In the center of Randolph, Vermont, just down the tracks from the Randolph Depot sits the former Randolph Coal and Ice Shed, ca. 1920. The railroad is no longer delivering coal to Randolph, but the structures sit relatively intact and intriguing.
The rail industry has changed in the past 100 years, but these buildings allow us to understand how important this transportation network was to our country. Whether carrying passengers, agricultural products, timber, coal, quarry products, it was the best mode of transportation at the time. For this reason, towns were often built around the railroad and associated buildings were located prominently in the centers of our cities and towns. Do these rail buildings have a use? It’s hard, as they remain in railroad right-of-way, and often must be relocated. What could a former coal be used for in a new life? Any ideas?
19 thoughts on “Abandoned Vermont: Randolph Coal & Ice Shed”
Love these old railroad-associated structures… I will need to make a stop to see this particular example some day. You’re right, the significance of rail transport in the growth and sustaining of our little New England towns was tremendously instrumental in the late 1800’s and seldom remembered these days. It is encouraging to see that the efficiency of rail is once again being given credence and encouragement. Rail traffic continues to grow and that can only help the revitalization of our railroad corridors, although some heritage sites may no longer be feasible. There were a lot of risks and over-extensions in the heyday.
Just for the record, and with a smile, I would suggest that the railroad did not ship coal out of Randolph, but rather delivered it and it was distributed from the tipples to the users by early trucks… 🙂
Ah, good catch Rich. Thanks for that – obviously it was delivered!
Absolutely beautiful! While adaptive reuse is the most practical way to go with preserving a historic building, I think this building should be preserved for its original purpose. Just like old mills are preserved to show how they work, this coal and ice shed have a lot to show of the original operation.
Interesting thought. Your suggestion makes sense: to preserve for its original use, especially as we do not have many of these intact structures anymore.
Perhaps it could be revived for the use of some kind of surrealist theater or installation art (assuming the interior could be opened up).
Ooh, I like that too.
I love that cluster of buildings photo. This site looks remarkably intact.
It is an amazing site, isn’t it?
A nice and important building in original condition with equipment in place. I talked to the owner about a dozen years ago. The challenge here is finding a use that does not alter the building much. A tough one. Maybe a good candidate for HABS/HAER or other documentation. Without a use it will be gone.
Probably worth some kind of brainstorming session with folks in Randolph.
Brainstorming it is. And agreed, it could benefit from HABS/HAER documentation.
Great stuff—I especially like the first photo looking down the rails!
So far as re-use, in my travels I’ve seen old depots and other rail-related buildings used as tourist centers (this is popular along Route 66, it seems), libraries, Chambers of Commerce, and that sort of thing as well as one used as a bakery and another a fairly tony restaurant. There’s also a very tiny one on the Lincoln here in Ohio serving as an antiques/junk mall. It all depends upon who gets a hold of it—and the municipality keeping their overbearing paws off people’s attempts to save these buildings for posterity by re-use.
thanks, Jen! The depot just down the tracks has been rehabbed into a cafe. The freight station is a transit center. Our depots in Vermont have quite the range of uses, same as you have found in your travels. It’s the more industrial buildings that have a struggle, those built to house machines and not people. Maybe this one has some hope.
That’s great! I’m so happy to hear some of them are finding new life. It has always seemed to me that some of these would make great art galleries or homegoods/garden stores, too.
Worth a visit… As well as preservation. I guess no one burns coal anymore. We still have one in Keene, NH that still distributes coal to a few coal burning people, even through the last freight train ran in 1980. All trucked in not.
Great pics! I’m not familiar with the area but I love the idea of rails to trails with all the abandoned railroad beds turning into recreation corridors with old buildings like this turned into anything from museums, cafes, bike shops or even inns for (in my fantasy dream world) the long distance traveler by bike… or hiker.
Keep up the great blog!
There is a great picture of the Coal Barn in the Autumn issue of Vermont Magazine . Sure hope it can be kept for historical information. Have been to the Depot many times but never saw the Coal Barn. Look forward to seeing it and taking pictures. It would be nice if the State of Vermont would take it over as an historical site.
Thank for the info, Linda. I’ll have to look for Vermont magazine.
It is sad to see the depot gone, it was a piece of Randolph’s history.