of the ROW as the train is leaving the area. Notice how there are
no signal towers or signal lights of any sort along the ROW. Train
engineers have to use extreme caution when proceeding along the ROW, since
they have complete authority over the train's progress. The Bay Ridge
Line is very old, and although at one time it did have electronic signaling
for rail traffic, those signals have long been removed.
Along the ROW, an old brick railroad building peeks through the trees. From our vantage point, it was hard to tell what the building was used for. It was on the southern portion of the ROW, in the Borough Park section of Brooklyn.
OldNYC.com contributor Joe Kelly tells us this interesting story about
the branch: "I grew up near the 65th Street ROW of the Bay Ridge branch
of the LIRR. When I was young, it was a very busy route for reefers
carrying produce from the south and west to Long Island and to the northeast
via the Hell gate bridge connection with the New Haven. These reefers
were car ferried to the foot of 65th Street near 7th Avenue there was a
most unusual facility. The ROW is very deep there and there was a
coal yard along the top of the ROW. It was called Somers & Conzen
Coal. They operated an inclined elevator from underneath the track
on a siding at that point to the top of the coal bunkers along the top
of the ROW. Coal was dropped by gravity from the hopper cars, and
carried by the elevator to the top of the storage bunkers. It was
a long climb."
Another section of the ROW in Brooklyn. The ROW is fairly wide at this area. It was built wide enough to support a four track configuration at many points. Today, many of the sections only contain one track, which supports both directions of rail traffic (not at the same time, of course!).
Interesting fact about planned usage for the ROW is found at Steve Anderson's
web site nycroads.com. In the 1960's, during the Interstate construction
phase in New York City, Robert Moses had proposed that the planned Cross-Brooklyn
Expressway was to have most of it's ROW parallel and sometimes use the
Bay Ridge Branch Railroad ROW! Some of the areas, like the one pictured
here, might have been able to support a double-decked 3-lane per tier expressway.
But many sections of the ROW, like the section that passes under Ocean
Parkway, would have had a very difficult time supporting the expressway
ROW. Community and political opposition killed the Cross-Brooklyn
Expressway in the late 1960's. However, it would have been quite
an engineering feet to build the Cross-Brooklyn Expressway utilizing portions
of the Bay Ridge Branch ROW. If you are interested in reading more
about this interesting expressway proposal, click on this link: www.nycroads.com.
A house stands next to the ROW. This is the area where the ROW is trenched, so that street crossings could go over the ROW.
This is picture was taken in the area between Ocean Parkway and Coney Island Avenue.
At one time, freight trains was a vital resource in the transportation infrastructure of New York City. The LIRR had used several of their lines for freight operations in order to meet the needs of businesses along the various routes. Sometimes, partnerships between competing railroad companies were formed in order to provide freight service to particular areas. The New York and Manhattan Beach Railroad had an agreement with the LIRR that allowed the LIRR to run freight trains utilizing the NY & Manhattan Beach Railroad right of way.
Wallace P. Heller, an Oldnyc.com contributor, tells us this interesting information: " I spent my early years living in Brooklyn near the former ROW of the NY & Manhattan Beach Railroad. I was only about eight years old but remember when the LIRR (NY&MB) still ran a car or two to one of the few industries in Sheepshead Bay. If I remember correctly, the cars went to the Permatex Company on Avenue Y and also to the John J. Doody Lumber Company near Avenue Z and 17th Street. The line was originally double tracked but only one track was in operation. The LIRR ran some kind of funny looking steam engine with cars for the above industries. There was a glass company that made swizzle sticks near the lumber company that could have received loads of silica."
Walter adds "Between 1939 and 1996 my parents had an apartment on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn on the site of the Race Track terminal , across the street from the entrance of the Sheepshead Bay Race Track. Before the apartment complex was built on the East Side of Ocean Avenue between Avenues X and Y there were the remnants of a yellow brick walk which I believe ran between the race track terminal and the entrance to the race track. In about 1938 or 1939 I remember the remains of the LIRR race track spur near East 16th Street and Neck Road. This is in addition to the two tracks which ran from what was then the BMT Brighton line and the race track. The yellow brick walkway previously mentioned was visible until the apartments were built on the East side of Ocean Avenue after WWII".
Oldnyc.com contributor Bernie Spinelli has his own story to tell about this particular site of the LIRR Bay Ridge Branch ROW: "I grew up (between 1942 and 1954) on Webster Avenue and Ocean Parkway. As a railfan I got to know the Bay Ridge Branch and its operations pretty well. I never passed up the opportunity to watch the daily way freight work in the Parkville yard. The motive power was usually 2 B-2's and a wooden hack. Occasionally a consolidation would be used running tender first. The way freight would pull down east of the yard and then cross over onto the westbound main and back into the yard. There was a coal yard siding on the yard lead which would require a flying switch movement. It worked every time. All the New Haven freights were pulled by back to back cab units (numbers 0159, 0157 etcetera) and the older dual coupled box units. Don't know what the speed limit was but these freights would fly.
I remember an engine house and small yard to house the New Haven units. It was just west of the 65th Yard which we called Sunset Yard. The branch was signaled, at least the signals at Ocean Parkway and the Parkville Yard were interlocked by College Tower. The normal aspect for Ocean Parkway was yellow over red. College Tower would clear it up to green over red when a train was due.
I made friends with the second trick towerman at College. His name was Smitty and he had worked for the D&RGW at one time. I spent many a night in the Snug Tower. Earlier on I guess College Tower was also used for the interlocking of the main line that ran along side of the Brighton Beach line. The track layout at College Tower showed evidence of tracks connecting with the existing plant. The interlocking machine in the tower still had the old handles for the signals and switches that controlled the former train movements."
Oldnyc.com contributor "Shelly" has this interesting bit of information to say about freight operations along the LIRR Bay Ridge Branch: "At East 92 St and Foster, the overpass has a Pennsylvania Railroad facade and traffic goes thru to the other street. The area is located near the Canarsie market. A siding appears to be at that location too - I saw a box car one summer sitting right next to the market. There is a stair case leading up to a trestle at Remsen Avenue and you can sometimes see boxcars on the trestle in the mornings at Ralph Avenue. The tracks by MacDonald Avenue: there were a lot of tracks taken up when the Shop Rite was constructed. The area is now the parking lot for Shop Rite - I remember seeing multi tracks there when I looked down from the F train towards Ocean Parkway. This area had to be some sort of exchange point. The street that is over there is unusual and it must have had something to do with trolley service at one point."
Oldnyc.com contributor Usher Kuperman adds this bit of information:
"I believe that there was a connection here to the South Brooklyn Railroad
that ran on the surface on McDonald Avenue. Traces of this connecting
track can be seen on McDonald Avenue just south of Avenue I, curving toward
the Shop Rite entrance."
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