Individual Branches

 

Brooklyn to Jamaica - Built 1836 by the Brooklyn & Jamaica RR Co. along Atlantic Ave. from the East River to Jamaica, and immediately leased to the LIRR. In 1860, the City of Brooklyn banned steam power which meant that horse cars had to be used between East New York and the East River. After the use of steam power was resumed in the 1870's, the line was cut back to the present terminus at Flatbush Ave.

Hunter's Point to Jamaica (via Fresh Pond) - The current Long Island City (Montauk) Branch) was actually constructed in three separate stages. In 1854, the Flushing RR built a line from Hunter's Point along Newtown Creek to about the recently closed Haberman station from where it proceeded to Winfield (near where the Port Washington branch diverges from the main line east of Woodside). The route from Haberman to Winfield probably followed very closely what are now Maurice and Garfield Aves. This line was abandoned in 1869 when a new route through Woodside, parallelling the existing LIRR line, was built by the Flushing and North Side RR. Meanwhile, in 1868 the South Side RR built a line from Jamaica through Fresh Pond to Bushwick Terminal at Bushwick and Montrose Aves. From there horse cars were used to get to the ferry at the foot of Broadway. Eventually, the South Side was absorbed into the LIRR in the late 1870's as the Brooklyn & Montauk RR (which is why it is now called the Montauk branch), the old Flushing route from Hunter's Point to Haberman was rebuilt and a connection was made between Fresh Pond and Haberman to form the present ROW.

Hunter's Point to Jamaica (via Woodside) - The present main line from Long Island City to Jamaica was built by the LIRR in 1860 to replace the Atlantic Ave. line after steam power had been prohibited in Brooklyn. It should be noted that, once the route to LIC via Fresh Pond had been completed in the 1870's, this line became secondary to the line through Fresh Pond and it was only when the East River tunnels were built in 1910 that it could truly be called the Main Line.

Jamaica to Greenport - Originally intended to provide through service (rail/ferry/rail) to Boston, this line was completed by the LIRR over the years 1836 to 1844.

Hicksville to Port Jefferson (and Wading River) -The portion from Hicksville to Syosset was completed by the LIRR in 1854; from Syosset to Northport in 1867 and to Port Jefferson in 1873. The extension to Wading River was built in 1895 and was abandoned in 1938.

Mineola to Garden City and Hempstead - The LIRR built a spur from Mineola to Hempstead in 1839 which travelled down the middle of Main Street in Hempstead to Fulton St. In 1872 the Central RR also built a spur from its line to Bethpage at Garden City south to Hempstead a few blocks east of the LIRR's line, also ending at Fulton. The LIRR's line was abandoned from Garden City to Hempstead in 1878, and when a new line (the present West Hempstead Branch) was built in 1893 northward from Valley Stream, the Central's line was moved to the present ROW so that a connection could be made between the two at Country Life Press. The connections from Mineola to Garden City and from West Hempstead to Country Life Press were abandoned for regular passenger service around 1940, but the tracks lasted late into the 1950's and possibly even early 1960's for freight traffic and an occasional reroute (thanks to retired LIRR employee JJ Earl for that info).

Hunter's Point through Winfield to Flushing - This gets very complicated! The Flushing RR (later the NY & Flushing RR) built its line in 1854 from HP eastward along Newtown Creek to Haberman then turned north to Winfield and Flushing. In the late 1860's, the Flushing and North Side RR had appeared on the scene and built their line from Flushing to Winfield which then ran parallel with the LIRR's main line to Woodside and Hunter's Point. This forced the abandonment of the NY&F's line from Haberman to Winfield. In addition, The LIRR built its own line (the White Line - so named because of the color of the passenger coaches) from Winfield to Flushing in 1873. When the various railroads were consolidated in the late 1870's, the superfluous lines were abandoned, leaving what is now the portion of the Port Washington branch from Woodside to Flushing.

Jamaica to Montauk - This line was also built piecemeal, and by various railroads. The portion from Jamaica to Patchogue was built by the South Side RR from 1867 to 1869. In 1870 the LIRR built a line from Manorville south to Eastport, then east to Sag Harbor. In 1879, after the railroads had been consolidated, the South Side's line was extended fom Patchogue to Eastport and in 1895 the final piece was built from Bridgehampton to Montauk. The portions from Manorville to Eastport and from Bridgehampton to Sag Harbor were abandoned in 1939.

Valley Stream to West Hempstead (and Hempstead) - There were two separate lines built by two different RR's over two different ROW's and separated in time by almost 25 years. The first, built in 1870 by the NY and Hempstead Plains RR and eventually run by the the South Side RR, parallelled Cornwell Ave. in Valley Stream to West Hempstead then proceeded to its terminal on the east side of Greenwich St. in Hempstead between Peninsula Blvd. and Front St. This line was abandoned in 1878. The second, on the present ROW, was built in 1893 by the LIRR and connected with the present Hempstead branch at Country Life Press. The portion from West Hempstead to Country Life Press was abandoned around 1940.

Jamaica to Far Rockaway (and Rockaway) - Once again, there were two separate lines built by two different railroads. The first, in 1869, was the South Side's, from Jamaica along the present Altantic branch (via the Locust Manor and Laurelton stations) to Valley Stream, then over the present ROW to Far Rockaway. The line was extended to Hammel in 1872. The second was built by the LIRR in 1872 from Jamaica to Rockaway Junction (just west of the present Hillside Facility) along the present Montauk branch (via St. Albans and the now abandoned Springfield Gardens stations) to Springfield Junction (between Laurelton and Rosedale), where it crossed the South Side, and continued along a more westerly route to Cedarhurst, then on to Far Rockaway. The old ROW from Springfield Junction towards Cedarhurst is clearly visible on maps. Eventually the line was extended to Beach 116th St. in Rockaway. Passenger service was discontinued on this more wersterly route in 1880, but was rehabilitated and double tracked in 1908 but never used (except for possible freight traffic), then was rehabilitated again after WWI and even equipped with third rails, but was finally torn up in 1934.

 

More to come...

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