Previous Page First Page Next Page

Page 14

History of  the LIRR Part 1 continued

     It then crossed the fields to the present intersection of Oak Street and Woodfield Road. At this point was located Woodfield Depot. The road then crossed Schodack Brook on an embankment still to be seen, and headed straight through the woods to Hempstead. The old right of way is still clearly visible through the Parson Woods southwest of Hempstead village. It crossed Rockaway Brook on an embankment and went along the south bank of the Horse Brook to a terminal on Greenwich Street, just south of Front Street, in the Village of Hempstead. just before crossing the lane known as Little Main Street it sent out a spur across the brook to the Snediker Lumber Yard, located at that point. It took much of the business away from the old Long Island Railroad, entering Hempstead from the north, until, it in turn, was superseded by the Stewart line.
     In 1870 The New York and Hempstead Plains Railroad Company was organized for the purpose of building a railroad from Bay Ridge to Hempstead Plains, with Vandewater Smith, of Hempstead, as President. The following year it was consolidated with The Hempstead and Rockaway Railroad Company to form the New York and Hempstead Railroad Company. The line from Valley Stream was operated from the time of its construction by the South Side Railroad under lease. The line from Hempstead to the easterly end of the Plains at Wantagh was graded, but the rails were never laid.
     This railroad seems to have been particularly unfortunate in respect to accidents. The Terminal at Hempstead consisted of a large shed, into which the trains were run and alongside the track was a driveway for vehicles. One day the engine "W. L. Wood," standing in this station, blew up, but no one was injured. But on February 3, 1875, a serious accident occurred in which four people were killed. There was quite a heavy storm that day which covered the tracks in many places with water. The engine pulling a single car ran from Valley Stream to Hempstead. It was found that the switches in Hempstead were flooded, so that the train was backed out to run it back to Valley Stream. It was going about fifteen miles an hour, carrying officials of the road, who were inspecting the track.

     The right of way to Hunter's Point could not be obtained, so that the railroad had to be content with the terminal at Bushwick. Horses pulled the trains from Bushwick Station at Montrose and Bushwick Avenues through Boerum Street, Broadway, and South Eighth Street to the South Side Railroad Terminal and the ferry at the foot of South Eighth Street on the East River. In 1869, permission was obtained to pull the trains from Bushwick Station to the ferry by means of an improved steam dummy engine. The line from Jamaica to Babylon was opened in October, 1867; east to Patchogue and to the western terminus on East River by July, 1868.
     In 1868 parties interested in the South Side Railroad incorporated the Far Rockaway Branch Railroad Company of Queens County, New York, and built from Valley Stream to a point west of the Village of Far Rockaway. During a severe winter a great change in the shore line occurred after a big storm, a beach being formed some distance out at sea, so that there was quite a large sheet of water between the railroad terminal at Far Rockaway and the shore line. The Rockaway Railway Company was then organized in 1871 and the following year built its line westerly and parallel to the beach for about four miles to the Seaside House at Rockaway Beach. As soon as these lines were built they were immediately taken over by the South Side Railroad. But little of their trackage is embodied in the present lines.
     In 1869 The Hempstead and Rockaway Railroad Company was built from Valley Stream to Hempstead. It left Valley Stream a little more to the west than the present West Hempstead Branch, and headed almost due north to the little farming community of Bridgeport.
     The line then curved over to the eastward, crossing Hempstead Avenue and John Street, where was located Norwood Depot. It then crossed the Pine Stream on an embankment still to be seen some ten feet south of the concrete highway bridge.

Next Page

Updated Friday, March 30, 2001

©2001 The Composing Stack Inc. All right reserved