mgordon@bcnnew.com

It's been more than 160 years since trains were first heard chugging through the own of Darien. The first train whistle in Darien was heard in December, 1948. At that time, first-class ticket rates from New York to Darien cost 70 cents. These days, that trip costs $12.25 during peak hours and $9.50 off peak.

The trains were a far cry from the current commuter trains gliding down today's rails. The New Haven Railroad had a water tower at a pond on Five Mile River, which supplied water to the train's engines. In 1894, the railroad company installed water trough tracks. According to the Corbin Document, "these troughs extended for about one-half mile toward Darien, between the tracks, the water from the tower was used to fill the troughs, which was scooped up into the engine tender by the moving train."

There were a lot of changes made that year. A bridge was built over Post Road, and the tracks were raised and widened to allow room for vehicles to pass beneath it. The train station was also moved from its original location on Railroad Avenue, which is now called Tokeneke Road, to its current home.

The water troughs didn't last long. The New Haven Railroad, as it was then called, was the first railroad in the United States to use an overhead electrical service when it began doing so in 1914. The watering troughs that had been installed between the tracks only 20 years earlier were removed a few years after the electric equipment was complete.

The station remained largely unchanged until its $7-million rehabilitation from 2000 through 2002, according to Commuter Rail Council president Jim Cameron.

"They preserved the historic quality of the old station, repainting it to the original color scheme and preserving as much of the original woods as possible," Cameron said.

"There's a lot of that kind of dark, red wood. There are a lot of stations on the New Haven line that look pretty much identical. That was how they built stations in those days," he said. "It's a gorgeous station, and it's a tribute to Darien and its history that it's been as well maintained as it has."