In a few days, maybe a week, the last remnant of a Wallingford landmark will be headed to its final resting place.
As we reported here back in May, the famous Yankee Silversmith Inn caught fire and was shut down due to the damage that was caused. The owners auctioned off the contents of the restaurant, leaving only the dining car as the last vestige of a once proud establishment on the lot.
Unable to get the town to take possession of the car due to the prohibitive costs of moving and maintaining it, owner Ralph Mesite and his family started contacting various museums, both in and outside of Connecticut. After talking to six or seven others, they finally settled on the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum in Willimantic, situated on the site of the former Columbia Junction Freight Yard. Mark Granville, president of the Connecticut Eastern Chapter of the National Railway Historical Society, said his organization is excited to be getting the railroad car, adding that the cost of moving it to Willimantic by flatbed truck will be about $6,000.
Once the dining car is gone, the empty 4 acre lot will be a prime location for any number of commercial establishments, including another restaurant or a strip mall. The Mesite family is currently in talks with several interested parties about leasing the property. While a new business on the site will help to invigorate the local economy, it will not replace the memories of Sunday brunch or an intimate dinner in the railroad car. At least the car will remain in Connecticut; next time you’re in the Willimantic area, stop by and say hi to an old friend.
The web site for the Connecticut Eastern Railroad Museum is here, and contains driving directions, hours of operation, entrance fees and other interesting information.