An Abandoned Rail Line That Was Too Expensive To Repair

Nikola Petrovski

This rail line was owned and operated by the Long Island Rail Road in Queens, New York City. Its route was as follows: leaving the Main Line at Whitepot Junction, then south via Ozone Park, straight across Jamaica Bay to Hammels in the Rockaways, ending with a turn west to a terminal at Rockaway Park.

It was first integrated into the city on March 21, 1877. The idea behind this rail line was to reduce travel time by one hour for passengers on their way to the Rockaways.

Rockaway Branch Woodhaven Junction Station. 

Rockaway Branch Woodhaven Junction Station. 

This new line would mean traveling for only 30 minutes as opposed to the traditional line, which was far more time-consuming, lasting a full hour and a half.

Rockaway Branch Woodhaven Junction Station. 

Rockaway Branch Woodhaven Junction Station. 

A short delay happened due to financial problems but the rail line finally opened for the first time on August 26, 1880. After the financial troubles, there came the bankruptcy and so the company was sold under foreclosure to Austin Corbin on July 30, 1887. This man was the owner of Long Island Rail Road (LIRR), who reorganized the whole business as the New York and Rockaway Beach Railway (NY&RB).

The Southbound track at White Pot Junction. 

The Southbound track at White Pot Junction. 

 

50 years of closure. Author: Jim.henderson CC0

50 years of closure. Author: Jim.henderson CC0

The rail lines were operating relatively well, at least to the degree they could afford, that is, until May 7, 1950, when the unexpected happened: a fire caught one of the trestles across Jamaica Bay, right in the middle of the Raunt and Broad Channel stations. Though this was not the first fire (there have been around 30 fires since 1942!), it was more than enough to put the Jamaica Bay trestle out of service.

Former Glendale Junction remnant.Author: Jim.henderson CC0

Former Glendale Junction remnant.Author: Jim.henderson CC0

It was not long before the Long Island Rail Road company went bankrupt. This is when they decided that repairing the Rockaway Beach Branch south of Ozone Park would be more of a huge expense than anything else and that selling or abandoning it even, was the most reasonable next step.

Glendale Junction.Author: Jim.henderson CC0

Glendale Junction.Author: Jim.henderson CC0

However, the New York City thought that this was a profitable opportunity and so it bought the line on June 11, 1952, for a total sum of 8,500,000 dollars. The New York City Transit Authority closed the line during the winter of 1955–1956, in order to rebuild it.

Incline from Atlantic Branch on Atlantic Avenue, today it serves as a bus parking lot. Author: Jim.henderson CC0

Incline from Atlantic Branch on Atlantic Avenue, today it serves as a bus parking lot. Author: Jim.henderson CC0

Underpass for the northbound track. 

Underpass for the northbound track. 

Once complete, the city began operating it under a new name, the IND Rockaway Line, on June 26, 1956, but the northern portion of the line was never repaired and reactivated due to potentially high costs of doing so.

LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch where homeless people gather. Author: Robert C CC BY-SA 2.0

LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch where homeless people gather. Author: Robert C CC BY-SA 2.0

Today, this part of the rail line is abandoned and has turned into a wild place for hikers, adrenalin seekers, homeless people and for the rest of the outdoor adventurers to use.