed at the Newfoundland train station in Dover, New Jersey. I found a few other beautifully designed train depots in the area that have been converted into museums or historical markers.

The train depot used to be a visitor’s first view of a new town as the train they were on came chugging into the station. According to the Railroad Station Historical Society, railroad stations are designated locations along railroad lines to serve the handling of passengers, freight, and other commodities; as traffic control, maintenance, and/or communication centers.

Newfoundland, New Jersey
Newfoundland Depot, New Jersey
Bonegap, Illinois
Bonegap Depot, Illinois
Hoschton, Georgia
Hoschton Depot, Georgia by ChapterHouseInc. and Waymarking.com

Often stations were marked by buildings including depots, towers, and maintenance facilities and almost always by a sign visible from the tracks. The word “station” is often used interchangeably with “depot”, but it refers to much more or less than a depot. The word “depot” is appropriate for a structure serving the public at a station.

We would love to hear of any train depots or other structures near you that would make a wonderful tiny house: a silo, an old train car (a la Maude from “Harold and Maude”), an old barn, a firestation or even a lighthouse.

Ashland, New Hampshire
Ashland Depot, New Hampshire by the Grafton County Historic and Genealogy Society

Oberlin, Ohio

Oberlin Depot, Ohio by Ohio Bikeways

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18 COMMENTS

  1. There was an article in This Old House magazine about an old post office that was converted into a home. IIRC it wasn’t “tiny,” but it was fascinating nonetheless.

  2. Nice Kent. Having 2 degrees in history it’s buildings like this that inspire me to think creatively when I’m designing my tiny home. Too cool.

  3. There was an old train depot building, quite small, in Sausalito, CA. I’m not sure if it was in the original location by the time I moved there, but it was charming. At the time, it was being used as the offices for an architectural firm.

  4. We had a lake cabin when I was growing up that was an old depot. 3 rooms, Kitchen, Living Room, Bedroom. It was 16×36 and built solidly.

  5. “The Station Agent”…one of my favorite movies, no my favorite movie ever! Thanks for this post. There’s a remodeled train station in Talent, Oregon where I live. It has a coffee shop and some offices in it. Not tiny, but oh so charming…

  6. We almost bought a house that had an old train depot in the backyard, and was used as a garage. It was really cool, and was seriously my favorite thing about the house. In the end we didn’t buy it because the house wasn’t right for us and the location was terrible.

    I’ve always thought an old school would be a great house. A one-room schoolhouse would be amazing, and definitely big enough for a house, especially if you added a loft bedroom.

    And on the very, very NOT tiny side, there was a big old high school in my old hometown. It had been abandoned years earlier, but it had so many really great old features. It would have made an amazing huge house, or group of apartments. (Darn asbestos ruining everything!)

  7. How nice and surprising to find my photos used for this story. I have been documenting the stations along the New York, Susquehanna & Western for a while now and most of the stations are long gone. The ones that do survive are in various states of repair- from a fully restored statin in Maywood to the “swallowed” station in Bagota, NJ. Feel free to see the rest of my station photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/estatik/sets/72157607543922458/

  8. Just wanted to point out that the Newfoundland Train depot featured in The Station Agent is located in Jefferson Township, right on the borders of West Milford and Rockaway, about 17 miles away from Dover, NJ (I live right next to the Newfoundland station.) It’s a lovely little structure located near 2 mid-sized fields, and during 70s and early-80s, the local fire company would host a fair/carnival there. Today, the field is largely abandoned, but there appears to be a small group working to repair and restore the main building, and the few remaining adjoining structures and train cars.

  9. Christina,

    I am the author of six railroad books in print and am now working on another about vintage railroad stations in New Jersey. I saw the photos of the railroad stations at Wyckoff and at Newfoundland, NJ and, although I have others of the same sites, these are the best I have seen of the two places. I ask: were these taken by you and, if so, will you give me permission to include them in my book?

    I have some photos that might qualify as “tiny houses” if you are interested.

    I await your reply,

    Tony Bianculli

  10. Hi. So glad I stumbled onto this !! I am seriously thinking of downsizing, weighing options of building, renting, etc and have always been fascinated with train depots since I spent my childhood using train travel. I fondly remember depots being open buildings with echoing voices and footsteps and the open concept of them is inviting to me now. I grew up in the Chicago/northwest Indiana area and am on the hunt for depots hopefully in areas conducive for me to live. And if I am fortunate maybe I can get a railroad car with it !!

  11. thanks so much for yr beautiful tiny houses photos, I like them very much esp. bonegap depot above, bcs I could plan any ideas to build small houses fo sale, very simple and so many vantilation that you have thought before you made. Once again thanks for your good cooperation….everyday I always open yr blog, thanks

  12. For Sale: Old Central of Georgia train depot on the square in Mansfield Georgia on one-third acre. All details available from owner: 770-786-9940. If no answer please leave name & number.

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