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History of  the LIRR Part 1 continued

     The first rails consisted of iron stringers on wood, which rested on stone blocks. The Camden and Amboy Railroad, from Camden to South Amboy in New Jersey, was completed in 1834. In 1831 it obtained the first all iron rails, these being specially made for it in England. The year 1834 is usually considered the date at which steam locomotives displaced horses for regular railroad operation. The early cast iron rails were soon replaced by malleable iron rails, and in 1865 the first steel rails were used in the United States, having been tried out three years earlier in England. Wooden cross sills, now known as ties or sleepers, replaced the early stone blocks.
     In 1832, the New York and Harlem Railroad Company started operation in the City of New York, but the traffic was mostly by horses until a much later date. In 1834, the Brooklyn and Jamaica Railroad completed its line between those two places, and in 1836, the Long Island Railroad commenced operation. It is easy to see that the Long Island Railroad was one of the first roads in this country. It follows that a history of this railroad is essentially a typical history of all other railroads. The Long Island Railroad in 1836 became the seventh road in the United States to use the steam locomotive , and of those now existing, the third. It struggled through those vicissitudes of fortune which beset our early railroads. It experienced the steady growth and improvements that were brought about in railroading. Then came the Civil War, and following it a feverish period of railroad building without parallel in our history. And like many lines, it emerged from that period in very poor financial condition. During the period of reconstruction that followed, in the '80's, the Long Island was fortunate in having at its head a man who led it to unbounded prosperity. When the great modern era rolled around, with the demand for grade crossing elimination and electrification, the Long Island, with new blood infused into its veins, blazed the way. Today, well equipped to handle its enormous traffic, it stands for what is best in modern railroading.

Mr. Reifschneider wrote the "History of the Long Island Railroad" while attending Cornell University. Upon its completion, he submitted the manuscript to President Ralph Peters, who read it with such great pleasure and interest that permission has been obtained from the author to publish the same for the benefit of patrons and employees.


The Long Island Railroad was started at a time when railroads were just beginning to be built in the United States. The first railroad in the world opened for general traffic was the Stockton and Darlington Railway, in Great Britain, in September, 1825. The railroad was a very primitive affair indeed. The railroads before that date had been only tram lines, on which horses drew the cars. Many of them were operated by stationary engines, as at collieries and quarries, for hauling materials from the mines and other similar duties. Some roads were started in Austria in 1829, in France in 1828 and 1831, which were all modelled after the Stockton and Darlington. The next important railroad in England was the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, built in 1830.
     This same year, 1830, marked the opening of the first real railroad in the United States, the Baltimore and Ohio. The roads previous to this had been short tram lines, mine roads, quarry lines, and so forth, as in England. The line of the South Carolina Railroad Company, completed in 1834, was the first road built expressly for steam traffic, the original Baltimore and Ohio being intended for horse operation. The first locomotive built in America for actual service, was for this railroad, in 1830, when it made its trial trip on a completed part of the line. It was built at West Point, and was known as the "Best Friend." A platform car was run ahead of the engine, with a crib of sand, in which a pine wood fire was kept burning for illumination at night.

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