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Stevenson 1 Railroad Station

Welcome back, Monroe history lovers. This week’s history takes us to Stevenson once again, specifically to the sharp bend on Cottage Street. We’ve been in this area before when spotlighting Louis Goulett’s store. Today’s history is also closely related to Louis Goulett. You railroad history fans out there are likely aware that the New Haven & Derby Extension officially opened and rolled through Monroe in 1888. You may also be aware that Stevenson was named for the New Haven & Derby Railroad’s president, William H. Stevenson whose portrait I’ve included. Prior to the railroad’s arrival, the area was locally known as Zoar Bridge.

The railroad company made it clear they had no plans to erect anything more than a diminutive flag station in the area. In response, four well-to-do residents, consisting of R. S. Hinman, a Miss Stevenson, Charles Gilbert, and Walter F. Bradley saw a unique business opportunity and formed the Stevenson Station Company. They pooled their money and built the handsome cottage-like station you see in our second photo. Here we see the builders putting the finishing touches on the new station. The STEVENSON sign is proudly hung over the main entrance and it’s near ready for its official opening on June 12, 1890. To the left of the station in the near distance, we see the fine home of Mr. Samuel Stevens, which still stands today atop Drings Road.

From its inception, the Stevenson Station Company intended their new station to take advantage of various profit generating opportunities. As it was privately built, owned, and managed, only a portion of the new station building was used to serve the railroad. It also contained the local post office and a store. The upper floor had full living quarters for rent or to be occupied by the Station Agent. The station was an immediate hit with the locals as well as the railroad. In effect, it put Stevenson on the map. And while all this railroad progress was going on, surveyors were seen in the area with an eye on the natural bend in the Housatonic River as the potential site for a future hydroelectric power plant! Mind-bending stuff for the era.

With the arrival of the railroad and a new station established, Stevenson was hot on the heels of Stepney Depot as a growing center for business as well as riparian recreation. The station was the hub, and in short order there was a steady flow of railroad traffic rolling through the area. By 1905, Louis Goulett was spending so much time at the station as the Station Agent and Postmaster, that he decided to move his family into the living quarters on the upper floor. He had just moved in a piano and some furniture, when in the early hours of May 19, 1905, the station caught fire and burned to the ground. It was presumed the loss was from a chimney fire. There was little insurance on the station, which was valued at $2,000.

The railroad surely felt the loss of revenue from Stevenson and immediately took action. The former Monroe Station off Hammertown Road was hurriedly lifted off its foundation and moved by rail to a new foundation built on the same footprint as the station that burned. The replacement station was a functional building but completely lacked the character of the original station lost to fire. The third image shows the precise location of Stevenson 1 and its replacement Stevenson 2. By 1950, Stevenson 2 was gone as well. Only the hole where its foundation was located is visible today just north of the tracks.

I hope you enjoy this week’s historic spotlight on the Stevenson 1 railroad station and the former Monroe Station that replaced it. You’d never imagine today just how much activity the railroad brought to the area. Please share this post with your family and friends, and as always, thank you for your continued support and interest in Monroe’s rich history. Until next time. Next stop! STEVENSON!


Kevin Daly
Historian, Monroe Historical Society
Our Past is Always Present

1 - William H. Stevenson.jpg
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