Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Finding the Station Agent in Newfoundland

One of my favorite New Jersey-based movies is The Station Agent, a quiet independent movie made eight or nine years ago. Some of the early scenes are in Hoboken, but the lion's share of the movie was shot and based in Newfoundland, Passaic County. Without giving up too much of the plot, the primary character inherits an old train depot in Newfoundland and relocates there. The place looks very remote, and the depot was obviously standing unused for many years, weatherbeaten and with peeling paint. A few aging train cars sit unused on a nearby siding.

This, of course, is just the kind of thing I look for, so a couple of years ago I took a drive to find the old depot and get a few snapshots.

Newfoundland had long had a special place in my mind, though I'd never actually been there. My Girl Scout troop used to make the long trip to Camp Lou Henry Hoover on Swartswood Lake, and enroute, we'd pass signs for Newfoundland. At the time I had no idea there was an actual community by that name in New Jersey, and I'd joke that we'd somehow reached the Canadian border. Poor joke, I know. I was that kind of kid.

Station Agent depotMy adult trip to Newfoundland brought me up Route 23, through Wayne and Lincoln Park and northward. Eventually the commercial establishments on the road got fewer and farther between, and the Newark Reservoir came into view. Then I started seeing signs for Newfoundland, and the real search began.

Given how quiet and peaceful the depot's environs seemed in the film, I assumed I'd be wandering around backroads for a good hour or so, but I found the depot very quickly. It's actually just a few hundred yards in from the highway! 

It's also very nicely kept and well maintained with fresh paint and, when I was there, some of those nice house banners. Apparently someone either lives there or uses it as an office, but they keep up the railroad spirit by leaving the "NEWFOUNDLAND" sign on the building for the trains that once stopped there. When I watched the movie on DVD later on, I discovered that the producers had had to rough up the station's exterior a bit before shooting. For once, then, something looks better in real life than it does in the movies. 

11 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting this. The Station Agent is my favorite movie, and I loved the green woods and the old trestle, as well as this charming depot.

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  2. And thank you for reading! Glad I could offer a little extra information on the setting for this wonderful film.

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  3. thanks for posting this. i just saw the station agent last week (and have watched it probably 5 times since!) and was curious to see where it was filmed.

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    1. Glad you found us! It's one of my favorite movies, too.

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    2. Thanks for this reality check. This is one of my favorite movies. I have been able to catch it 3 times. I never get tired of it. I always feel so peaceful when it is over. Wish there were more movies like it.

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  4. Newfoundland actually has quite a bit of history; directly across from the station once stood Brown's Hotel. It is long gone, but the big red barn that once served as a general store is still standing. Contact me if you're interested in learning more about the area (paul at havemann-dot-com).

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  5. Just saw the movie Station Master. Then I got the notion to see if the depot was a real place... and viola here it is! Thanks!

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  6. Watched this movie, The Station Agent over and over. Peter Dinklege was so fantasic. So glad it was shot in NJ.

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  7. H! "The Station Agent" is one of my favorite films. I just re-watched it and happened upon this post. I live in California, but I have been curious about Newfoundland since the first time I saw it. GREAT film , with an A+++ cast. And for those of you who love Peter Dinklage and enjoy more off beat films check out the original, British version of "Death at a Funeral". It's brilliant. And thanks so much for this interesting post! Cheers!

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  8. This movie is also a favorite of my family! Much of "The Station Agent" - the Mill (Mill Lane Tavern), train store (Rails to Cottages) and old trestle (town park along the Rockaway River on Jackson Ave.) - was filmed in Rockaway Borough, NJ.

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  9. Born and raised in Newfoundland here, just over on Cross Rd. actually, so I know all about the area.

    Used to ride the old Morris County Central on weekends when it used to run out of that station, I even worked part time once in a while in the old dining car they used to have there set up as a snack bar, that field right next to the station is where the firemen used to hold their annual summer fair and St. Joseph's church would have a bazaar there once a year too.

    I really miss the place...

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