Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Discussion of the past and present operations of the Long Island Rail Road.

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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby Crabman1130 » Tue Jan 21, 2014 2:39 pm

keyboardkat wrote:
Crabman1130 wrote:Why would the RR give up the connection between CLP and West Hempstead?

I think the reason had to do with the fact that the state wanted the railroad to eliminate the grade crossings between CLP and WH, or maybe they wanted the railroad to install automatic gates, including the very wide crossing of Hempstead Turnpike. The expense was too great. These crossings were unprotected except by crossbuck signs, so a train movement had to be protected by flagmen.

Back in 1959, I was on an RDC fantrip, and we ran from Mineola down the Garden City Secondary to Hempstead Crossing. We had to stop and flag every grade crossing. We even stopped to talk to a man walking his dog on Stewart Avenue. Only the northeast leg of the Hempstead Crossing wye was still in existence, and we curved around onto the Central extension, facing east. The engineer changed ends and it was back to Jamaica via Garden City, along the Hempstead Branch. Floral Park was still at grade level then.

The gates across Hempstead Turnpike probably had more to do with it then anything else. But I would think having the flexibility that connecting the 2 lines offered would count for something.
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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby hoggercom » Sat Jan 25, 2014 12:22 pm

pineywoodsman wrote:From enough reading I know that there was once a line that used to run south from Mineola to West Hempstead, and the Right of Way seems easily defined the whole route by power lines. But these do not look like the typical power lines LIPA (now PSEG) uses for regular transmission & distribution, and look more like those used by the LIRR and appear to be DC. They run south from the Mineola substation (by Nassau) down through Garden City. Looking at the poles it appears they're owned by the LIRR, perhaps so is the R.O.W. I'm not sure. I'm curious as to what power they carry. I've always assumed the RR has a dedicated feed from the grid for signals & 3rd rail, but that's not always easily visible. But I'm taking a wild guess they're using the former ROW to get power to Mineola from West Hempstead, where there's even larger substations.
Here's a google streetview of the poles I'm talking about, some appear to be quite old.
http://goo.gl/maps/d4gmG

And photos I took recently of the poles as they cross Old Country Road & head south.
Image

Image

Anyway I appreciate any answers...always been curious about this line. I'd love to see some old photos of when it was in operation.



What you see in these pictures, are in fact, railroad wires. But only on the bottom crossarm, the one containing 4 conductors. These are actually two separate, 2-leg circuits, about 2400 volts AC each, which provide power to railroad signal and speed control circuits at 25hz and at 100hz, respectively. They are maintained still, by the High Tension Department.

Who is this little known department, High Tension? They are (in simple terms), the equivalent of a very small utility company. They consist of about twenty highly trained linemen who build, maintain, and repair the overhead high voltage circuits on the railroad. Their main "customer" would be the Signal Department, who depend on them to provide the power for their signal apparatus, controls, and systems. They also maintain feeders for the Substation department, and high voltage circuits used to power various railroad buildings, facilities, and complexes.

Back to the pictures... Why do these particular wires run out here, on the public streets? Well, this used to be a right of way, where tracks once ran many years ago. These circuits are part of a redundant ring feed, which can be fed from multiple sources and locations to maintain quality, uninterrupted signal power, in the event of storm damage, etc... much like a regular power company.

Speakng of which, the upper crossarm with the 3 phase circuit on them is used and maintained by LIPA for regular residential/commercial power service. These poles are typically jointly maintained/repaired by the railroad and the local utility company.
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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby fredmcain » Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:00 am

I just recently discovered this thread. I have always been fascinated with this line. We lived in the vicinity from 1962 - 1965 and I have some memories I can share but first a question:

Does anybody recall ever seeing a discussion or proposal on reviving this line? I thought I read about this a long time ago. Perhaps it was back in the 1980s or maybe '90s. Does that compute?

A new Mineola-West Hempstead line was in the works either as a branch of the Long Island Rail Road or perhaps a new light rail line. Light rail had the edge, if I remember right. What ever became of those plans? Does anybody know?

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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby fredmcain » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:16 pm

Steve,

Nice! Very, very nice! Thanks for sharing that. I don't believe I've seen that page before. Some really neat historic photos in there. However, there might be a discrepancy where it was stated that "The powers-that-be wanted the grade crossings eliminated if the LIRR wished to continue Mineola-Country Life Press-West Hempstead-Valley Stream passenger service..." Seems to me that I once read a report somewhere where the New York PUC was mandating that the LIRR install SIGNALS at the crossings, not necessarily eliminate them. The Pennsy (which owned LIRR in those days) balked and applied to have passenger services discontinued. Stupid. You'd think that the PUC would have commuters' interests more in mind than that. Hmmmmn, Guess not.

Anyhow, can the abandoned portion ever be restored? I mean, the right-of-way is still there. It's just a matter of finding the $ and placating the "NIMBY's".

Regards,
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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby fredmcain » Tue Oct 24, 2017 12:52 pm

Well, I did find this, which was posted on another forum: http://www.city-data.com/forum/long-isl ... als-2.html

If you read through that thread, one of the posters mentioned seeing a proposal in Newsday. The post is about 7 years old. Not sure about the accuracy of the Newsday piece but this does show that at least a few people have given some thought to a revival of the line. But it almost sounds to me more like people's opinions than hard, cold plans.

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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby Backshophoss » Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:51 pm

Most of the ROW's are now used as High tension power distribution lines for Public service LI power Co.
About the only salvagable ROW is the Garden/Mitchell Secondary all the way to where B tower was located,
after relocating a bunch of power line poles/towers.
B tower is where the Central Branch to Babylon and the Mainline to Greenport split.
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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby nyandw » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:17 pm

Thank you Fred!

Please indicate where this is: "... However, there might be a discrepancy where it was stated that "The powers-that-be wanted the grade crossings eliminated if the LIRR wished to continue Mineola-Country Life Press-West Hempstead-Valley Stream passenger service..." Thank you. Best, Steve


More Info: http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/westhempstead/west%20hempstead.htm
ABANDONED LINE TO COUNTRY LINE PRESS STATION - 90% down the page link. :-)

Image
Ex-LIRR ROW of West Hempstead Branch, Cathedral Ave., West Hempstead to Mineola view NE 2014 Archive: Google Maps

Image
Country Life Press razed ROW view towards West Hempstead 12/1964 Photo: Brad Phillips
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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby fredmcain » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:12 am

Backshophoss wrote:Most of the ROW's are now used as High tension power distribution lines for Public service LI power Co.
About the only salvagable ROW is the Garden/Mitchell Secondary all the way to where B tower was located,
after relocating a bunch of power line poles/towers.
B tower is where the Central Branch to Babylon and the Mainline to Greenport split.


Your quote tends to suggest that the Right-of-way (ROW) was CONVERTED into a ROW for High Tension power lines. If that were true, that wouldn't quite jibe with my memory. I lived in the area 1962-1965 and can testify to the fact that the power lines had ALWAYS been there even before the tracks were pulled out. However, maybe I misunderstood what you meant. The ROW that still exists could easily support a new single track line if the adjacent homeowners would allow that. As I posted nearby, the LIRR does appear to have a long-term "wish list" to do that. However, we would need to verify the accuracy or even the existence of such a "wish list".

I should probably add that some of the ROW between Country Life Press and Mineola HAS been lost and would need to be reacquired.

If someone were to tell me that they believe the LIRR has more pressing priorities than the rebuilding of the West Hempstead branch, well, I guess I'd have a hard time disputing that.

Regards,
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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby fredmcain » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:29 am

nyandw wrote:Thank you Fred!

Please indicate where this is: "... However, there might be a discrepancy where it was stated that "The powers-that-be wanted the grade crossings eliminated if the LIRR wished to continue Mineola-Country Life Press-West Hempstead-Valley Stream passenger service..." Thank you. Best, Steve


More Info: http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/westhempstead/west%20hempstead.htm


Steve,

Yeah, that's the problem, I can't remember anymore but I suspect it was a document I got in an e-mail from a guy named Jim Guthrie. (No relation to Arlo that I know of) :)

I saw the website that you quoted that from so you have a good source there. But what makes me skeptical about it is that fact that the electrified zone of the LIRR had NUMEROUS grade crossing (nearly all with gates) and I hadn't heard of such a mandate at any of the other crossings. I believe there are still a few grade crossings left today although they have been disappearing fast.

There was one grade crossing just west of the WH station in the mid 1960s that had flashing lights but no gates. I think it was the only crossing like that in the electric zone that I'd ever seen.

So, I strongly suspect that the mandate for the WH-Mineola segment was to install automatic gates, not eliminated the crossings but I'm not sure how we can verify this.

The pictures on that website you cited are wonderful. The WH-Mineola line was rarely photographed. The picture of that freight was truly remarkable. Notice how "rural" that scene still looked!
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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby nyandw » Fri Oct 27, 2017 9:15 pm

[quote="fredmcain"][quote="nyandw"]Thank you Fred!

It was just trying to determine if my site had the "... discrepancy where it was stated that "The powers-that-be wanted the grade crossings eliminated if the LIRR wished to continue Mineola-Country Life Press-West Hempstead-Valley Stream passenger service..." to correct it as I have endeavored over the last 15+ years to NOT put political material on my site.
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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby fredmcain » Mon Oct 30, 2017 6:37 am

nyandw wrote:
fredmcain wrote:
nyandw wrote:Thank you Fred!

It was just trying to determine if my site had the "... discrepancy where it was stated that "The powers-that-be wanted the grade crossings eliminated if the LIRR wished to continue Mineola-Country Life Press-West Hempstead-Valley Stream passenger service..." to correct it as I have endeavored over the last 15+ years to NOT put political material on my site.


Hi Steve,

I guess I didn't realize that that was your site. At issue is whether the State of New York tried to mandate the installation of grade crossing signals on this line OR complete and total grade crossing elimination. I tend to lean toward the former but if that is incorrect on your site, in my opinion at least, that is soooo minor that I wouldn't even worry about it.

Still, it would be interesting to find out for sure but I don't know how. This little-known back water of the Long Island Rail Road has very nearly been forgotten. Even at the time it was abandoned people didn't seem to know much about it. I asked many people many, many questions as to why they were no longer using this line and all I could get were vague answers like "Well, I guess they didn't need it anymore". Yeah, right.

If we could find that guy Guthrie again he might know. I think he also e-mailed me a photo copy of a public time table for the line from the 1930s. There used to be a forum for the LIRR that I lurked on every once and a while but I can't seem to find it anymore. Has it been taken down? If so, that's a shame 'cause they had a lot of nice pictures on there.

There is in my mind one mystery about the WH-CLP-Mineola line that has never been completely solved. Why did the railroad feel it was necessary to electrify this line in 1926 in the first place? They only got barely 20 years (if that) of good out of the electrification before it was obvious it was not needed. Did they have another plan for the line that was never implemented? Who knows? We may never know for sure.

Regards,
Fred M. Cain


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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby workextra » Mon Oct 30, 2017 11:12 am

Manpowe was less expensive in those days and LIRR did run motors in freight.
They also electrified the lower Montauk and Whitestone branch both branches are affected today. One completely gone as early as 1932 the other now a freight secondary. Same for the garden Mitchell secondary.
The receiving yard even had 3rd rail and till this day there’s still a few third rail timbers remaining though very few.

As for the Mineola-WM connection, I was told Passenger loop service ended earlier like in the 30s. And the line was regularly used for freight. Once the freight dried up by the 1960, the line was used for rare loco hauled Equipment moved and then just left to die.
With the line from WM-ClP in bad shape and too much for a company in really bad financial shape they just let it go.
A decision today to prove to be on the list of top 10 piss Poor route decisions ever made.
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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby fredmcain » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:01 pm

Memories of the West Hempstead Line

I have been meaning to share some of my memories of this line when we lived in the area 1962-65.

In the summer of ’62 we moved into a house on East Pine Street in Garden City a few blocks east from both the Country Life Press (CLP) station and a few blocks south of what was left of the Meadowbrook line to the north.
I was 10 years old and my parents gave me very strict instructions to NEVER venture off our block without explicit permission. Yeah, right. It didn’t take me very long to start exploring and checking out the railroad situation on my bicycle.
I began hanging out at the CLP station and watching trains there on a regular basis. On my first visit in the late summer of 1962 it was a very hot day and there was a strong odor of creosote from the ties and the wooden edge of the platform. I got some of the gooey stuff on my shoes off the wooden edge of the platform!

I saw what was left of the West Hempstead (WH) branch. The track was still there and I THINK it still had a third rail (Not 100% sure on the 3rd rail part) but the junction switch had been removed. The track simply ended at a pile of old, partly rotted ties. The rails were a dark color of rust suggesting that it hadn’t been used for at least a couple of years.

On the north side of CLP, the track that headed north to Hempstead Crossing (HC) along with the southeast leg of the wye were both long gone and the area was getting redeveloped into a park-and-ride lot. In fact, it was many years later that I even learned there was such a thing as “Hempstead Crossing”.

The unused WH branch still crossed Franklin Ave southwest from CLP and was protected by crossbucks. However, I remember the rails as having been paved over. I crossed this everyday on my way to and from school. The way I remember this was that the line ran right smack dab through the intersection of Franklin and 2nd Street at a 45 degree angle. I often wondered what that was like for a train to try and go through there. If an MU train had fewer that about four cars, it might not have spanned the gap in the third rail.

There were also several other crossings that had been similarly paved over. I cannot pinpoint exactly when it happened but sometime between 1962 and ’65 I crossed over the track on Franklin and noticed that the tracks were now gone completely. The rails were cut back all the way to the north side of Hempstead Blvd.

I had a very good childhood friend who lived in the neighborhood which lay between the Hempstead and WH branches. There were pedestrian tunnels that ran underneath both lines. We used to walk our bikes down the steps then pedal through the tunnel to the other side where we’d have to walk the bikes back up the steps. After the WH branch was removed, the tunnel was filled in with dirt and rip rap and a path made through the bushes and over the right of way.
One fine day I rode my bicycle all the way down to WH and watched a Valley Stream-bound train leave from there. (I didn’t tell my parents, obviously). The train was a two-car MU shuttle of “MP54s”. Just west of the depot the single track line ran along a city street for a short distance “side-of-the-road” in a typical Midwestern interurban style.

I also have some very good memories of the north end of the line that ran south from Mineola (Nassau Tower) and a connection to the Meadowbrook line but I’ll put that on another thread.

Sometimes today, on a very hot day, I’ll go past a place with a new fence or parking lot that was recently sealed and get a good whiff of creosote. The very odor of the creosote brings back vivid memories of many, many years ago watching trains at CLP when I was just a boy. And they were, to be sure, REAL trains unlike the modern stuff you see nowadays which are probably more popular with commuters but they just don’t seem as exciting to me as the good ol’ MP54s did.
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Re: Old Mineola to West Hempstead line

Postby fredmcain » Mon Oct 30, 2017 12:19 pm

workextra wrote: <cut> As for the Mineola-WM connection, I was told Passenger loop service ended earlier like in the 30s. And the line was regularly used for freight. Once the freight dried up by the 1960, the line was used for rare loco hauled Equipment moved and then just left to die. With the line from WM-ClP in bad shape and too much for a company in really bad financial shape they just let it go.
A decision today to prove to be on the list of top 10 piss Poor route decisions ever made.


From what I have been able to piece together - and this needs to be checked out 'cause I might be wrong - regular MU passenger on the WH - Mineola line ended around 1935. However, I think it was revived again during WWII on the WH-CLP-Mitchell Field segment. Also, there were a couple of daily (M-F) MU dead head moves that lasted into the 1950s which were later cut down to just one daily move.

After that, the daily "Meadowbrook" freight turn would often return to the Long Island City yard using the WH line to avoid evening rush hour traffic. As you stated above, that evidently ended around 1960. Also, Doubleday was a big rail customer on the line as well and they appear to have ceased receiving rail shipments around that time as well.

Not sure what you meant by "a piss poor route decision". Did you mean building the line or abandoning it was a poor decision? Personally, I think abandoning ANY rail line is a bad idea 'cause if things change and you discover you need it again, it's gone. :(

Regards,
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