Versailles Operator’s Shanty
By Robert A. LaMay
years ago, a small six by seven foot wooden structure was located along
the New York, New Haven, & Hartford Railroad in the Village of
Versailles, a short distance from the Village of Baltic, located within
the Town of Sprague, Connecticut.The actual location of the structure
was a few hundred feet east of where the Versailles railroad station
once stood. It was also
during this same period that railroads relied heavily on the telegraph
as the main source of communications.
It was these nimble fingered telegraphers that formed the
mainstay for this form of communication. The Versailles Operator’s Shanty’s
primary function was the communications of messages via the telegraph
operators. Today one can
still see some of the chestnut poles that once had telegraph wire strung
on them. They can be seen
along the right-of-way between Versailles and Plainfield.The
telephone continued to make in-roads into the field of the telegraph.
As such, the use of telegraphy continued its steady decline until
the telephone took over as the railroads main source of communications.
As the result of this change the Versailles Operator’s Shanty
took on a new responsibility and a new name, that of a Block Operator
Shanty. These individuals
were responsible for all activities within their block.
Versailles was strategically located at the intersection of a
split block. The block
territory to the west was Versailles to Willimantic and to the east the
block was Versailles to Plainfield. Mr.
Edward Meyers went to work for the New York, New Haven, & Hartford
Railroad as a brakeman on April 1, 1940.
He worked for the railroad until his death in 1968. During the late 1950s’ the railroad didn’t need the
shanty anymore and was preparing to get rid of it.
Mr. Meyers felt it would make a good addition to his yard at his
home in Franklin, Connecticut. He
made arrangements with the railroad to take it off their hands.
So, with his brother, Elmer Meyers, they had the shanty moved to
Franklin sometime during 1960. The care and maintenance for this structure became the
responsibility of Mr. Meyer’s wife, Elizabeth, after Edward’s
passing in 1968. The
structure was located along the edge of the yard at the Meyer’s
residence, where it sat for the next forty years.
Sometime early in the year 2000, the Connecticut Eastern Railroad
Bob Carlson will present a program on railroading at our December
Bruce Marcus, a member from Manchester, presented a
check for $5,400 to President Joe Cerreto at our annual banquet to be
used towards the purchase of a bearing for the turntable.
This gives us a good start towards getting the turntable
installed and usable. The bearing will be ordered shortly.
Thanks again Bruce.
was approached by Mr. Dennis Meyers, the grandson of the Edward and
Elizabeth Meyers. They
wanted to donate the shanty to the museum.
members made a couple of trips to Franklin during August and September
to prepare the structure for the eventual move to Willimantic.
Finally on the eve of September 13, 2000 the Versailles
Operator’s Shanty arrived at the museum.
It is currently undergoing a complete structural rebuilding. When
completed, the Versailles Operator’s Shanty will once again be an
important example of the railroad heritage of the 1920’s.
This will make our museum a place where people can gather and
relive the golden age of railroading as it was at the turn of the
A. M. (Sue) Calkins, Willimantic, CT