While jogging on the Long Island Green Belt Trail recently, I noticed that part of the path was along what appeared to be an abandoned railroad grade. The segment begins at Stillwell Lane and can be seen in the aerial view below.
I can rule out an abandoned road because it has a long sweeping curve, consistent and gradual grade, and an enormous amount of filling and cutting to achieve that grade. It just doesn't seem consistent with the amount of effort usually put into dirt road construction. I also thought it might be the driveway to a long-abandoned Gold Coast Mansion, but it doesn't seem to lead to any distinct properties.
Through extensive research (Google, Wikipedia, and this site), I cannot locate reference to any trolley or interurban lines that ever ran through the area. The only lead came from the Port Jefferson Branch's Wiki page:
"The line from Hicksville to Syosset opened in 1854. The LIRR later planned to extend to Cold Spring Harbor, but Oliver Charlick, the LIRR's president, disagreed over the station's location, so Charlick abandoned the grade and relocated the extension south of Cold Spring, refusing to add a station stop near Cold Spring for years."
This may be the last remnant of the original LIRR grade from 1854. Unless I'm completely wrong. Anyone else have any ideas?
AFAIK from growing up in Huntington, that is indeed the remaining part of the originally planned grade that was to go through CSH and into Huntington. Once the objections came in, the founding fathers of the RR basically said "Oh well", and planned a new route.
This description from Arrt's Arrchives would seem to support the case being made in the above posts: "The road enters Cold Spring along the west side of the stream and mill ponds." (That is the route shown on Hondajohn's aerial shot.)
Any possibility at may be the grading of ROW between the old CSH depot and the town (quite some distance) for what was to be a trolley line connecting the railroad with the center of the village but it never came to life as it got as far as only having the ROW graded?
I went out and checked the area to try and figure out exactly where the old grade went. Its extremely difficult to see from the aerials, and there were very few clear areas where a good picture could be taken, but I believe this is the approximate route it took. The break in the line in the main park is the area where we could find no evidence of grading. Either it was filled in at some point or was never dug in the first place. Also, we suspect the road was built on the row because the section marked has extremely smooth grades and sweeping curves, whereas the rest is very hilly and tight. At all the other marked sections, we found definite man-made grades and cuts, although they are all extremely weathered and overgrown.
In my experience studying unfinished railroads, it's *often* the case that there will be multiple pieces of grade unconnected, sometimes separated by miles. That's because they would often have multiple crews working on the railbed in different places. They would usually start at a finished road, because that made it easier to bring people and equipment in. For example, the Brookfield Railroad was begun from both ends, working towards the middle, where there would have been a horseshoe curve and massive cut with a road bridge over it. They left that for last, and last never came.
Looks like you did your homework pretty well here. I agree with you that the railroad grade hugged Stillwell Lane and I had likewise concluded that Woodland was the railroad alignment but I could never figure out exactly how to connect them--I suspect what grading might have existed between those points was obliterated over time. Nice map markups. The right of way came in tangent to the curve at Syosset station but I could not find any evidence in this highly-developed area.
I had attempted to find a map in the County Clerk's office in Mineola relating to the so-called Jones right of way but had no luck. I did come across an old map proposing an extension of the Bethpage State Parkway that overlapped the Jones right of way at least north of Stillwell to St. John's Episcopal.
Anybody who wants to explore this should take advantage of leaves down during the winter months. This is still a very undocumented topic which is only briefly hinted at in Seyfried.
There *should* be a map registered with the county clerk's office. It may be filed under a different name, been misfiled, it could have gotten lost, or they could have had a fire (such awful things happen).
Another possible tack is to look at the deeds for the property that the railbed crosses. See if the right-of-way is mentioned. There had to be *some* legal provision for the railroad to cross from parcel to parcel. Either they owned it outright, or they negotiated an easement.
Just need to make a quick adjustment to the route. I was looking through http://www.historicaerials.com/ and found that Woodland Drive was actually the access road to the farm that used to exist at Stillwell Woods. Based on those photos (from 1953) I think the actual route was closer to: