Metropolitan Ave. bridge, with a view to the north. The Sanitation Department
apparently does not come up to the right of way very often.
Walking towards the Montauk LIRR branch, we come across this very large open field. People on the walking tour suggest that this field might be property of NYCDOT, although this has not been confirmed. Interesting property line curvature in this area. Towards the back of the property, a road curves around the perimeter of the property. According to old LIRR maps, there was once a two-track cutoff, from the Montauk line to the Rockaway Beach line, that followed the general path of the road. There was also an old "HJ Heinz Company" factory that once was located on this property, but it has been subsequently torn down.
This area is located on the east side of the ROW.
Jim Guthrie adds some insight to the property line configuration question: "There were active connections with the Montauk Branch on both the northeast and south west quadrants -- which is why the property line is the way it is. The northeast quadrant was disconnected in the late 1940s, but the track remained to serve a local industry".
Oldnyc.com frequent contributor Neil Sullivan has some thoughts on this as well: "Around the Montauk connection area, you still can see rails of the connection between the two lines in the south west quadrant. There is even a siding on it with its bumping block right at the foot of Union Turnpike. The apartment house on the other side of the turnpike, which I believe is called "The Crescent", had a big part in killing the line for conversion for subway use, from what I have heard."
Another Oldnyc.com contributor, Derek Stadler, adds his insights to the discussion: "I used to live on 69th Avenue between Sybilla Street and Metropolitan Avenue; a stone's throw away from the old Rockaway Beach Branch. I remember as a kid, going "up Heinz" (this was the neighborhood name for the lot where the Heinz Factory was) and climbing up the landfill where the tracks were located (this was near where that burned down trestle was that crosses over the Montauk Branch) and riding my sled down the landfill. The single track that connected the Montauk Line with the Rockaway Beach, just south of the Parkside station, was purely visible at the foot of 69th Avenue, and I believe still is. I guess this would have been the north-east connection. It left the Montauk track shortly after the Montauk Line crosses over Union Turnpike, and ran right behind the Heinz factory. The tracks then crossed at-grade over the truck entrance to Heinz. This entrance is accessible from 69th Avenue. I don't know if there were ever any grade crossing guards there. The at-grade tracks at the Heinz entrance should still be visible today since they repeatedly paved over the tracks, and the Heinz trucks always wore down the pavement until the tracks were visible once again."
Mr. Stadler continues: "I know that the Heinz building was torn down. It had become Modern Maid Food. Another thing, the Heinz building used the LIRR as a freight service as well. There was an additional track that ran "smack up" against the building, between Heinz and the previously mentioned Montauk/Rockaway connection track. I remember in 1977 or 1978 hearing this loud "bang". A locomotive had derailed one of its boxcars and sent the box car crashing on it's side, landing on the track and grade cross track of the Montauk/Rockaway connection. Also, in regards to the burned down trestle over the Montauk Line, I think a lot of the lumber from the bridge was kept in the Heinz lot for a long time. As a kid, I remember singing huge pieces of wood simply laying in the Heinz lot (I recall they smelled like soot).
The vacant field area, just south of Parkside Station on the east side of the tracks and west of 69th Avenue, was once a pipe yard. Freight trains used the North-East Montauk/Rockaway connection for service to this pipe yard - meaning they would leave the Montauk line, pass by the Heinz company at that grade crossing by the Heinz entrance, and then deliver to the pipe yard. One thing that confuses me is that, when this connection did service the Montauk and Rockaway Line, how did it connect. The track must have elevated to the landfill level of the Rockaway Beach branch. As I recall, there is no sign of this elevation today or they tore it down. Unless, it was only used prior to the grade crossing elimination of the Rockaway Branch. That would mean that those tracks that I saw as a kid at the Heinz entrance were over 80 years old. Also, the pipe yard became a lumber yard in later years."
Oldnyc.com contributor JJ Earl provides us with this additional information:
"The line between The Montauk was built in 1909 and was known as "The Glendale
Cutoff". It was built just the way we see it today and never had
a grade crossing. It was built to connect the New York and Rockaway
Beach Line with the Main Line in conjunction with electrification and giving
a route to Penn Station. Also, the Heinz warehouse did not connect
to the elevated section. There was no need for this since all traffic
was between the branch and the western terminals. The sidings were
just that; Industrial spurs."
A large Home Depot store and parking lot are found west of ROW.
Oldnyc.com contributor JJ Earl adds: "On the west side
of the bank, where Home Depot now stands, was the G.E. warehouse. Before
GE (in the 50s) the whole area between the railroad rights-of-way, Woodhaven
Blvd and Metropolitan Ave. was a farm owned by a Mr. Goldberg and the sidings
in this area were known as Goldberg's Farm. The freight crew crossed from
#2 EB to #1 WB at a crossover east of the Union Turnpike overpass known
as ‘Goldberg's Crossover'."
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