the station agent

You know that thing where a book or show or movie will speak to you so strongly that it takes on importance of monumental proportions deep in your soul? That’s what The Station Agent was like for me. I saw this phenomenal film when it came out in 2003. Not sure how that was 10 years ago. It seems like I was just lining up an hour early at the Angelika. Now here I am a decade later after watching The Station Agent a hundred times and obsessing over the town where it was filmed. That town is Newfoundland, New Jersey.

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m from Middle of Nowhere, New Jersey. I’m from the country. We’re talking rural, cows and dirt roads, woods for miles nowhere. So I immediately connected to the setting of The Station Agent. Newfoundland is a small town that’s remote in a very similar way to my hometown. Even the trees looked the same. Newfoundland was portrayed with such sweet nostalgia and old-school charm that I set Something Like Fate and part of All I Need there. Those of you who’ve read both books might have recognized the same setting…and even a few of the same characters.

But guess what? I’d never been to Newfoundland. Until one Saturday a few weekends ago when my BF/soul mate was like, “Want to go to Newfoundland?” And I was like, “When? Today?” And he said, “Yeah. It’s about forty-five minutes away,” all super casual like we were going on a Home Depot run. When in fact he was talking about visiting a place I had tried to get to for years. The train doesn’t stop in Newfoundland anymore. I don’t have a car. One thing about Middle of Nowhere, New Jersey and its surroundings is you need a car to get around. So after doing lots of research, I concluded that it just wasn’t my time to visit.

Until it was.

Susane Colasanti at The Station Agent train depot, Newfoundland, New Jersey

The Newfoundland train depot was at the top of my list. That’s where Peter Dinklage’s character, Finn, moves to after his only friend dies and he inherits the depot. Finn loves trains. He loves walking the right of way along the tracks. He loves the sound of a train in the distance. Like Finn, I’ve always been obsessed with train tracks. The train tracks in my hometown were a symbol of hope for me. They led to the better life I would be living one day. I would stand on the tracks when I was 13, 14, 15, visualizing the happy life I would have one day when the worst part of my life was over. The train theme was another reason The Station Agent spoke to me.

Peter Dinklage and Bobby Cannavale in The Station Agent

Here’s Finn and Bobby Cannavale’s character, Joe, chilling in front of the depot. Which I was determined to chill in front of myself. We didn’t know exactly where the depot was. But I knew we would find it serendipitously. And we did! Bigelow Road, baby!

Susane Colasanti at The Station Agent train depot, Newfoundland, New Jersey

I look calm in this photo, but trust me, I was freaking out. I was running all around like a spaz, pointing out where Joe’s food truck (Gorgeous Frank’s Hotdog Emporium) was and where Finn hung his mailbox and of course the train tracks. And yes, I totally walked the right of way on those same exact tracks.

Susane Colasanti at The Station Agent train depot, Newfoundland, New Jersey

Any film featuring Bobby Cannavale is a winner. You automatically know it will be indie gold. Same with Patricia Clarkson. Who doesn’t love her? Seeing them together in The Station Agent was a thing of beauty. There’s a scene where Patricia’s character, Olivia, climbs into a red train car by the depot. Finn has a meltdown in the same red train car later. How stoked was I to see that the red train car was still there?

Susane Colasanti at The Station Agent train depot, Newfoundland, New Jersey

Leaving the depot wasn’t easy. But we had other fun landmarks to check out from the movie like Olivia’s house and Green Pond Road and the Good to Go Deli (which we didn’t find). We also visited Echo Lake and Green Pond since they were featured in Something Like Fate. The area is just as beautiful as I pictured it while I was writing the book. There was even a house on Old Lake End Road that looked exactly the way I was picturing Lani’s house. It was as if I could see the house in my mind even though I’d never been there in person. We snuck a sand sample from Green Pond for my sand collection. The whole trip was awesome. And it was all possible because my BF/soul mate knows me so well.

Train tracks will always symbolize hope and endless possibility to me. Whatever symbol you carry in your heart, may it help you stay strong and always dream big.

Peter Dinklage, Bobby Cannavale, and Patricia Clarkson in The Station Agent

31 thoughts on “the station agent

  1. What a great film, I watched it after reading an article about Peter Dinklage in Esquire. The acting of Canavale and Dinklage was superb as well as Clarkson. A true look at the importance of friendship.

  2. I found this blog post by searching for The Station Agent and was delighted to see the depot and train car exist. How very cool! I’m so glad you decided to visit and pot about it. Thanks!

  3. Pingback: fun fact and a book 3 | Susane Colasanti – Blog

  4. I’ll look for your books; I’m a retired librarian from Philly. We have some small branches, but not as cozy-small as the one in the movie. And Michell, as sweet as she is, couldn’t quite go to work in Philly in her movie outfit.

  5. One more time. I thought you should know, considering our affection for train stations (and their agents), I live one-half hour away from the Amtrak Deland Station. If any station is similar to the one in the movie, it is the Deland Amtrak station. An old Victorian building in the rural
    countryside. It is a bit bigger, and perhaps the amenities are greater, but it reminds me so much
    of Newfoundland. A rural winding road takes you to the train crossing where an immediate pull-off directs you into the parking lot. It’s the Deland Station, but it is definitely not an urban station – it is well outside of the city, near the St. John’s River. And across the little road there is a ramshackle bar-eatery call the INN BETWEEN. Could any coincidence be any better? I’ve taken the train to Philly several times and found it an enjoyable ride.

  6. I, too am obsessed with The Station Agent. While watching, again as we speak, I decided to do a search for new foundland train station to see if it really exists and that’s how I found this. Thank you for writing this and for the pictures! There IS something truly special about the movie. Yes, I too love Peter Drinklage, Bobby Cannavale, and Patricia Clarkson! I’m going to put it on my bucket list to visit the station now that I know it exists!

  7. I loved the film as well and have seen it dozens of times. As it turns out, I’m watching it right now on HBO. I’ve been to several of the Rockaway, NJ locations. I used to get my haircut at the barber shop next to The Golden Spike (now called “Rails to Cottages”) where Finn works on the slanted Main Street in the opening scene. The owner of the barber shop said that there was some filming in his shop, but none of it made it into the final film. I’ve been to the Mill Lane Tavern which is within walking distance of The Golden Spike and the Rockaway River where Finn and Joe watch trains go over a small bridge. It has the feel of a bar from a different era, just like it was in the film. My favorite line – “I wanted to live near Joe.”. Great cast nicely rounded out by John Slattery.

    • I still have not been able to get there! When I do make the trek, I’ll want to be prepared and have a plan and a route. This blog continues to be helpful. I hope to be able to get in the station building. See my post above…yes an amazing movie about true friendship and compassion! There is something about it that is hard to express into words. So many emotions and profound scenes between the characters. I have and continue to watch it and have lost count!

      • I feel you. And I still think you should try calling the studio to make an appointment! The Station Agent means so much to you, and I know as a fellow enthusiast visiting the station was one of the highlights of my entire life. The evocative tone of the film resonates all around you when you are there…the energy is radiant. I think a visit is your destiny 🙂

    • …..and the scene where Olivia suddenly had to leave after watching Joe play with the little boy who reminder her of her lost son….Finn’s reaction to that and the look on his face!!!

  8. I love the movie, too. Great cast, and nice to see New Jersey. Do you happen to know where the red trestle is where they stopped and ate beef jerky? I’d like to walk that if it’s still there.

  9. HI: I Finally made it to Newfoundland! It was amazing following the footsteps from scenes in the movie. We found Olivia’s House, (from a distance as it is a private road), the railroad crossing, waiting / watching for trains trestle, Golden Spike Shop, Mill Lane Tavern, The Library, “Good To Go” Deli which is now The Green Pond Grill, and of course, The Station! It was closed but soooooo nice to be there! Now I have to see the movie again LOL.


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