The LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch starts at the old "White Pot" junction in Rego Park, off of the LIRR mainline line. This is a LIRR train heading east. While talking the picture, our group of Subtalk people were exploring this area. The train engineers had to have spotted us, since the field where we were standing is very open. A couple of the Subtalk guys were wearing standard issue orange MTA workman vests, so I don't think the LIRR engineer thought much of us. We were careful to stay away from the main tracks, for obvious safety reasons!
Oldnyc.com contributor Bernard Ente shares with us this Oldnyc.com public service announcement: "A warning to anybody who might want to explore the route - it is very heavy with thorns, poison ivy, and ticks. There are also occasional packs of wild dogs and the rare meeting with some homeless people. Not the garden spot of the world, is it?"
Oldnyc.com contributor Jim Guthrie writes: "Where does the Rockaway Beach Branch begin? Whitepot is where it started in the late 1950s, but before that, it started at Win Tower, located at the junction with the Port Washington branch. The last of the branch was actually abandoned in the 1980s, when the West Side Yard opened and the track on the inbound side was disconnected between Rego Park and Win. In fact, the switch to this track at Rego Park was controlled by Win (and later by Harold) as was the connection at Win. It would officially be marked as the Rockaway Beach Branch as the distant signal for Win was marked "R41" (IIRC) right until the end in the 1980s. Corporately, the NY and Rockaway Beach Railway actually paid for the additional two tracks from Harold Avenue -- so one might claim that the LIRR uses two tracks of the branch even today -- but that's a real stretch".
Bernard Ente has this information to share with us about this particular area: "The station near Whitepot Underjump on the main line was called Matawok. It was abandoned in 1922. I am not 100% sure but I think Rockaway trains also stopped on the main line at the old Grand Street (Grand Avenue) station in Maspeth. They definitely stopped at Rego Park."
Bernard also adds: "I lived near the line (one block away on Cromwell
Crescent) from 1955-1976. We played near the tracks even though they
were "live". Nobody every got hurt even though there were no fences.
The only tragedy I remember is 12 year old Frankie Tartaro getting electrocuted
in June of 1963 when he climbed one of the transmission towers and grabbed
A map of the route of the LIRR Rockaway Beach Branch's right-of-way.
Map provided by Harry Hassler; original map creator unknown.
This is a picture of a westbound LIRR train. The camera is pointing towards the east. For the ten minutes or so that we stayed at White Pot junction, four to five trains passed us. If we were in this area during the weekday morning or evening rush hours, there would be a lot more trains passing us within this time frame. It's a very busy train corridor.
Jim Guthrie adds: "In the photograph of the Main Line looking east from
the underjump, note the footbridge. That is all that remains of Manitowak
Station -- built to serve the Crescents and local community on the main
line, supplementing Rego Park on the Rockaway Beach Branch -- literally
a few hundred feet away. A companion footbridge crossed the branch about
150 feet south of the junction at an angle, allowing passengers to walk
toward Woodhaven Blvd from Manitowak. This bridge remained until the 1950s,
White Pot junction. The main line tracks are situated above the tunnel. This is the westbound connection of the Rockaway Branch to the mainline. It is a one-track configuration. When we went in to the tunnel, we found a lot of dust and garbage. Most of the tunnel is covered with graffiti. The end of the tunnel is sealed with track bed ballast. At one time, the track emerged from the tunnel and gently looped to connect with the westbound main line. The main line was once a six track configuration at this merger point. You can still see the remnants of the old Rockaway track right-of-ways on the Woodhaven Boulevard trestle.
OldNYC.com contributor JJ Earl, a retired LIRR freight/yard conductor, describes for us the track configuration, naming and numbering scheme for the LIRR tracks in this area: "All LIRR traffic is east and west (of New York) with tracks and trains being numbered according to their direction. Eastbound are even numbers, Westbound are odd numbers. At Whitepot Junction, the six tracks had four Main Line tracks and two Rockaway Beach tracks on the outside. The two express main line tracks are 1&2. The two local tracks are 3&4. The two outside tracks were Rockaway Beach 1 & Rockaway Beach 2. From the south side; Rockaway Beach 2, Main Line 4, Main Line 2, Main Line 1, Main Line 3 and Rockaway Beach 1."
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