The Long Island Railroad
The Long Island Railroad is included as a subject of family interest because of the ties of the Dunton family with both the island and the railroad.
In the late 1800s, the railroad (originally incorporated on 25th of April, 1832, as the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad Company) was financially suffering. A man named Austin Corbin was installed as president of the company and the company was turned around into a profitable entity. His nephew, Fredrick W. Dunton became interested in developing real estate on Long Island in the late 1880s. He was noted as being president of the "Bicycle Railroad".
HISTORY OF THE LONG ISLAND RAILROAD.
A History of Long
Island From its Earliest Settlement to the Present Time
The history of the Long Island Railroad presents features of considerable interest to those who have studied the growth and development of railroads in this country.
Its position is unique in this—that it does not form any part of the great trunk lines, nor does it feed one of them. It is exclusively a local road, serving a population on an island adjacent to the great city of New York. The Long Island Railroad of to-day is the development and outgrowth of many fiercely conflicting interests, and a study of them will explain many things that to the observer of to-day seem inexplicable.
The first railroad chartered on Long Island was the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad, This road started from the then village of Brooklyn, running to Jamaica, a distance of about ten miles. Its charter is dated 1832. The projectors of that railroad started at once to construct the same, and seem to have pushed its construction with commendable vigor. Short as it is, this road played an important part in the system of railroads on Long Island, some of the time dominating the Long Island Railroad, and finally at one time being reduced to the position of a mere spur or branch, and later on in its history becoming again a very important factor.
The Long Island Railroad proper was chartered in 1834, by a special act of the Legislature. At that early day there was no general railroad law, so-called. The Long Island Railroad Company is the only railroad corporation existing Company the State of New York that has preserved its name and corporate franchises from its original charter intact. It is perhaps without a peer in the United States in length of life and preservation of name and charter. Its act of incorporation provided for a railroad to be built from a point in or near the village of Greenport, in the county of Suffolk, and extending from this along the most practicable route through or near the middle of Long Island to a point on the water's edge in the village of Brooklyn, county of Kings, and to a point on the water's edge in the village of Williamsburg, in the last named county. Its charter provided a scheme for absorbing the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad, which had been chartered only two years before. The dominant idea of the incorporators seems to have been to adopt the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad either by purchase, or in some other way, as a part of its line of railroad, running the entire length of Long Island. One of the first acts of the Long Island Railroad Company was to lease the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad in 1835, at a rental of $33,000 per annum for forty-five years, being ten per cent. on the cost of the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad. In 1836 they adopted the location of a line from Jamaica eastward as far as what was then called a point on the Jericho road, now Hicksville, and at the same time adopted a map of location from Bedford to Williamsburg, on the water's edge.
The company proceeded at once, with such vigor as they could command, to construct the road from Jamaica to Hicksville, but owing to the hard times that were then reaching the culmination in the great disaster of 1837, the progress of the work was slow, and they found great difficulty in collecting their assessments and raising the means to pay the necessary expenses. They also found the burthen of the lease of the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad to be very great, and that it was sapping their resources in ready cash to their very serious embarrassment. There soon broke out a controversy between the Long Island Railroad Company and the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad Company, touching the onerous terms of this lease, the Long Island Railroad Company sometimes pleading with the directors of the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad, and sometimes threatening. They were often behind in paying their rent, until finally there was a substantial modification of the same, and no abandonment of the leased line by the Long Island Railroad Company ever occurred.
A few words with reference to the location from Bedford to Williamsburg will dispose of that contemplated line. It seems, that a little work was done on the line, and according to the minutes of the Company, it was occasionally referred to by the directors, but it was never completed, and whatever was done on it seems to have disappeared from the history of the Long Island Railroad, and the whole scheme was abandoned.
The Long Island Railroad Company was engaged in a struggle to build the line from Jamaica to Greenport. By March, 1837, they had succeeded, in constructing a single track from Jamaica to Hicksville, a distance of about fifteen miles. This work was completed in the very crisis of the financial embarrassments of that time, and on April 5th of that year all work was suspended on the line east of Hicksville, and also on the Williamsburg branch.
The following time table appears in the minutes of the railroad, and the same, in this exact form, was issued on a card:
LEAVE LEAVE LEAVE
HICKSVILLE. JAMAICA. BROOKLYN.
8A A- M- 9 A. M. 10Y2 A. M.
I P. 11I. I Y4 P. M. 3Y, P. M.
This time table is recorded here as a curiosity, illustrating the crude ideas of railroading and railroad time tables that prevailed at that time. It will be observed that the time of the trains is given at only one intermediate station between the terminals. The fair presumption is that whoever wished to board a train at any other station could drive there and guess at the time when the train should arrive, guided only by the time of departing and arriving at the terminals.
According to the engineer's report at this time, there were only three engines on the road, named, respectively, Ariel, Postboy and Hicksville. The first collision referred to on the island was between the Ariel and Postboy, which the engineer reports as a case where they "came in contact" and were considerably damaged. He recommended that another engine be purchased. If, however, another engine should not be purchased, he then recommended that the number of passages per diem be reduced. In 1838 the subject was taken up by the board, and a committee was appointed to report on the purchase of a new engine. The company seems then to have been in the very depths of its financial troubles. In May, 1838, the committee on purchasing an engine reported against making the purchase, but stated that they could "borrow a crank axle and wheel for temporary use" until new ones could be made for one of the disabled engines. If this record of the expedients of that date provokes a smile, we can only say that it marks the great advance that has been made in railroad methods and railroad ideas up to the present day.
At this time the position of the company was exceedingly unsatisfactory. It was embarrassed by constantly accumulating rents of the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad, and its line was not completed so that the company could avail itself of the supposed advantages of its charter to run to Greenport, as a part of a through line to Boston. The men of those days set to work earnestly to find the ways and means to complete the road. There were fierce contests between the stockholders at elections for directors, and on two occasions elections were set aside by the courts for irregularities. At almost every meeting of the board resolutions were passed forfeiting the stock of stockholders for non-payment of assessments ; but through all this turmoil the corporation lived on, and finally fell into the hands of a class of men of more financial ability, who succeeded ultimately in completing the road.
In 1838 they began an agitation to secure a loan on the credit of the State to assist the company, and in 1840 the State did loan its credit for $100,000 of State stocks. In 1838 the company also succeeded in getting a reduction of the rent of the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad from a ten per cent. basis to a six per cent. basis. It is curious to note in passing that prior to the State loan the Morris Canal & Banking Company, of New Jersey, had recovered a judgment of about $60,000 against the corporation, on account of loans it had made. This judgment was assigned to the commissioner of certain funds of the State of Indiana, supposed to be school funds, so that at this early date the State of Indiana was a creditor of the Long Island Railroad Company for the large sum of $60,000 After the State loan was obtained, this judgment was liquidated about the year 1840.
In 1836 the Legislature authorized the Long Island Railroad Company to build a branch from some convenient point on its main line of railroad to some proper place or point in the village of Hempstead. In 1838 they surveyed a branch line in pursuance of this act of the Legislature, which was subsequently built, and known as the Hempstead branch, running from what is now Mineola to the village of Hempstead, a part of which track is still in use, as will be hereafter more fully explained.
In the year 1840 the resumption of the work of construction was commenced from Hicksville to Greenport, and after various struggles and disappointments the road was finally completed and opened to Greenport on the 27th day of July, 1844. It is plain that there was new life and greater financial ability infused into the direction of the road, as new members appeared in the board of directors. Among the directors who were then or have since become famous in the affairs of the country were the names of Jacob Little, George Law and Cornelius Vanderbilt.
When the road was completed to Greenport a line of steamers was run from Greenport to the coast of New England, connecting chiefly with the Old Colony Railroad, and by that connection making a through line from New York to Boston. At that time the connections between New York and Boston through the New England States were mainly by steamboat or stage lines. There was no such thing known as a through railroad from New York to Boston, or any other method of transportation at all comparable with the line of the Long Island Railroad, via steamboat line and the Old Colony Railroad. This line, for a short time, was the principal passenger and mail route between New York and Boston, but very soon the opening of direct railroad communication by land from New York to Boston seems to have, so far, cut into the profits of the business done by the Long Island Railroad as to again put the corporation in great financial straits, and on March 4, 1850, a receiver was appointed. So far as, the Long Island Railroad Company was interested in the steamboats, they were sold and the Boston connection practically given up. The railroad now became, for all practical purpose, a local road on Long Island.
The subject of building branches and extending its facilities on the island seems to have now engaged the attention of the management. They were also greatly aided in this by the citizens in communities who were not, as they conceived, sufficiently served by the line of the Long Island Railroad, as then located and constructed. One of the first efforts in this direction was the Hicksville & Cold Spring Railroad. This corporation was organized for building a railroad from Hicksville in a northeasterly direction to Cold Spring. An enabling act was passed on June 28, 1851, authorizing the formation of a railroad corporation under the general railroad act but with relief from some of the provisions of that act. Subsequently the corporation was organized and the construction of the railroad entered upon. It seems to have progressed very slowly. At some time before 1859, the date of which does not appear in the minutes of the company, the road was constructed and put under operation as far as Syosset. In 1859 an act was passed extending, among other things, the time for completing this road. It is well known that a considerable part of the right-of-way from Syosset to Cold Spring was purchased and graded and made nearly ready for laying the track before 1862, but no rails were ever laid on this portion of the line, and it now belongs to one of the numerous abandoned lines. The portion of the road between Hicksville and Syosset now forms an important part of the present Long Island Railroad. For many years Syosset was an important terminal station. The inhabitants from the surrounding country on the north side of Long Island would drive there by private conveyance or stage to take the trains.
A new. difficulty began to confront the Long Island Railroad Company between 1850 and 1860 in another direction. Notwithstanding they had secured a reduction of the rent of the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad, the city of Brooklyn had grown to such an extent that it was believed by the citizens that the operation of a steam railroad through the city down to the water's edge was a detriment to the city and a menace to the lives of its citizens, and they commenced an agitation to have steam power removed from within the city limits. At this time the pressure was very hard upon the Long Island Railroad Company to compel it to surrender the franchise to use steam power in the city of Brooklyn, and, on the other hand, it would be a practical ruin to the company not to have a terminus at the water's edge. When originally built the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad ran in Atlantic avenue from South Ferry to Flatbush avenue, and at Flatbush avenue its right-of-way had been secured through farming lands without any regard to city streets, and ran pretty generally north of the present Atlantic avenue from Flatbush avenue to East New York, so-called at that time. In laying out the streets of the city, the corporations interested were induced to surrender their right-of-way that they had secured north of Atlantic avenue; and to have the rails placed in the present Atlantic avenue as laid out by the city authorities. Another object of this scheme also was to have the use of steam power on the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad surrendered within the city limits, but, before these rights were surrendered the interests of the Long Island Railroad Company were safeguarded by provisions for opening a new line to the East River from Jamaica to what was then called Hunter's Point, now Long Island City. To effect this purpose the New York & Jamaica Railroad Company was organized about 1857, and constructed a railroad from the terminus of the Long Island Railroad in Jamaica to the water's edge at Hunter's Point, and when ready for opening the trains of the Long Island Railroad, instead of running over the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad into the city of Brooklyn, turned off at Jamaica and were brought to Hunter's Point. This diverted the main line of travel on Long Island from the city of Brooklyn to the new terminus. This new line was opened in 1860. About the same time its property, corporate rights and franchises were acquired by the Long Island Railroad Company. From that time the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad was run as a branch road between Jamaica and East New York. The effect of this readjustment was to take the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad out of the main line of travel, and reduce it to a road of very insignificant importance, so far as its steam traffic was concerned. The Long Island Railroad Company continued to operate this road as a branch until it was again made to assume an importance which will be hereafter noted.
On April 14, 1863, there was another change in the management of the Long Island Railroad. Oliver Charlick* and his associates were elected directors. They were a new set of directors, with new ideas and new policy. Their policy was characterized with considerable vigor, but they seemed to be actuated solely by the desire to make money, rather than to, conserve the convenience of the citizens of the island, or to promote their interests. This policy nearly ruined the Long Island Railroad Company. In a very short time there sprang up between the railroad corporation and the citizens antagonistic feelings, which resulted in great changes in the railroad map of Long Island.
[*Oliver Charlick, for many years a most potent figure in the stormy sea of New York City's politics, was born near Hempstead in 1813. He received his business training in the establishment of Gardiner & Howell, wholesale grocers, New York, and when that firm failed he went into business on his own account. The great fire of 1835 wiped out his store, but he soon re-established himself; and as a grocer and shipchandler built up a large and profitable business.
In 1843 he made his first prominent entry into politics, when he was nominated and elected Assistant Alderman of New York's First ward, on an independent ticket, and he afterward become Alderman. As president of the board during the latter part of his term he frequently acted as Mayor of the city, during the absence of Mayor Havemeyer. In 1849 he went to California and engaged in business there for some eighteen months.
Returning to New York he entered upon the work of constructing the Eighth Avenue street-car line and ran it successfully for seven years, recouping the stockholders their original capital and paying regularly a dividend of twelve per cent. In 1860 he gave up his street car interests and devoted himself to steam railroading and became active in the management of several lines in and around New York. It is with the management of the Long Island Railroad, however, that he is best remembered, in this connection. In later life Mr. Charlick again became prominent in New York City's politics, and as a member of the Board of Police Commissioners his name was actively bandied about at a time when deals and dickers formed the professional politician's stock in trade in New York. He had hosts of enemies and troops of friends; by the former he was denounced for having committed practically every crime in the calendar; by the latter he was credited with brains, smartness and inflexible honesty.
However, all that may be, it is certain that his career as a politician did not add to his personal reputation, nor has it won for his memory the regard which is paid even to that of a respectable mechanic.]
It may not be amiss at this time to take an account of stock, and for those who are interested, to look at the map of Long Island and see the exact position of the railroads at that date. The Long Island Railroad Company had a main line running from Greenport to Hunter's Point on the East River. It also had a branch from Mineola to Hempstead, and a branch from Hicksville to Syosset. It was also operating that part of the old Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad between Jamaica and East New York by steam power. This was the entire mileage of the Long Island Railroad in 1863.
Prior to 1863 the scheme of building a railroad from Mineola to Locust Valley seems to have been agitated by the citizens along that line and the Long Island Railroad Company, and to have culminated in a paper railroad, which was never built. After Oliver Charlick was elected president of the Long Island Railroad Company, and in May, 1863, the board brushed aside this paper organization and voted that it was expedient to build a road from Mineola to Glen Cove. Soon thereafter the Long Island Railroad Company took measures to construct the road, and on September 17, 1863, executed a mortgage on that branch for the purpose of providing the means for its construction and completion. The date when this branch was finished and opened does not appear in the minutes of the company, but it was probably about the year 1864 or 1865. The road as originally constructed still remains in active operation.
For several years after 1863 there was nothing done in the way of railroad construction on Long Island that was antagonistic to the interests of the Long Island Railroad Company. There did grow up, however, a feeling of great tension between citizens and property owners on the island and the railroad company by reason of the non-progressive management of the corporation. On can hardly resist speculation as to what would have been the systems of railroads upon the Island or what would have been the effect upon the Long Island Railroad property, had there been a liberal and progressive administration of the railroad's affairs at that time.
For several years after 1863 the people traveling from the south side of Long Island, and from many parts of the north side, would drive to the middle of the island to meet trains. In those days there was a very considerable activity around all of the stations on the main line between Farmingdale and Riverhead, where now it seems so dull and lifeless. The attractions of the shores of Long Island were such that, notwithstanding the inconvenience of access, population increased so rapidly that a time finally came when, despairing of having their reasonable wants met by the Long Island Railroad Company, a series of railroad constructions began that were antagonistic to the Long Island Railroad Company, and which continued for several years, with the result of almost destroying all railroad property on the Island, the new with the old. The history of this contest will explain very much that is hard to understand in the tangled web of corporations, railroad tracks and abandoned tracks on Long Island.
It is necessary now to retrace our steps and dates a little for the purpose of recording the history of a railroad that has been a very considerable factor in the railroad contests on Long Island. The Flushing Railroad Company was organized in 1852, to build a road from Hunter's Point to the village of Flushing. This road was soon thereafter constructed, and was an outlying piece of road, serving only the wants of a local community, and apparently in no way related to the Long Island Railroad. Its location was from Main street, in the village of Flushing, to Newtown Creek, and thence along the northerly side of that creek to the East River. The location of its terminus on East River was in about the middle of the large lumber yard south of the present Long Island Railroad depot. That land was under water and had not then been filled in, and there was a pile dock out for a considerable distance to get sufficient depth of water for the landing of a small steamboat. The passengers were brought down by rail to this dock, and there they embarked on board a small steamer that landed them at Fulton Ferry. This method of transportation continued for a number of years. When the branch of the Long Island Railroad was built from Jamaica to Hunter's Point it crossed this old Flushing road at Winfield at nearly right angles to that line. The Flushing Railroad was not successful financially, and about 1858 a first mortgage on its property and corporate franchises was foreclosed, which resulted in the title passing to a new corporation, called the New York and Flushing Railroad Company, organized in 1859. The new corporation continued to operate this road about the same as the old one had done, but its management was about as bad as any management could be, and the service was totally inadequate to the wants of so large a community as that residing at Flushing and in the adjacent country. The line of this road having been crossed by the main line of the Long Island Railroad at Winfield made the road a property desired by the management of the Long Island Railroad. It was well understood that they had negotiated with the owners of the New York and Flushing Railroad and tried to acquire the property, but were unsuccessful for many years. The citizens of Flushing and vicinity, chafing under the bad service oŁ the New York and Flushing Railroad, were stimulated to secure an outlet in some other direction. The management of the Long Island Railroad encouraged this sentiment with promises of aid over another line, and it resulted in the organization of a corporation known as the Flushing and Woodside Railroad Company. The line of this road was located from the Bridge street station, in the village oŁ Flushing, to Woodside, on the line of the Long Island Railroad, the intention being to have a through line from Hunter's Point to Flushing over this route. Work was actively commenced building the division between Woodside and Flushing, and the same was about half completed when the owners of the New York & Flushing Railroad, discovering that there was to be an active competitor in the field, sold their stock to the management of the Long Island Railroad, who at once suspended work on the Woodside line, and it was not completed for many years thereafter. Prior to this purchase by the Long Island Railroad Company the East River terminus of the New York & Flushing Railroad had been changed from the small dock referred to, and a lease had been executed between the Long Island Railroad Company and the New York & Flushing Railroad Company, giving the latter road terminal facilities for ten years in the Long Island Railroad station at Hunter's Point. The resulting position was, at the time we are speaking of, that the Long Island Railroad Company had acquired the New York & Flushing Railroad, and was operating it as a branch of their road. The Flushing & Woodside Railroad Company, by special act of the Legislature, had acquired the right to build a drawbridge over Flushing Creek, and the only corporate rights of that railroad that has now any value to the Long Island system is the right to cross this drawbridge, the same. having been acquired, as will be subsequently explained, from the Woodside corporation by another railroad organization.
About the time the Flushing & Woodside Railroad was being built, another railroad company was organized to build a road from Flushing eastward, known as the North Shore Railroad Company. This railroad was never completed. It was, however, actually constructed from Flushing to Great Neck, and was operated for a number of years under a contract with the New York & Flushing Railroad Company.
The Long Island Railroad Company did something in the way of extending its mileage between 1863 and 1870. One of the first moves in this direction was in April, 1863, when the corporation elected to purchase the stock of the branch which has been spoken of before as having been built from Syosset to Hicksville as a part of the Hicksville & Cold Spring Railroad. The Legislature had theretofore conferred upon the Long Island Railroad Company the power to build branches on Long Island at any point east of the village of Jamaica, or to purchase the stock of such connecting railroads. In 1867 the Long Island Railroad Company filed a map of a route, and entered vigorously upon the construction of a branch from Syosset to Northport. This branch was built under the corporate powers of the Long Island Railroad Company. The movement met with the vigorous opposition of those interested in having the railroad extended to Cold Spring; but the opponents of the location were divided, and it resulted in the abandonment of the right of way, and work between Syosset and Cold Spring, and the opening of a new line to Northport, the terminus of this line being in the village of Northport and not at the junction of the Smithtown & Port Jefferson Railroad, to be hereafter referred to. The result of these operations was to take in the piece of road built from Hicksville to Syosset, with the extension from Syosset to Northport, making one continuous branch from Hicksville to Northport.
In 1869 the Long Island Railroad Company projected another important work, which was conducted under its own corporate powers. It entered upon the construction of a line from Manor to Sag Harbor. The effect of this was to grant railroad facilities to the citizens on the south side of Long Island, at the east end thereof. This branch became an important feeder to the main line of the Long Island Railroad, and contributed greatly to the development of that part of the south side of Long Island.
Another important extension was stimulated by the Long Island Railroad Company, although not built by them. In June, 1870, the Smithtown & Port Jefferson Railroad Company was organized for the purpose of building a road from Northport to Port Jefferson. This was practically an extension of the branch of the Long Island Railroad then in operation from Hicksville to Northport, the details of which have been above stated. This road was about sixteen miles in length, and was constructed in its entirety. At the point of junction with the branch near Northport, the departure was made on the high lands out of the village of Northport rather than by extending from the terminus of the branch road, the effect of which was to have two stations in Northport, one of them on the hill, at which the through trains stopped, and another a short distance from the point of junction down in the village of Northport.*
[*"The people of Smithtown made many efforts to bring the railroad here * * These negotiations resulted in a proposition by Olives Charlick, representing the Long Island Railway, by which the people of this town [Smithtown] should organize an independent corporation (it never possessed the first elements of independence), should raise $80,000 in cash, lease its franchise to the Long Island Railway in advance, expend the money as far as it would go in constructing the road and raise the balance of the money necessary to complete it by issuing bonds, the principal and interest of which should be guaranteed by the Long Island Railroad. That plan, after much negotiation, was finally adopted. The town of Smithtown agreed to raise $50,000 of the $80,000 required by bonding the town and taking that amount of stock at par, the bonds to run thirty years, at seven per cent. interest. The people of the town have accepted and enjoyed the benefits of the railroad but now complain of the heavy interest."—J. Lawrence Smith.
[The road from Hicksville to Syosset in 1854, and extended to Northport in 1868, and from there, passing through Smithtown to Port Jefferson in 1872.]
The most serious menace to the business of the Long Island Railroad Company appeared in 1866, when the long-talked-of project of building the South Side Railroad was entered upon. So much had the population increased along the south side that the inhabitants and property owners along that section of country determined at all hazards to have a railroad that would let them out with greater facility than they could possibly get by driving to the center of the island to the main line of the Long Island Railroad. Numerous negotiations and schemes were projected for building branches toward the south, but for some reason Oliver Charlick and his associates failed to comprehend the growing importance of that section of the island, nor did they believe it possible for it to escape from their control. The South Side Railroad was constructed and opened between Jamaica and Brooklyn in the fall of 1867. At that time the South Side Railroad Company had not succeeded in acquiring their right-of-way and facilities for transporting passengers to the river's edge in the city of Brooklyn. They were straitened for means, and had not entirely given up hope that at Jamaica they might enter into some arrangement with the Long Island Railroad Company by which their cars and passengers could be transported to Hunter's Point. The writer was present at a long interview between representatives of the South Side Railroad Company and Mr. Charlick, in which every consideration was urged upon the Long Island Railroad Company to enter into such an arrangement, but Mr. Charlick was obdurate. His motive was not easy to define, except that it is highly probable he anticipated that at some future time this road would become more embarrassed and better terms could he made with it by the Long Island Railroad Company. All hope of reaching Hunter's Point over the Long Island Railroad having disappeared, the South Side Railroad corporation proceeded vigorously to build their line between Jamaica and Bushwick, which was as far as they were permitted to go with their locomotives into the city of Brooklyn. The location of this line was south of the present line from Jamaica to Springfield, and the station in Jamaica was at a point a little south of the present Long Island Railroad station in Jamaica. The line then passed westward for about two miles, and crossed the line of the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad, passing thence to Glendale, Fresh Pond and Bushwick. From Bushwick to the ferry on the East River the cars were hauled by dummy engines through the streets of the city of Brooklyn. About the time this line was completed to the East River, it was also opened as far east as Patchogue. Thereafter for a number of years, the main line of travel for the South Side Railroad was from Patchogue to the East River via Bushwick. It drew travel very heavily from the Long Island Railroad at all points on the south side west of Patchogue, and was also a sharp competitor in the village of Jamaica.
In 1868 the parties interested in the South Side Railroad Company organized the Far Rockaway Branch Railroad Company for the purpose of building a railroad between Valley Stream and Far Rockaway. This road was promptly constructed and put into operation. It proved to be a valuable feeder to the South Side Railroad. At that time, the terminus of the road was near the beach, at a point just west of the village of Far Rockaway. After a year or two of operation at this point, one winter there came a remarkable change in the shore line off Far Rockaway. In a single winter the coast in front of this South Side station fell off one-quarter to one-half of a mile out to sea, and a new shore line was formed and a beach thrown up along the front of the village of Far Rockaway, leaving a considerable sheet of water between the village and the sand beach. The South Side Railroad Company, finding that the attraction of being near the beach had been so suddenly and summarily terminated by the action of Nature, instead of extending their road directly out to the new line of beach, changed their plans, and in 1871 organized another railroad corporation, called the Rockaway Railroad Company, and located the line westerly along and parallel to the beach and not a great distance therefrom. This road was built through the sand hills of the beach for a distance of about four miles, and was the beginning of the large railroad business since transacted on Rockaway Beach. But little of the line of this road now enters into the trackage of the Long Island Railroad.
In 1869 the Hempstead and Rockaway Railroad was organized for the purpose of building a road from Valley Stream to the village of Hempstead. While this road was built in connection with the South Side Railroad and was operated by it after its construction, it formed no part of the corporate property of the South Side Railroad Company. Their station was conveniently located on the southerly side of the village of Hempstead, and it drew off for many years the major part of the travel from the Long Island Railroad in the village of Hempstead, diverting it to the South Side Railroad.
While the business to Far Rockaway and Rockaway Beach was being developed by the South Side system, the Long Island Railroad Company determined to enter this field, and in 1870 the managers organized the New York & Rockaway Railroad Company, to construct a railroad from Jamaica to Far Rockaway. This road was located from what is now known as Rockaway junction, about one mile east of the village of Jamaica, running southerly and in a pretty direct line crossing the main line of the South Side Railroad at Springfield, now Springfield junction, continuing its course to the village of Far Rockaway, and crossing the Valley Stream branch of the South Side Railroad at a point a short distance north of Far Rockaway, and entered the village of Far Rockaway at a point much more convenient for public travel than that located by the Valley Stream branch of the South Side Railroad. This corporation was organized apparently for the purpose of having the corporate rights and franchises vested in a corporation distinct from the Long Island Railroad Company. It was mortgaged and built upon the proceeds of the bonds sold. The line was leased to the Long Island Railroad Company for the term of thirty years, at a fixed rental sufficient to pay the interest on the bonds, and has been operated to this day by the Long Island Railroad Company under this lease. The corporate organization of this railroad has not been kept alive, and the Long Island Railroad Company's authority and control over the property is based upon the provisions of the lease. Upon the completion of this line, there sprang up a sharp competition between the South Side Railroad Company and the Long Island Railroad Company for the business accessible to both roads on the two lines.
We will now turn our attention to operation's that were inaugurated on the north side of the Island, which resulted in an entire revolution and change of railroad affairs in that direction, and which preceded the final combination of all the railroad interests. We have before stated that the New York & Flushing Railroad had fallen into the hands of the Long Island Railroad Company, and that after the accomplishment of that purpose there was an abandonment in the construction of the Flushing & Woodside Railroad, by reason of the purpose having been accomplished that seemed to actuate the directors of the Long Island Railroad in entering upon the building of the Flushing & Woodside Railroad. The citizens of Flushing and vicinity, smarting under what they conceived to be a trick to induce them to enter upon the construction of the Flushing & Woodside Railroad, only for the purpose of using it as a club to scare the management of the New York & Flushing Railroad by the Long Island management, determined to revive that enterprise and push it to completion, as a rival of the New York & Flushing Railroad. To accomplish this object, they secured the co-operation of some wealthy citizens in the villages of College Point and Whitestone, who in 1868 proceeded to organize a new railroad company, called the Flushing & North Side Railroad Company. The articles of association were filed for constructing and maintaining a railroad from Hunter's Point to the village of Roslyn, with a branch at a point in the main line in or near the village of Flushing to run to the villages of College Point and Whitestone. The Flushing interests having secured a majority of the old Woodside Company's stock, and thereby secured control of the franchise to cross Flushing Creek with a drawbridge, the new company located its line from a point on the north side of the East River, as follows: Starting at Hunter's Point and running thence immediately adjacent to and parallel with the Long Island Railroad as far as Woodside; then continuing their location over the line of the Flushing & Woodside Railroad to Bridge street, in the village of Flushing; continuing from there to the villages of College Point and Whitestone. This part of the line from Flushing to Whitestone was the branch contemplated in the articles of association.
In the sequel of the history of the road, no attempt was made to build the main line to Roslyn, and that part of the organization of this company need not be further considered. Work was pressed vigorously in the construction of this line, and finally, in the autumn of 1868, it was completed and opened for public travel. This road was new and well equipped, and very popular. The result was that it drew almost the entire travel off from the old line of the New York & Flushing Railroad. Soon thereafter negotiations were opened between the Long Island Railroad management an the management of this new enterprise to sell out to the Flushing & North Side Railroad Company the New York & Flushing Railroad. Competition had so far reduced the value of the New York & Flushing Railroad that the Long Island Railroad management were willing to get rid of it, and the management of the Flushing & North Side Railroad deemed it advisable to get rid of the competition of that line, and the transfer of the entire stock of the New York & Flushing Railroad to parties interested in the Flushing & North Side Railroad was the result. Thereafter, in April, 1869, the Legislature passed an enabling act, authorizing the Flushing & North Side Railroad Company to purchase the stock of the Flushing & Woodside Railroad, and to purchase a part of the New York & Flushing Railroad, and to consolidate them into one corporation. In pursuance of this act, the stock of the Flushing & Woodside Railroad was merged into that of the Flushing & North Side Railroad, and a deed was executed by the New York & Flushing Railroad Company, transferring the real estate and franchises of that part of its road lying between Winfield and Main street, Flushing, to the Flushing & North Side Railroad Company. Thus terminated the property and franchises of the New York & blushing Railroad Company to operate a railroad between Winfield and Flushing, but the New York & Flushing Railroad Company remained intact as a corporation with a railroad from Winfield to Long Island City, with its property rights unimpaired, and with its terminal facilities, such as they were, lying south of the depot and yards of the Long Island Railroad.
As the question of communication with New York ways the all-important factor in all these railroad lines, the position of the New York & Flushing Railroad at Long Island City was unfortunate, in that it was cut off from access to the ferry by the depot and yards of the Long Island Railroad, and that it was impracticable to maintain a separate line of boats for the purpose of carrying its passengers to New York. It was this reason that moved the owners of this property to sever it as they did, taking the eastern end into the new organization, and leaving the western end to be disposed of as time and subsequent events might point a way. The problem that now presented itself to the Flushing & North Side Railroad Company was to utilize its property and make it available in serving the public. To effect this object, the Flushing & North Side Railroad Company filed a new map of location, extending its lines from Woodside to Winfield, where it formed a junction with the old main line of the New York & Flushing Railroad, continuing along the line of that road to a point a short distance west of Flushing Creek, on the Meadows, near Flushing, and running thence along the creek, on the westerly side thereof, to a junction with what was the former Woodside line, crossing the creek on the drawbridge of that line, and so making a continuous line to College Point and Whitestone. These changes were effected soon after the purchase was made, and have continued in operation to this day, forming the line as now operated between Long Island City and College Point. The line between Woodside and the drawbridge was abandoned.
Railroad matters on Long Island remained substantially unchanged until 1872. Prior to that date the late A. T. Stewart had purchased a large tract of land known as the Hempstead Plains, lying in the town of Hempstead, and proposed to develop the same by building houses and locating improvements on the lands. There was no railroad through this tract of land, except the short cross road from Hempstead to Mineola, before referred to. He began active negotiations, first with the Long Island Railroad Company, and afterwards with the Flushing & North Side Railroad Company, to form a connection with either road as he could negotiate the best terms with. It resulted in a contract to form a connection with a proposed road, that Stewart was to build, with the Flushing & North Side Railroad, and in 1871 the Central Railroad Company of Long Island was organized. The proposed line was to run from a point on the line of the Flushing & North Side Railroad east of the Flushing Creek drawbridge, running thence easterly to the westerly boundary of the land of A. T. Stewart, and thence easterly through said lands to a point near Farmingdale, and thence to Bethpage, with a branch from the main line to the village of Hempstead. This road was constructed in all its parts, and proved a most disastrous enterprise to the Flushing & North Side Railroad Company, who were under contract to operate the road. In building that part of the line between Flushing and the westerly boundary of the land of A. T. Stewart, the road passed through the high lands forming the center of Long Island, and in making the cut on that portion of the line there was executed the largest and most expensive piece of earthwork on Long Island. This road was opened on January 1, 1873. The branch line from Garden City to Hempstead is the same line that is now operated to that village. It ran a short distance easterly from the old branch of the Long Island Railroad, and is now the only line that the Long Island Railroad Company operates into the village of Hempstead on the north side. That part of the old Mineola & Hempstead branch, built in the early days of the Long Island Railroad, lying south of the Stewart line and between that line and the village of Hempstead, was abandoned about 1878, and has never been opened or operated since.
The traffic on this central railroad of Long Island, otherwise known as the Stewart line, between Farmingdale and Flushing, including that from the village of Hempstead, proved entirely unremunerative, and the management of the Flushing & North Side Railroad, determining to try and secure further also be noted that the Port Washington Rail traffic for this line, entered upon the scheme of extending the line to the south side of Long Island, and organized the Central Railroad. Extension Company. The articles of association for this new company were filed in April, 1873. The location of the line was from a point near Farmingdale, running southeasterly, crossing the South Side Railroad about one mile west of Babylon, and running to the Fire Island steamboat dock. The road was constructed and put in operation to the highway leading to the dock, thus forming a through line from Babylon, through Garden City, Flushing, reaching Hunter's Point, and landing its passengers on the north side of the ferry. Considerable traffic was thus drawn to the road, but, while operated from Babylon in competition with the South Side Railroad, the rates were low and the effect was damaging upon the South Side Road. It should be noted, in passing, that the opening of the branch road from Garden City to Hempstead practically destroyed the business of the Long Island Railroad to that village.
There now developed a distinctive system of railroads on Long Island, connected with the North Side roads, and it was deemed desirable to combine them into one system. The management contemplated further extensions, and organized the North Shore & Port Washington Railroad Company, and the Roslyn & Huntington Railroad Company. They then proceeded to consolidate these corporations, called the Flushing, North Shore & Central Railroad Company. This was effected by agreement of consolidation made the 19th day of June, 1874. The position of this corporation at that date was as follows: It owned a continuous line from Whitestone to Hunter's Point, with a passenger and freight depot on the north side of the ferries. It also had a branch from Great Neck to the junction of the main line in the village of Flushing. It had a line from Babylon to Flushing, where it united with the main line. It also had a branch from Hempstead to Garden City. It should be stated, however, that at this time it held the real estate of the Stewart line, from the westerly end of the Stewart purchase to Bethpage, and also the branch into Hempstead, under a contract of lease with A. T. Stewart, and had not at that time acquired the title to the lands over which it ran. It should also be noted that the Port Washington Railroad and the Roslyn & Huntington Railroad were contemplated extensions easterly from Great Neck; but as they were never constructed, they need not be again referred to in this history. The Whitestone & Westchester Railroad was a short line extending from the main station in the village of Whitestone down to the water's edge. This road was actually constructed about 1883, and is now owned and operated by the Long Island Railroad Company.
Immediately upon the commencement of operations to construct the Central Railroad from the junction in Flushing to Garden City and Hempstead, and thence eastward on the Stewart property, the Long Island Railroad Company determined to deliver a counterblow to that system of roads, and promoted the construction of the Newtown & Flushing Railroad, which corporation was organized in 1871. This line ran from a point of junction on the main line of the Long Island Railroad at Winfield to the village of Flushing, a distance of about four miles. It thus formed, in connection with the main line of the Long Island Railroad, a rival line from Flushing to Long Island City, and tapped the most important railroad station of the North Side system. Immediately upon its opening the rates were reduced about one-half. It became a formidable rival to the North Side system at its most vital point, reducing the revenues of that road to a very material extent. The cars run on this road were painted white, and it was familiarly called by the public the "White Line."
Again returning to the South Side Railroad, to bring up the history of that division and record its progress in the contest for business on Long Island, it is proper to note that that corporation had no facilities on the waters of the East River for the transportation of freight over its line, nor were they satisfied with their terminal facilities for the transportation of passengers through Brooklyn from Bushwick to the East River by dummy engines. In looking for an outlet in another direction to relieve them from these two embarassments, they organized the Hunter's Point and South Side Railroad Company in 1870. The articles of association proposed to build a road from a point on the South Side Railroad Company's line at Fresh Pond, running thence to the East River at a point between the Hunter's Point ferry and Ravenswood, that being the name of the village next north of Hunter's Point, opposite Blackwell's Island. Had this line been constructed in its entirety it would have crossed first the old line of the New York & Flushing Railroad between Winfield and Hunter's Point; secondly, the main line of the Long Island Railroad, and thirdly, the main line of the Flushing, North Shore & Central Railroad. Whatever may have been the ideas of its management as to the feasibility of the line contemplated, they never undertook to construct it in its entirety, but did construct their line from the point of junction at Fresh Pond to the contemplated crossing of the New York & Flushing Railroad, which was then a branch lying idle and not operated. Having reached this point of junction, and having already negotiated the purchase of the stock of the New York & Flushing Railroad, the Hunters' Point & South Side Railroad formed a connection with the New York & Flushing Railroad, and by this means secured an outlet on the property of the latter company to navigable waters on Newtown Creek, with such rights as that company had south of the Long Island Railroad station. They proceeded at once to put as much of this road as was necessary in order, so as to reach a freight dock which they constructed on Newtown Creek, and were thus in the field as competitors with the Long Island Railroad and the Flushing, North Shore and Central Railroad for the transportation of freight from all competitive points. They did not, however, change their terminal for passenger traffic. That continued as above stated. By an enabling act, the South Side Railroad Company was authorized to purchase the stock of the New York & Flushing Railroad, the Far Rockaway Branch Railroad and the Rockaway Railroad, of Queens County, and the Hunter's Point & South Side Railroad.
In September, 1872, by the authority of this act, the Far Rockaway Railroad Company was consolidated into the South Side Railroad Company, and a proper certificate filed in the office of the Secretary of State on September, 1872. On the same day a similar certificate was filed in the same manner, consolidating the Rockaway Railway Company and the Hunter's Point and South Side Railroad Company with the South Side Railroad Company. By these three acts the South Side Railroad Company became vested with the title of the branch from Valley Stream to the western terminus on Rockaway Beach, and also to the branch from Fresh Pond to the junction of the New York & Flushing Railroad. For some reason, not apparent at this day, the management of the South Side Railroad saw fit not to avail themselves of the provisions of the act of the Legislature and complete the consolidation of the New York & Flushing Railroad with the South Side Railroad Company, and so that corporation continued outside of the corporate life of the South Side Railroad Company until the same was absorbed at a later date.
The details of construction of all the steam roads on Long Island up to 1874 that have since fallen into the Long Island Railroad corporation have now been stated. A summary of the position of these roads in 1874 will be profitable to an understanding of subsequent events, for it was at about this time that the contest was most bitter and severe between the three systems that we can now properly designate as the North Side system, the Main Line or Central system and the South Side system. To recapitulate and state the lines that were in active operation at this date, the North Side system had a line running from the north side of the East River ferry at Hunter's Point, running thence through Flushing and College Point to Whitestone; an extension from Main street, in Flushing, to Great Neck; a branch from Flushing through Rocky Hill and Garden City to Babylon, and a branch from Garden City to Hempstead. The Long Island Railroad proper controlled what we have designated the Main Line or Central system, which consisted of a road from Hunter's Point to Greenport, with a branch from Mineola to Hempstead, a branch from Manor to Sag Harbor, a branch from Jamaica to Far Rockaway, a branch from Hicksville to Port Jefferson, a branch from Mineola to Locust Valley, a branch from Winfield to Flushing, and a branch from Jamaica to East New York.
The South Side system consisted of a main line from Grand street, in the city of Brooklyn, through Bushwick, Jamaica, Springfield and Babylon to Patchogue, a branch from Valley Stream to Hempstead, a branch from Valley Stream to Rockaway Beach, and a branch from Fresh Pond to a point on Newtown Creek, in Long Island City. This summary gives a statement of all the lines of railroad in actual operation at the date spoken of, but does not include uncompleted parts of roads, nor projected schemes that had not to that date been constructed. A person who will take a map of Long Island and look at the lines as stated cannot fail to observe that the three systems of railroads cross and intersect each other at numerous points, and competed on the same ground for travel and business that one railroad could easily handle. The effect of this situation was to have the sharpest kind of competition to secure the business, with the result that wherever competition could reach it was done at ruinous rates.
The first of these railroad systems to succumb to the ruinous effects of this competition was the South Side system. It defaulted in the payment of interest upon its bonds, in 1874, and was unable to pay a large floating debt that had accumulated. Foreclosure proceedings were instituted upon a series of second mortgage bonds to the amount of $1,000,000, and such proceedings were had that the road, its property and franchises were sold and bid in by parties representing the North Side system of railroads. The North Side system had been promoted and carried forward chiefly by Conrad Poppenhusen, a gentleman of very large means, of the highest character and of a sanguine temperament. He had very limited experience in railroad matters, and for a few years was a very important factor in railroad affairs on Long Island until he came to financial grief.
Upon the purchase of the South Side property upon this foreclosure, a new corporation was organized, called the Southern Railroad Company. Its articles of association were filed in September, 1874. This new corporation succeeded to all the property and franchises of the old South Side Railroad, except a branch from Valley Stream to Hempstead, which had never been consolidated with the South Side Railroad. At this time it will be noted that the North Side system was now in harmony with the South Side system; that, while there was no actual consolidation, the same parties were owners of both systems of railroads. Considerable modification resulted from this uniformity of interests in the administration of the business of the two systems of railroads on the island. Very soon after the new corporation was organized, it abandoned the branch from Valley Stream to Hempstead. There was a first mortgage upon that branch, which was subsequently foreclosed and the property sold. No attempt has ever been made to open that line of road since that date, and it is among the abandoned roads on the island. Another change that was effected took place near Babylon. It will be remembered that when the Central Extension Railroad was constructed, it crossed the line of the South Side Railroad, continuing its way towards the Fire Island Dock. That part of it lying south of the South Side Railroad was abandoned, the track was taken up, and a curve put in at the junction, so as to make a connection with the South Side Railroad. No other material changes were made in this road, until a subsequent event of great importance. For two years the fastest passenger trains were run from Patchogue to Babylon, thence over the Flushing, North Shore & Central Railroad, via Garden City and Flushing, to Hunter's Point.
Practically the railroad fight was now on against the Long Island Railroad by the combined roads on the north and south, although legally the two corporations, the north and the south, were still distinct properties. A war of rates continued with unsatisfactory results to the railroads. In 1875 the earnings of the Long Island Railroad were only $798,000; the Flushing, North Shore & Central, $429,691, and the Southern Road $340,000, making a total of $1,567,691. In 1876 a great change came, which was the precursor of the present Long Island Railroad system. Mr. Conrad Poppenhusen and a few of his associates bought out a majority of the stock of the Long Island Railroad, and thus for the first time were all the railroad properties on Long Island brought under one harmonious control.
Immediately upon the control of all the railroads being substantially under one management, changes were inaugurated to facilitate business and combine the corporation under one management. To effect this object, a tripartite agreement or lease was executed between the three systems, by which the Long Island Railroad Company was the lessee of the North Side and South Side systems. This lease was dated in 1876. It is not out of place to state here that if these lease's had been judicious and fair to all the corporations, at this point would have been established the permanent co-operation and the ultimate consolidation of all these roads. At the time the leases were executed, there were very sharp and conflicting differences of opinion as to the basis of the leases. On one side was a conservative element who contended for rates very different from those that were established by the contract. On the other hand, there was a sanguine element in the board who believed that if the whole system were relieved from the effects of competition the Long Island Railroad would be able justly and properly to assume the fixed charges established by the terms of the lease. The sequel showed that the conservative element was in the right, and that the sanguine element was doomed to a bitter disappointment. The whole structure thus brought together was doomed to fall apart, to be again reconstructed into the system now prevailing. The one weak point was the excess of fixed charges over and above that which the lessee road could, by any possibility, pay. It was the same rock upon which so many railroad schemes have been wrecked.
We will now turn our attention to changes that quickly followed the making of the lease, or tripartite agreement of 1876, many of which changes have remained to this day in the operation of the road. The first change was to immediately stop the running of cars over the White Line, so-called, running from Newtown to Flushing. This line was soon thereafter entirely abandoned, and no attempt has ever been made to open it for public travel. The next most important change was to extend the western freight line of the southern system from the freight dock on Newtown Creek into the passenger station of the Long Island Railroad, thus making it possible for the trains destined for the South Side system to depart from Long Island City and proceed via Fresh Pond to Jamaica, and from thence along the South Side Railroad. After this change was made, the continuance of transportation of passengers by dummy engines through the city of Brooklyn, from Bushwick to the East River, was discontinued, but the line from Fresh Pond to Bushwick was continued as a branch line or spur of the main line, a condition of things that still remains unchanged. Important changes were also effected at Hunter's Point, which was then known as Long Island City, by connecting the line of the North Side division with the main line of the Long Island Railroad, and thus carrying the passenger trains of that division also into the Long Island Railroad depot on the south side of the ferry. A connection was also made between the tracks of the North Side division that ran to the north side of the ferry and the main line of the Long Island Railroad and the property of the North Side division on the north side of the ferry became the principal depot for the receipt of freight for the united systems, and still continues the freight yard for New York freight. Another change of lesser importance, but of great practical convenience, was effected, by putting in a curve at Springfield Junction, uniting the Rockaway branch of the Long Island Railroad with the main line of the Southern division, and transferring the through passenger business from the short line, cutting off from Jamaica to Springfield onto the Long Island main lint as far as Rockaway Junction, and thence to Springfield on the New York and Rockaway Road, and from Springfield eastward on the main line of the southern division. The effect of thus was to get rid of one of two stations in the village of Jamaica, with its attendant expenses. Another change of minor importance was effected by abandoning entirely the operation of the old line from Garden City to Hempstead. By these various minor changes two stations were gotten rid of in the village of Hempstead, one station in the village of Jamaica, and one station in the village of Flushing.
The roads were operated in this manner by the new management for about eighteen months, but the Long Island Railroad Company became so embarrassed by the fixed charges and a rapidly accumulating floating debt that in the fall of 1877 it passed into the hands of a receiver, Mr. Thomas R. Sharp being appointed to that position. Then was entered upon a series of movements by bondholders that would have dissipated and divided the scheme of union of the three systems, except that the bondholders were unable to see how it was possible to operate the separate divisions with any better success than had been found in the former experience; and while they knew it was necessary to readjust matters, the general sentiment on all sides seemed to be that there was no prosperity for the roads on Long Island except by united management. The details of the processes by which the new adjustments were made would be tedious, and could only be fully stated by reciting the proceedings in full. The results only will be stated here. A mortgage on the Southern Railroad was foreclosed, thus cutting out the lease-hold right of the Long Island Railroad Company in that road, and temporarily severing it from the Long Island Railroad system. The purchasers under the mortgage foreclosure of the Southern Railroad of Long Island organized a new railroad corporation under date of November, 1870, under the name of the Brooklyn & Montauk Railroad Company, and took title to all of the South Side Railroad system, except the line from Valley Stream to Hempstead, and also the line from Valley Stream to Far Rockaway, and thence along the Rockaway Beach, these properties not being covered by the mortgage foreclosed. The property covered by the mortgage was the line from Brooklyn to Patchogue, and the branch from Fresh Pond to the junction with the New York & Flushing Railroad. The road from Valley Stream to Hempstead was mortgaged, and the bondholders foreclosed that mortgage, but were never able to dispose of the line of road between Valley Stream and Hempstead, and it has been abandoned to the present date. A mortgage upon the road from Valley Stream to Far Rockaway was foreclosed, and title to the same was taken by Henry Graves on such foreclosure. Thus Henry Graves became the purchaser of the line from Valley Stream to Far Rockaway. On the 19th day of December, 1882, Henry Graves conveyed this property from Valley Stream to Far Rockaway to the Brooklyn & Montauk Railroad Company, and thus this branch railroad again became attached to the South Side system. The title to that piece of road from Far Rockaway westward along the beach passed to the Brooklyn & Montauk Railroad Company through the two foreclosures of the mortgage on the South Side Railroad and the mortgage on the Southern Railroad.
We will now turn our attention to the changes that were effected on the north side many of which were more radical than those effected on the south side. During the receivership of Thomas R. Sharp, and about the year 1878, he determined to abandon the part of the line of the Central Railroad between Flushing and the western line of the Stewart property, and effected a connection between the western end of the road on the Stewart property and the main line of the Long Island Railroad, thus bringing the passengers who had formerly passed from Babylon westward to Long Island City, via Flushing, down on the main line to Long Island City. A foreclosure of the mortgage of the Central Railroad was effected in 1879, by which the title to that road passed to Egisto P. Fabbri. The policy having been entered upon of abandoning that line and yet preserving at each end of it a piece that might be of advantage to the contemplated system, Mr. Fabbri, in October, 1879, conveyed to the Long Island Railroad Company a portion of the eastern end of the old Central Railroad between Creedmoor and the crossing of the main line of the Long Island Railroad. A curve was put in between the main line and this piece of road, and thus the Long Island Railroad Company became entitled to the spur from Floral Park to Creedmoor. A piece of this road in the village of Flushing was at a later date conveyed to the Long Island City and Flushing Railroad Company.
On the 30th day of December, 1880, another great change in the affairs of the railroads on Long Island was consummated. Ow that day, Receiver Sharp was discharged, and Austin Corbin was substituted as receiver in place of Mr. Sharp. This change was the result of a purchase by Austin Corbin and his associates of a large majority of the stock of the Long Island Railroad, and other securities connected with the railroad system. Mr. Corbin* ran the road as receiver until the 15th day of October, 1881, when he was directed by an order of the Supreme Court to restore the property of the Long Island Railroad Company to the control of its directors. Mr. Corbin infused into the management of the Long Island Railroad a new spirit of energy. He inaugurated many and great reforms, that placed the system of railroads on the island on a much higher plane of efficiency than they had ever before enjoyed. The most important enterprise entered upon in Mr. Corbin's administration was undertaken the first summer after he had been appointed receiver, and had also been elected President of the Board of Directors of the Long Island Railroad Corporation. By the co-operation of the Brooklyn & Montauk Railroad Company, that corporation, under its corporate powers, extended the road from Patchogue to Eastport on the Sag Harbor Branch of the Long Island Railroad, forming a junction there with that branch line, and thus was inaugurated a through line of railroad from Sag Harbor along the south side of the island as far as Springfield, running thence to Jamaica, and uniting with the main line of the Long Island Railroad that point. This was the only piece of railroad construction inaugurated by Mr. Corbin for several years, but the general characteristics of the road and its rolling stock were radically changed under his vigorous administration.
[*Austin Corbin, whose best and most enduring memorial in the Long Island Railroad, was one of the most noted capitalists of his time, and his career was from first to last truly an American one,—one that could not be paralleled in any other country in the world. This was conspicuous especially in his later years when he strove to utilize his means and brains and influence to promote what was really a magnificent series of projects for the public benefit. In most other countries a man who had successfully engaged in the battle of life would have retired to enjoy himself "under his own vine and fig tree;" but almost until the close of his career Mr. Corbin was interested in improving matters around him in using his resources in benefiting the public, and while he never posed as a philanthropist, expected a fair return for all the capital he employed, and engaged in business on business principles, all he did was with a view of placing some benefit within reach, and at the service, of the people. Even his management of his private property, his summer home, had this end in view.
Mr. Corbin was born at Newport, N. H., July 11, 1827. He studied law at Harvard and when he was graduated, in 1849, returned to his native town and began to practice. He soon found it too slow, however, and he determined to try his fortune in the west. In 1852 he settled in Davenport, Iowa, where he organized what is now the First National Bank, and remained there until 1866, when he came to New York and fully entered upon that career as a banker and financier which long before he passed away made his name famous throughout the country, and indeed throughout the whole financial world. He established the Corbin Banking Company in 1873 and entered upon his remarkable series of exploits as a railroad financier by the reorganization of the Indiana, Bloomington & Western Railroad. His connection with the Long Island Railroad is fully told in the body of this work and need not be repeated here. He was also at one time receiver of the Philadelphia & Reading Railroad and became its president, and he was president of the New York and New England Railroad Company, and of the Elmira, Cortland & Northern Railroad Company, and a director in a host of financial institutions of every description.
He died, the result of an accident, June 4, 1896.]
In 1881 the mortgage on the Central Extension Railroad was foreclosed. This was the road built from Farmingdale to Babylon, before referred to. On this foreclosure the title was taken in the name of Benjamin S. Henning, who subsequently on the 9th day of February, 1882, conveyed the same to the Long Island Railroad Company. Thus the Long Island Railroad Company became entitled to that branch of railroad.
In 1880 a foreclosure had been consummated of a mortgage on the Flushing & North Side Railroad, and on the sale title to that property was taken by Egisto P. Fabbri and Charles Knoblauch. In March, 1881, Fabbri and Knoblauch filed a certificate organizing the Long Island City & Flushing Railroad Company, and on the first day of April, 1881, Fabbri and Knoblauch conveyed to that corporation the property they had acquired on the foreclosure proceedings. By this conveyance the Long Island City & Flushing Railroad Company became entitled to a line of railroad from Long Island City to Main street, in the village of Flushing, and also the line of road from the junction near the drawbridge over Flushing Creek, running thence to Whitestone. By this deed, and by virtue of the former consolidation of the Flushing & Woodside Railroad, the new corporation became vested of all there was remaining of value in the Flushing & Woodside Railroad. It consisted chiefly of the franchise to cross Flushing Creek near the Bridge street station in the village of Flushing. The road heretofore spoken of as the North Shore Railroad, extending from Main street, in the village of Flushing, was thus severed from any legal connection with any corporation; but in fact was an outlying branch, which was subsequently acquired, as will be now explained. In 1882 a mortgage upon this North Shore Railroad, running from Flushing to Great Neck, was foreclosed, and on the sale title was taken in the name of Austin Corbin and J. Rogers Maxwell. On the 2d day of October, 1884, Corbin and Maxwell conveyed this piece of road to the Long Island City & Flushing Railroad Company, and thus for the first time the fee of this road became vested in the corporation that owned the title to the line from Flushing to Long Island City.
During the year 1886 a mortgage on the Whitestone & Westchester Road was foreclosed, and the property sold to John R. Maxwell and Henry Graves. On the 28th day of April, 1887, Maxwell and Graves conveyed this property to the Long Island City & Flushing Railroad Company, and thus the latter company became entitled to the railroad to the water's edge in the village of Whitestone.
No attempt was made by the owners of the North Side system of railroads, that had become legally severed from the control of the Long Island Railroad Company, nor by the owners of the South Side system of railroads, that had also become severed from the Long Island Railroad Company, to operate them as independent properties, but they were operated for a few years under leases made with each of the new organizations by the Long Island Railroad Company.
On the 30th day of September, 1889, a certificate was filed in the office of the Secretary of State of New York, that the whole capital stock of the Brooklyn & Montauk Railroad Company had been surrendered or transferred to the Long Island Railroad Company. By this certificate of surrender under the statute the property and franchises of the Brooklyn & Montauk Railroad Company became merged in and consolidated with the Long Island Railroad Company, and thus the Long Island Railroad Company acquired title to all those roads that had been merged into the Brooklyn & Montauk Railroad Company. On the 2d of April, 1889, a certificate was filed in the office of the Secretary of State, certifying that the entire capital stock of the Long Island City & Flushing Railroad Company had been surrendered or transferred to the Long Island Railroad Company. The effect of this was to merge and consolidate the line of road from Long Island City to Great Neck, via Flushing, together with the branch from College Point to Whitestone, in the Long Island Railroad Company.
In April, 1891, a certificate was filed in the office of the Secretary of State, that the entire capital stock of the New York & Flushing Railroad Company had been surrendered and transferred to the Long Island Railroad Company, thus effecting a legal union between the Long Island Railroad Company and the remnant of the old New York & Flushing Railroad, which was being, utilized in the system. That part of the New York & Flushing Railroad lying between Winfield, and the junction of the South Side Railroad had been abandoned for many years, and still remains an abandoned line.
It will be remembered that the Stewart line, so-called, running across Hempstead Plains, had never been acquired in fee, but up to 1892 had been run as a leased line. On June 1, 1892, the heirs of A. T. Stewart conveyed the fee of that line to the Long Island Railroad Company. The line conveyed by this deed extended from the junction of that road with the main line at Floral Park eastwardly to Farmingdale and Bethpage, together with the branch from Garden City to Hempstead. By the operation of this deed, the Long Island Railroad Company became vested with the title and property of this piece of railroad.
The history of all of the railroad property owned by the Long Island Railroad Company in its own right is now complete. There are other railroads on Long Island operated by the Long Island Railroad Company that will need further consideration and explanation, but at this stage it will facilitate an understanding if we stop and look at the property of the Long Island Railroad corporation standing in its own name, regardless of the attached leased lines. We will now recapitulate the lines owned by this company; disregarding all old names and treating the present property as a unit as it is in fact:
A line from Long Island City via Winfield, Jamaica and Farmingdale, to Greenport.
A branch from Mineola to Locust Valley.
A branch from Hicksville to Northport.
A branch from Manorville to Eastport.
A branch from Mineola to Hempstead.
A branch from Floral Park to Creedmoor.
A branch from Floral Park, via Garden City, to Babylon.
A branch from Bethpage junction to Bethpage.
A line from Long Island City, via Fresh Pond, Jamaica and Babylon, to Sag Harbor.
A branch from Fresh Pond to Bushwick.
A branch from Valley Stream to Rockaway Beach.
A line from Long Island City to Great Neck.
A branch from Flushing to, Whitestone Landing.
Such are the lines and branches owned by the present Long Island Railroad Company. That part of the Southern division owned by the Long Island Railroad Company is the old line from Jamaica to Springfield, not now much used. The principal trains pass eastward to Rockaway junction, and thence to Springfield Junction. This piece of road of the New York & Rockaway Railroad between the two junctions is operated under lease from the New York and Rockaway Railroad Company. The balance of the New York and Rockaway Railroad from. Springfield Junction to Far Rockaway was abandoned many years ago.
There are a number of leased lines now operated by the parent company of more or less importance. By far the most important one is the line from Jamaica to Flatbush avenue in the city of Brooklyn. We have not undertaken to give the history of the old Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad. For the purposes of this history it is sufficient to say that through foreclosures and reorganizations the property of that corporation finally vested in the Atlantic Avenue Railroad Company. A part of the road between East New York and the ferry was for many years run as a street railroad, and the part between Jamaica and East New York was run for about ten years as a leased line of the Long Island Railroad Company. In 1876 the Legislature, in response to the then urgent demands of the authorities and citizens of Brooklyn, passed an act restoring the use of steam power in Atlantic avenue, in the city of Brooklyn, from Flatbush avenue to the city line. In pursuance of this authority, a new lease was effected in 1877 between the Long Island Railroad Company and the Atlantic Avenue Railroad Company, by which the former leased the line from Jamaica to Flatbush avenue for ninety-nine years, upon a basis of a per cent. of the earnings being paid as rent. This percentage basis was on the 30th day of April, 1895, changed to a fixed rental. When the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad; was first constructed, that corporation acquired a considerable tract of land in the village of Jamaica, and erected a station arid other terminal facilities there. The use of this land passed under the various leases to the Long Island Railroad Company, and in the construction of depots, side-tracks, yard facilities and other structures appurtenant to so large and important a station and junction, the lands of the two corporations have been used in common, disregarding the property lines between the two corporations, so that at this day, without an actual survey, no one could determine in the tangle of tracks and structures at Jamaica on which company's land they are built. This is probably not a very material matter at this time, but it is a fact worth noting in the history of the Long Island Railroad Company. Under the new lease, the track between Jamaica and Flatbush avenue was relaid in the early summer of 1877, and on the first day of July in that year locomotives and cars began running between Flatbush avenue and Jamaica. While this road is only a leased line of the Long Island Railroad Company, it is a very important factor to that corporation.
Another leased line of importance to the Long Island Railroad Company is that of the New York & Rockaway Railroad. This line was leased to the Long Island Railroad Company in 1871 for a period of thirty years, and the lease on the same will expire in 1901.
In 1886 a railroad was organized under the name of the Oyster Bay Extension Railroad Company. The purpose of this organization was to extend the line of the Glen Cove branch, so-called, from Locust Valley to Oyster Bay. This road was constructed by the Long Island Railroad Company, the latter corporation having subscribed for or secured the entire capital stock under the provisions of its charter, allowing it to subscribe for or purchase the stock of any connecting road on Long Island. The Long Island Railroad Company guaranteed the bonds issued in the construction of that railroad, and has operated it since its construction as a leased line, without having executed any written lease, but have paid by the way of rental the interest on the bonds issued for its construction.
In I870 another railroad was organized, entitled the New York & Long Beach Railroad Company. This road was constructed from what was then known is Pearsall's Corners, now Lynbrook, to Long Beach, where a summer hotel and numerous cottages were erected. In February, 1880, it was leased to the Long Island Railroad Company, under an agreement by which a per cent. of its earnings should be paid to the corporation. In the sequel it was found that this per cent. was not sufficient to meet the interest on the bonds issued for the construction of the road, and a mortgage to secure the bonds was subsequently foreclosed, which terminated the lease, and a new corporation was organized. Since the reorganization of this road, it his sometimes been operated by the Long Island Railroad Company as a leased line, but much of the time it has been idle.
In July, 1892, the Long Island Railroad Company, North Shore Branch, was organized. The purpose of this branch was to extend the Smithtown & Port Jefferson Railroad eastward to Wading River. In September, 1892, the corporate rights and franchises of this corporation were merged and consolidated with the Smithtown & Port Jefferson Railroad Company, and the name adopted by this new organization was the Long Island Railroad Company, North Shore Branch: By this operation the name of the Smithtown & Port Jefferson Railroad disappears from the map of Long Island, and the entire branch from Northport to Wading River is now the Long Island Railroad Company, North Shore Branch, and is now operated as a branch of the Long Island Railroad.
In 1892 a corporation was organized under the name and title of the New York Bay Extension Railroad Company. The line of this road was to be from Garden City, in the town of Hempstead, to a point in the city of Brooklyn (formerly the town of New Lots) in the county of Kings, at or near the intersection of the New Lots road with the tracks and right-of-way of the New York, Brooklyn & Manhattan Beach Railway Company. This line, if constructed in its entirety, would cross the line of the Southern division at Valley Stream. It has been constructed from Garden City to Valley Stream, and is now operated as a leased line.
In 1893 the Montauk Extension Railroad Company was organized. The purpose of this organization was to build a road from Bridgehampton to Fort Pond Bay, on Montauk Point. The road was subsequently constructed and is now operated by the Long Island Railroad Company as a leased line.
In 1896 there was organized a railroad corporation called the Great Neck & Port Washington Railroad Company, to construct an extension of the North Shore division from Great Neck to Port Washington. This railroad is now in process of construction, and when completed will undoubtedly prove a valuable feeder to the Long Island Railroad system.
We have now given all of the lines on Long Island that attach themselves in any way to the main line east of the city of Brooklyn, but which have not been incorporated into the Long Island Railroad Company. There is another railroad, however, that holds an anomalous position connected with the Long Island Railroad Company, and yet not one of its leased lines. A short history of this enterprise will explain the position, of that corporation. In 1879 the New York, Woodhaven & Rockaway Railroad Company was organized for the purpose of building a railroad from Hunter's Point (Long Island City) to Rockaway Beach, crossing the Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad at Woodhaven, and thence across the Meadows to the beach. The project originally contemplated an independent line to the East River, but the projectors of the scheme, encountering what to them were insurmountable obstacles in getting through Long Island City, entered into a contract with Thomas R. Sharp, as receiver for the Long Island Railroad Company, by which they commenced building at Glendale, and completed their road to Rockaway Beach. Their contract with the Long Island Railroad Company gave them track privileges and terminal facilities in the Long Island Railroad depot in Long Island City. This road furnished its own equipment and operated its own trains under this contract, but, coming to financial embarrassment, its corporate property and franchises were foreclosed and sold to Austin Corbin and others, who, on the 20th day of August, 1887, conveyed the property to a new corporation, called the New York & Rockaway Beach Railroad Company. By agreement between the Long Island Railroad Company and this corporation, track privileges and terminal facilities were given it in the Long Island Railroad station in Long Island City, and also a sort of joint occupation and a readjustment of that part of the Long Island Railroad tracks between Far Rockaway and the western terminus of its property on Rockaway Beach was made between the two corporations. The business of this corporation, while apparently a branch line, has been conducted under these agreements separate and distinct from the Long Island Railroad Company.
There are other lines leased or controlled by the Long Island Railroad Company running to Coney Island, of which no attempt is made here to trace their history or status. The name of one is the New York, Brooklyn & Manhattan Beach Railway Company, and the other is the Prospect Park & Coney Island Railroad Company. These lines are operated chiefly for summer traffic to Coney Island, and farm properly no part of the Long Island Railroad system as such.
Soon after the death of Austin Corbin the Long Island Railroad Company was reorganized and Mr. W. H. Baldwin, Jr., became President. Under him the road was worked to its fullest capacity; its mileage was extended until it controlled 415 miles and the entire road was put in splendid physical condition, with new rails, rolling stock and the like. The patronage of the road, under a liberal construction as to rates, steadily increased, the summer business at an especially gratifying rate; but the isolated condition of the system prevented a full measure of success being attained. For four months in each year the road had all the business it could attend to; for the remainder it had barely enough to pay expenses, although the winter schedule of trains compared with that of the summer was a sadly abbreviated one and running expenses were cut down to a minimum. It has become conceded in railroad circles that only trunk lines, or lines having trunk connections can be made to pay; but the Long Island road seemed so completely isolated that there appeared no possibility of effecting an improvement in that regard. Austin Corbin had tried the experiment of running a line to Boston, with the aid of ferryboats, and so bringing the Long Island road into touch with the railroad system of the country; but the effort was a flat and pronounced failure. The public would not use the route and that settled it. A scheme was subsequently broached of having European steamers land passengers at Montauk Point, but that project never got beyond the stage of discussion. In fact all such schemes of expansion seemed doomed to disappointment until the announcement was made that the Pennsylvania Railroad Company had acquired a controlling interest in the road and the exclusion bogey of over half a century disappeared as if by magic.
This move on the part of the Pennsylvania system was not made without thorough calculation, but it was not until the summer of 1901 that the schemes made possible by the acquisition of the road had sufficiently advanced to be made public. Briefly put, these plans are based on the possession or control, first, of the present lines of the Long Island Railroad; second, on connections across the island at its western end with the New York Connecting Railroad, giving an outlet by means of three bridges across the East River over Ward's and Randall's Islands to the mainland, where connection will be made with the New York & New Haven Road and with the Harlem; third, on the tunnel from Hunter's Point to Manhattan at the neighborhood of Long Acre Square (Times Square), and, finally, on the tunnel from the Battery in Manhattan to the present terminus of the Long Island Railroad, at Flatbush and Atlantic avenues, in Brooklyn. The plans have two general objectives. One is the development of freight and passenger traffic with the old city of New York and the extensive region on Long Island, including the old city of Brooklyn and the Borough of Queens. The other relates to comparatively close connection between the Pennsylvania main lines from the West and the whole of New England. It is proposed to build a great central station for the entire system at East New York, and when the improvements are completed Brooklyn will be a station on a through trunk line having connections with the entire country.
The improvements thus outlined are to cost in round figures $18,000,000. A beginning is to he made at once,—in fact the plans for the tunnel from Hunter's Point (Long Island City) to Long Acre Square (Times Square) were filed on June 22 in the office of the County Clerk of Queens. On Long Acre Square, Manhattan, the Long Island Railway is to have a Union depot, and as the Pennsylvania Company at the present time is organizing a corporation to build a bridge across the Hudson, a bridge that will connect with the station thus proposed, it is easy to see that changes are about to begin which will amount to a revolution.
Whatever the other results of that revolution may be, Long Island is certain to be benefited. When the details thus outlined are completed the Long Island Railroad will be a link in a transcontinental route, and the project is so thorough that no part of the island will be left outside the benefits of the general scheme. It means an addition of thousands to the regular home-makers of the island, a vast increase in its trade, its manufactures and its commerce generally and a thorough development of its magnificent summer resorts.
FLUSHING & NORTH SIDE
April 27, 1874
Timetable cover page
1911 LONG ISLAND RAILROAD
1929 LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD (LIRR) PUBLIC TIMETABLE
BROOKLYN - JAMAICA - QUEENS VILLAGE
Form LI-6, effective September 15, 1929. Stations listed are Flatbush Ave., Nostrand Ave., East New York, Warwick St., Autumn Ave., Union Course, Woodhaven, Woodhaven Jct., Clarenceville, Morris Park, Dunton, Jamaica, Jamaica - Union hall St., Hillside, Hollis, Bellaire, and Queens Village. 3" x 6" folded, opens accordion-style to 6" x 17 3/4".
|"Fires in the Long Island Woods", Sketches by Thomas Worth, Harper's Weekly, June 13, 1874|
|This image is of a notice poster informing the public that as of November 1, 1939, the Dunton station, among others, was being closed.|
|Victorian era Dunton Station - Submitted by Carl Ballenas, Richmond Hill Historian|
Long Island Railroad MP-54 Car Interior & Exterior
Photographed by Fred J. Weber of Jamaica, NY on November 29, 1947. Mr. Weber was a photographer for the Long Island Rail Road Claim's Department in the 1940's. The envelope was clearly marked as follows, "Car 1392 - 11/29/47 at Dunton Shops". These photos were taken of L.I.R.R. car # 1392 showing the interior of the car.
Photographed by Fred J. Weber of Jamaica, NY on August 22, 1949. These negatives are photos taken of Long Island Railroad Car # 1915 at Dunton Shops in Jamaica, Queens, New York.
Source: ebaY auction 1173136314 & 1173135712, July 2001.
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