I had some time to kill in Manhattan today, so I went to the Main Reference Library to see what I could find about this R.R. There is an absolute paucity of information on this railroad and now I am intrigued.Supposedly there is someone out there who has a map of the railroad that was offered on a CD. I haven't given up yet and will continue to see what I can dig up.
I found two old books which mention the railroad in passing: "Three Centuries, Three Flags" by ACM Azoy (1957) and "Governors Island-A Military History" by E. B. Smith (1913).
A search of the complete New York Times for the period discloses NO references to the railroad and the EBSCO Periodical Index has nothing either. Curiouser and curioser...
Here's what I found:
1. Smith says the railroad was narrow-gauged, with no specifics as to gauge. He also makes reference to the eight mile total length of track and gives the names of the officers in charge of the railroad.
2. Azoy refers to the "new railroad" built on the island and to the warehouses built to store military material. He also makes reference to the expansion of Governors Island in 1902-1912, which was accomplished by building a levee and filling in the shoals with the material excavated for the building of the NYC Lexington Avenue subway line. In that discussion, he makes reference to the use of "three steam locomotives" to haul material for the project. Since this predates the construction of the GIRR (obviously, as it was built on reclaimd land), was there a prior railroad on the island built just for the reclamation project?
3. None of the records has any new photographs. None of the records makes any mention of the maker of the locomotives and the disposal auction record is silent as to the locomotives as well. Where did they come from? Where did they go?