Sunday, March 15, 2009

LIRR - West Hempstead to Mineola Line

The terrific photo below (taken by Max Hubacher) is a scene from a "railfan" excursion train that ran on October 26, 1952. It depicts an old steam engine crossing Hempstead Turnpike on a sunny fall afternoon, looking west toward Broad St.

The LIRR West Hempstead line dates back to 1893 and used to run all the way up to Mineola. (Most of the right of way still exists and can still be seen by following the LIPA electric lines along the ROW) The original engines were all steam, until Oct. 1926, when the LIRR electrified the line. In addition to commuter service, the LIRR also ran freight trains that hauled, among other things, produce from the numerous Long Island farms to points west. (Can you imagine getting stuck waiting for a freight train to pass on Hempstead Turnpike?) At the time the photo was shot, the LIRR was still running freight trains along the line, and did so until 1956 when the operation became unprofitable. Commuter service along that portion had already ended sometime in the '30s, and by the 60's the tracks were torn up, leaving the West Hempstead station as the terminus of the current line.

To get the "now" shot, I lined up the telephone pole holding up the lines along the LIRR ROW on the left side of the "then" shot. I'm not sure if it's the same pole, but it still must be pretty close.

Two interesting points of note about the 'then' picture. 1) Looks like Hempstead Turnpike was still a dirt road. 2) In the backgound you will notice a sign the says 'Jacoves'. Jacoves was a liquor store that only recently closed up, three years ago or so.


Anonymous said...

Looking at the car in the first photo, Hemp. Tpke would have been paved. What might give the impression of a dirt road is, the larger grass curb and a parking lane. In the newer photo, there is a small grass curb and the parking lane has been eliminated. Love the photos.

Jacob said...

You must be right. Roads were being paved throughout the County years earlier and I'm sure Hempstead Tpke had to have been among the first roads to get paved. In any case, I'm sure there are people around to verify it.

Anonymous said...

My Uncle remembers train service from mineola to west hempstead in the 1940's. This rial spur was once used by the hempstead line when there was a fire near the Floral park station. I remember as the evening trains all passed by my backyard.

Anonymous said...

If you use Google maps with an aerial view, you can still see where the tracks went -- from W. Hemp. to Garden City. Start looking at the WH train station, and follow the track north.

Ian Stovall said...

That was the old Jacoves, they moved a bit east to their own building late '60's?

Freight operations continued into the late '60's at least - you can still make out the freight siding ROW east of the station, Nassau Mutual Fuel and some sort of furniture factory occupied the land between the station & HGD.