• Rockaway Beach Branch - Historical Operations

  • Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.
Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.

Moderator: Liquidcamphor

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  by Clemuel
 
Just a few notes about all Rockaway -- a place near and dear to my heart:

Hammels was at Beach 84th Street. The old LIRR substation there, site of the world's largest battery, still survives at the wye.

It was at Beach 84th Street that the LIRR's Ocean Electric trolleys (which traveled on the LIRR's tracks from Far Rockaway) left to go down the streets to Neponsit. This all ended in 1928.

The LIRR's original electric car shop, which was similar to old Dunton, was raised about fifteen years ago. It was in Rockaway Park.

The new (1955) LIRR Far Rockaway station was originally set on a low hill, as the street was depressed and the tracks traveled over Nameoke Avenue. The street has been regraded and the station is no longer on the hill.

Just east (railroad north) of the Far Rockaway building, a jog in the chain link fense marks the old site of ROCK Tower.

Many of the former LIRR stations on the beach were named after the property owners who donated the land. This is why, almost 90 years after street names were changed to numbers, the stations still carry names. Holland, Frank Avenue, Gaston Avenue -- etc.

The railroad operated three tracks between Far Rockaway and Hammels untill the grade crossing were eliminated in 1939. One track was for the trolleys.

Trains operating from Jamaica to New York via Hammels changed numbers from eastward to westward at Arverne.

In know this is probably more than anyone wishes to know, but I had to tell someone!!

Clemuel
  by dukeoq
 
Clemuel
Tell us more about trains leaveng Jamaica to Penn via Hammel and changing directional designations at Arverne.
JJ Earl
  by Clemuel
 
Mr. Earl

Oh yes, I remember many a summer afternoon working with you...

You were always a tribute to the Carrier who employed you and a true Railroad professional.

What you seek on the "around the horn" Rockaway stuff is the fodder of the old timetables. Some service terminated at Far Rockaway, while other trains continued through to the cross bay operation, changing numbers and direction at Arverne.

Thus Cedarhurst's main station building on the eastbound side of the tracks (the route over the bay to New York was shorter than the route through Valley.)

Another interesting lost piece of the Railroad was the old Cedarhurst Cut-off. Wow, that's obscure stuff. For some history, and anyone can correct me if I get careless here,--- Competing railroads ran to Far Rockaway: The Long Island and the South Side. The South Side followed the Atlantic Branch through Laurelton and Rosedale and on through Valley. You may remember some old timers (ie New Haven Harry) calling that part of the Atlantic "The Old Southern Road". It went to Far Rock as it does today.

The Long Island followed the Montauk Branch (St Albans, Springfield Gardens) and dropped straight down across Sunrise Highway, through whats now Brookville Park and across the North Woodmere Meadows to join up and parallel the Southern Road at Cedarhurst. There's still that kink in the tracks at the station where the right of way shifted.

In crossing the meadows, it passed over three trestles, the longest one some 90 feet. There's no sign left of them today. The branch was even electrified!

The Long Island then went down parallel to what's now Beach 21st Street to a place called Elderts' Grove. If you're real old, you'll remember that as a siding called the Grove Track.

After the Long Island absorbed the South Side, there was no need for two passenger stations at Far Rockaway. The Long Island one, from the Grove was loaded onto a flat car and moved to -- get this-- Syosset.

That building still serves today, hidden under a brick veneer. It's probably the oldest or second oldest station on the line, predating Hewlett and perhaps Stony Brook.

How's that for history???

Clemuel

  by Dave Keller
 
The Syosset station was, indeed, the old 1872 building that was at Lockwood's Grove in Far Rockaway. And, true, it was moved by flatcar to Syosset when the Lockwood's Grove stop was discontinued in September, 1877.

This depot was greatly remodeled in 1944, as was done to Cutchogue, Jamesport and Mattituck.

There has always been a rumor circulating that today's depot is the old one after remodeling, however . . . .it isn't true.

The ex-Lockwood's Grove depot was demolished in 1948 and the present day, smaller, brick depot was opened the same year.

Dave Keller

  by dukeoq
 
Clemuel
Explain
Mr. Earl

Oh yes, I remember many a summer afternoon working with you...
Bring me up to date on what you mean by this.(my e-mail address is listed)
And Dave: Thanks for the comments.
It's this kind of thing that this site really needs more of.
JJ Earl
  by Clemuel
 
Dave,

Thanks for the correction. The Railroad's engineering department lists Syosset as having been remodeled in 1948 with no plans on file for the place. Now that stuff is right only 50% of the time, so where did you get the information that the original place was demolished?

Not doubting... just curious and trying to confirm as I'm quite interested in this stuff.

-- JJ - I'll send you a note.

Clemuel

  by Dave Keller
 
Hi Clemuel

My station history data comes from a variety of sources.

The data on Syosset comes from the maps of Bob Emery, a LIRR trainman/conductor and avid railfan/historian who hand-drew maps of the entire system. He was very big on collecting LIRR data.

SUNY @ Stony Brook has all his bound maps with photos and also has a volume of his LIRR memoirs. I have a complete set of his loose maps, which pre-dated his bound ones.

His data, which is written about everything on these maps, is a combination of first-hand experience and the information acquired from men he worked with on the road, all of whom at the time were much older than him. He started on the LIRR in the early 1940s, and at that time, there were men on the roster with starting dates back before the turn of the 20th century.

He meticulously wrote down all he could to preserve the history of the LIRR.

Dave Keller
  by Clemuel
 
Hello Dave,

Well if it's on the Emery maps then it's more accurate than anything in the LIRR records. I recall Bob going through the Road's valuation drawings back when the Engineering Department was on the 4th Floor in Jamaica.

The Department's maps of their right of way consisted of these 1917 (or was it 1913) linen originals which they kept updated into the early 1980's. By following the erasures, you could see what was changed over the years.

I wonder what became of those originals. Maybe they're up in Hillside today somewhere.

I was able to Xerox Bob's Rockaway Branch back when Stony Brook made it very accessible to visitors. I hear that they have since removed the photos from the pages and it's a bit more difficult to view and copy his collection.

I'm not sure if this is true or not.

Thanks kindly for your reply. 'Shame Lockwood's Grove is gone.

Clem

  by Dave Keller
 
Hi Clem:

So you knew Bob Emery. Good!

SUNY @ Stony Brook has removed the photos from the albums and has them archived separately. You can view them, but separately. I believe they make you wear white cotton gloves.

If you wish to photocopy the maps, they will only copy 25% of the given album at one time. If an album consists of 40 pages, they will only allow you to copy 10.

Why, I have no idea. If you were persistant you could copy 10, go back and copy the 2nd 10 etc. until the who album is copied.

Anyhow . . . This is what happens when you leave your collection to an institution.

Bob's loose set of maps consist of one mile per page. The track layout is drawn as a single line.

His bound maps at SUNY are a lot larger, with the tracks drawn as double lines and have much more detail. It takes several of those maps to consist of one mile.

Both sets really are priceless when it comes to data!

Did you know that the LIRR had hundreds and hundreds of glass plate valuation negatives shot in the late teens to early '20s? Tom Goodfellow ordered them to all be dumped. Some railfans heard about what was happening and raced down to Jamaica and managed to retrieve some of the negatives, but the majority were destroyed as they were thrown in the dumpster. What makes you think the Engineering Department would have accurate historical records after a management-authorized debacle of that magnitude?

Dave Keller

  by UN Block
 
Hey Guys,

It's nice too see that several of us have at least seen the Bob Emery collection. Luckily, when I and a friend of mine made trips to SUNY Stony Brook around 1980 or so, they actually used to let us set up a copy stand and we made slides of many of Bob's prints that he had in his albums. We, too, got copies of all of his "pre-album" 8.5"x11" single-line drawings. Though not as up-to-date as the final albums were (1958-9 vs. 1970 or so) they are an UNBELIEVABLE source of information about the railroad. They are like Official Guides; you go to look up one thing and the next thing you know, it's a hour later!

It was from Bob's maps that I started making up databases of various LIRR equipment and data, such as Interlocking/Block Office call letters and names. I believe Dave Keller has done this, also, right Dave? In addition to Bob's precious data, I had the good fortune to be able to go through Art Huneke's collection of LIRR employee timetables, gleaning actual dates of all kinds of changes to the physical characteristics from 1928 to today. Art has essentially EVERY employee timetable that was issued in the 20th century! Unfortunately, the LIRR didn't start the practice of including General Orders in the timetable until the PRR-style started in October (?) 1928.

Still, you talk about another treasure-trove of DETAILED information! I still have all of this stuff type-written on paper. I NEED to get this stuff into some kind of searchable database and given to all of you out there.

Some of this info can be gleaned from the Emery collection but not everyone can get to Stony Brook. Also, as I recall, the Special Collections unit has very limited hours of operation. I know it wasn't open on the weekends even 25 years ago.

  by Dave Keller
 
UN Block:

You are correct about my LIRR Telegraphic Call Letters listing which has been updated just recently and can be found here:
http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirrphotos/ ... etters.htm

I visited my old friend Art Huneke in October when I was on LI for my book signings and we spent hours looking through tower and cabin data, including a search through a scrapbook of general orders from the years 1905-1907 that he had acquired from the attic of the old "BLISS" tower, when it was an actual tower with spiral staircase to reach the office.

These general orders, as you mentioned, were not placed in the old timetables. These G.O.s actually say at the top of each order to "paste this order in a scrapbook."

The Emery maps, along with Art's help, and my own old employee timetables, has greatly aided my Telegraphic Call Letters listing, especially allowing me a listing of the old, numbered towers, and their conversion to letters beginning in 1907 for the towers still in existence at that time.

Put your data down on hardcopy and make it available as I have. I thinks its a shame the some of these older "railfans" have important data and refuse to share it with anyone. Guess it makes them feel important that they're taking these historical facts to their grave.

I think it's a railroad historian's obligation to list as much of this data as is possible and make it available. Otherwise, it dies with the holder of the data and true facts either get lost forever, or turn into incorrect rumors.

Dave Keller
  by Clemuel
 
For many decades, we've delt with collectors who hoard stuff only to watch their widows dump the stuff at the curb upon their demise.

Used to be that the cost of publishing a short-run manuscript kept so muct valuable information from being shared. Today, with print-on-demand publishing and the Internet there's really no excuse to keep this valuable stuff locked up in a trunk under the bed.

And as none of us are getting any younger, it may be considerate to make plans for our own collections; at very least, let our wishes be known st these treasures go where we want them to.

Wonderful work of research, Dave.

Clem

  by Dave Keller
 
Clem:

Truer words were never spoken!

Also, thanks for the compliment on the results of my 35+ year (on and off) research project.

Dave Keller
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