S. Berliner, III's Central Railroad of Long Island Page keywords = Central Railroad Flushing Garden City Central Park Bethpage rail road way Long Island LIRR Pennsylvania Pennsy PRR Berlinerwerke New York Atlantic

Updated:   17 Mar 2015; 13:20  ET
[Page converted 20 Sep 2012; created 17 Feb 2002>

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/lirr-crr.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/lirr-crr.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


Central Railroad of Long Island Page



LIRR Keystone

[This page was separated out from my LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD Cont. page 5 on 17 Feb 2002; you might wish to see that and the main LI Rail Road page, et seq., and the LI Railroads page, also.]

NOTE:  Page size was limited by HTML to some 30kB; thus, I was forced to add this continuation page to fit the LIRR and related information, as well as several other continuation pages.
You may wish to visit my RR page, as well.

There are two related topics here on these pages:
(1) The Long Island Rail Road and (2) Long Island railroad information.

There IS a difference!

The Long Island Rail Road is the official name of the oldest Class 1 railroad still operating under its original name and charter (the B&O was older but has been subsumed into CSX).  Although there remain some offical documents with the two words combined, the correct name of the LIRR has the two words separately, "Long Island Rail Road"!

There were and are other railroads on Long Island - these also are (or will be) covered on the LI Railroads page.

However, on this particular page we are specifically concerned with the
Central Railroad of Long Island, sometimes called the "Stewart Road"
or the "Stewart Line", part of which still serves as the
Central Branch of the Long Island Rail Road.


If these links don't work, click "back" and scroll down!

NOTE:  To conserve space, I have severely truncated the index on this page; see the LIRR index page.

    including LIRR boxcabs #401, the world's first production diesel road switcher,
    #402 (first and second), #403, and many others.

Brooklyn Eastern District Terminal Railroad,
    and its successor roads, the New York Cross Harbor Railroad and New York Regional Rail.

Degnon Terminal Railroad, etc.


On the (first) LIRR page:
    Long Island Sunrise-Trail Chapter (National Railway Historical Society)
    Sunrise Trail Division (Northeastern Region, National Model Railroad Association)
    Steam Locomotive #35 Restoration Committee

Restoration of Pennsy Class G5 Long Island Rail Road 4-6-0 #35
    Steam Locomotive #39 Restoration
(Railroad Museum of Long island)
Restoration of Pennsy Class G5 Long Island Rail Road 4-6-0 #39

On LIRR Continuation Page 1a:


On the LIRR Continuation Page 2:

Odd Incident at Wreck Lead (on the LIRR)
LIRR and LI Railroad Miscellany
Converted LIRR HEP/Cab Control Units
Central RR of LI - moved to this page 5 on 17 Dec 00.
Dashing Dan and Dottie

On the LIRR Continuation Page 3:

Nassau County Police 2nd Pct. Booth D/Locust Tower
Victorian Stations Still Standing on the LIRR

On the LIRR Continuation Page 4:

Blissville and Laurel Hill Sidings, Maspeth Yard, and Fresh Pond Yard
    and NY&AR/NYCRR Interchange info.
  LIRR MISCELLANY - continued

On the LIRR Continuation Page 5:

Central RR of LI - moved to this page 17 Feb 2002.
LIRR DE30AC and DM30AC Locomotives
Victorian LIRR Stations (continued)
    Locust Valley Station
    Glen Street Station (update)

On the LIRR Continuation Page 6:

Nassau County Police 2nd Pct. Booth D/Locust Tower (cont'd)

On this Central RR of LI Page:
    Central RR of LI - moved to LIRR Cont. Page 5 on 17 Dec 2000,

and again on 17 Feb 2002 to this separate CRRof LI page.

Salisbury Plains Station ca. 1974
(Salisbury Plains Station on the LIRR Central Branch ca. 1974.)
[Photograph courtesy of A. Huneke - all rights reserved.]

    Brief History of the Central RR of LI.

On the Central RR of LI Continuation Page 1:
    Traces of the CRRofLI RoW in Flushing?.
    Central RR Bridge.
    Meadowbrook/Salisbury Plains Station.
    Bethpage Branch.

On Central RR of LI Continuation Page 2:
    General Bronze Sidings.
    Bethpage Junction "B" Tower.

On the Central RR of LI Continuation Page 3:
    Mitchel Field Aerial Views.
    WWI Long Island Map.

On the Central RR of LI Continuation Page 4:
    Mitchel Field Aerial Views.

On the LI Railroads Continuation Page:

Long Island Railroads [with a link to the NYCRR (Hell Gate)]

On separate pages:

The New York & Atlantic Railway, lessor of LIRR freight operations.

Railroad Eagles - Penn Station, Grand Central Terminal, etc.

Long Island Rail Road Historical Society.

Central Railroad of Long Island

(moved from Continuation Page 2 on 17 Dec 2000
and again on 17 Feb 2002 to this separate Central RR of LI Page)

Some Links to the CRRofLI:

Art Huneke's ARRt's ARRchives.
Steve Lynch's LIRR site.

Very Brief History of the Central RR of Long Island.

A(lexander). T(urney). Stewart, the merchant prince of Manhattan, had the bright idea of building a model city on the Hempstead Plains of west-central Long Island, which he proceeded to do; it is today's Garden City.  To serve this purpose-built suburb, he created a railroad out of older lines and new trackage built across the open plains, the Central Railroad of Long Island.  To get the bricks he needed to build this vast complex of homes and rail, he built the Nassau Brick Works in Central Park (today's Bethpage) and ran a branch line there to serve it.  Remnants of the Central line form the Central Branch of the Long Island Rail Road and are inextricably linked to William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.'s Long island Motor Parkway.

Not-Quite-So-Brief History of
the Central RR of Long Island.

(taken almost verbatim from the Webmaster's article "THE CENTRAL RAILROAD OF LONG ISLAND
(A. T. Stewart Builds/Cuts through Oyster Bay Town) -
Another Famous Right-of-Way through the Town of Oyster Bay"
in the {tbs} issue of the FREEHOLDER,
"The History Magazine of the Town of Oyster Bay", pp. {tbs}-{tbs}.)

Once upon a time, though I can't remember exactly when - - - oops!  That's not how one writes history.  But the history of the Central Railroad of Long Island is not much more than a fairy tale or bedtime story.

With the blessing of Vincent Seyfried, renowned historian of Queens and Garden City, and only incidentally author of the definitive seven-volume series, "The Long Island Rail Road - A Comprehensive History" (see the author's LIRR Bibliography), I shall give a little background into rise and fall of this strange remnant of railroad history on Long Island and in Oyster Bay town.

The Central Railroad of Long Island was conceived in the mind of that fabulous New York City "merchant prince", A(lexander). T(urney). Stewart in 1869, just four years after the end of the Civil War.  Stewart amassed an incredible fortune for his time, 1 million dollars by 1833 and twenty million dollars by 1860!  A bon vivant and patron of the arts, he got the idea of building a controlled city, elegant and refined in every way, of the finest materials money could buy.  Stewart offered an unheard of $55 per acre to the Town of hempstead on July 17, 1869 ; for the then-unheard of sum of $394,350, Stewart obtained 7,170 acres of relatively worthless land and bought an additional 1,500 acres from private parties.  This tract encompassed all the land from New Hyde Park Road on the west to the western border of the Farmingdale and from Old Country Road south to the northern boundary of the Village of Hempstead.  All told, Stewart had acquired a demesne some ten miles long by two miles deep. He laid out some 500 miles of roads and house plots of at least an acre.  The next step in Stewart's empire-building was to lay out and build a private railroad to serve his new city.  It also had to serve a new brickworks he had constructed in Central Park (now Bethpage) to supply the materials for his houses.  Starting at the East River ferries, the "Stewart Road" was to take residents directly to their residences in Garden City.  Owning the entire Hempstead Plains, Stewart had no trouble building in what was later to become Nassau County, but the Long Island Rail Road and the Flushing & North Side RR each controlled the approaches to Manhattan.

Conrad Poppenhusen and Elizur Hinsdale of the F&NS made a deal with Stewart and the Stewart Road, double tracked, was put into work from Farmingdale to New Hyde Park Road, with an extension northward to Mineola being started in October 1870.  At least 15 trains were to run each way each day and Hempstead expresses were to make the run in 30 minutes!

Many iron bridges were erected to avoid crossing public roads at grade.  One still exists to this day, flush with the ground, in the southeastern cloverleaf where Stewart Avenue crosses the Meadowbrook Parkway; this one was built for what the author assumed was a private spur to the Meadowbrook Country Club (the remains of the station are still standing off Post/Merrick Avenue).  However, look at the U.S. Army Air Corps aerial photographs of the area on my LIMP History Page 3 under the LIMP Historical Miscellany section; rather it may well have been a zigzag of Whaleneck Avenue (today's Merrick Avenue - the southern continuation from Westbury of Post Avenue).  LIRR steam locomotive #35 (moved to Oyster Bay village on 02 Aug 2001) used to sit opposite this spot in Salisbury/Eisenhower Park.

In late 1871/early 1872, Stewart and Poppenhusen determined to extend the road beyond Farmingdale to Babylon and the Fire Island ferries.  The brickworks were in full swing and the line was finished to the LIRR main just west of Merrit's Road in Farmingdale; bricks were shipped over the road the very next day after the line was opened across the LIRR.  The line was opened eastward to Bethpage Junction on May 26, 1873, and Friday, August 1, 1873, saw the first train early in the morning and full service from Hunters Pont to Babylon commenced that very afternoon.

The major competitor of the LIRR was the South Side RR of LI; it got in trouble in late 1873 and Poppenhusen bought it out on September 25, 1874.  Innovations included the use of refrigerator cars to bring fresh fish into NYC from the Babylon docks and a RR mail car (1874), with mail being sorted en route and delivered mornings and evenings (ah, what luxury!).

By 1873, Charlick and his LIRR started competing in earnest and the Poppenhusen empire began to crumble.  Rates fell far below break-even and the Poppenhusen family finally gave in and the Long Island Rail Road acquired the Central, along with its South Side subsidiary.  Things continued to head downhill and in 1876, the whole LIRR, was put in receivership.

The Central Road was abandoned between Garden City and Babylon, and elsewhere.  Only the stretch from Floral Park to Garden city and the branch to Hempstead continued in use.  Today, only the eastern end of the Central, from the junction at Farmingdale to Babylon is still (or, more correctly, again) in use.  The old right of way from Garden City eastward to where it is cut by the Meadowbrook Parkway is still used occasionally by freights of the New York & Atlantic (lessor of the LIRR freight service) and by the Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey trains when the "Greatest Show on Earth" plays the Nassau Coliseum.  The right of way from Eisenhower Park eastward to the LIRR Main Line in the vicinity of Bethpage State Parkway is readily seen from the air or from any north-south street crossing it; it runs almost arrow-straight along the line between Salisbury Park Drive/Meridian Street on the north side and Old Farm Road/Hickory Lane/Mallard Road on the south.  It abuts the right of way of the old Long Island Motor Parkway (see map, below) along most of this stretch, where it runs immediately south of the Parkway and is often mistaken for that old road.  The crossing of the Central and the LIRR, halfway between Bethpage State Parkway and Merrit's Road and Central Avenue and Hempstead Turnpike ( NYS Route 24) is still the junction of the LIRR Main Line from Hicksville to Montauk and the Central Branch to the Montauk Divison at Babylon.

Other Central RR remnants are an old brick arch bridge located in the woods on the immediate west side of the Bethpage State Parkway directly under the LIPA high tension lines in Bethpage.  That bridge once carried the tracks over Massatayun Creek, long since filled in at that location.  Much of the bridge is still intact but it is mostly filled in and hidden in some dense brush in which your author became so entangled (see below) he never found the bridge (the south arch can be seen under dense pricker bushes but the north side has collapsed - I'll have to go back).  The bridge's location is very close to B Tower (Bethpage Junction) which is just east of the BSP.  This was the junction created when the remains of the Central RR were connected to the LIRR main line there.  There is also an old brick turntable pit just off Round Swamp Road.  That 1873 brick works line had an enginehouse with a turntable and, largely thanks to LIRR historian Dave Morrison, the original brick-walled pit was cleaned out by a group of us from the Steam Locomotive #35 Restoration Committee on 08 Mar 2002; pictures are on the CRR continuation page 1 under the Bethpage Branch.

For an even-far-more detailed history of the Central RR of Long Island, refer to Vincent F. Seyfried's definitive 7-volume history of the LIRR which is mostly out of print and hard to find; see my LIRR BIBLIOGRAPHY.

Here, from my Long Island Motor Parkway (LIMP) History Page 3, are two U. S. Army Air Corps aerial photographs of Mitchel Field, dated 8-10-24 (left), looking east, and 5-5-31 (right), looking north-west across the Field to Roosevelt Field:

xxx xxx 8-10-24 Mitchel Field aerial 5-5-31 Mitchel Field aerial
[1924 (L) and 1931 (R) U. S. Army Air Corps photos]

Examining each carefully revealed the following:

5-5-31 Mitchel Field aerial [1931 U. S. Army Air Corps photo]

The 1931 picture, looking north-west across the Field to Roosevelt Field, is even easier to interpret (at the left (west) end.  I well remember the gas holder at the LILCO plant on Stewart just east of Clinton.  Directly above the gas holder is the curved white line of the LIMP coming across from Clinton, which goes off diagonally to the upper right; I would guess that the straight road coming in to it's left (west) was a continuation today's 11th Street.  You can easily follow the RoW above the long, narrow dark triangle along the north side of Stewart and over the bridge (Avenue C or Whaleneck?) above the small very dark triangle.  Post-cum-Whaleneck-cum-Merrick Avenue seems to zizag through the canted fields beyond the canted hangar, with two pair of reviewing stands on the west and east sides of the nearer (east) field.  Directly below the holder is the LIRR Central Branch, and, if you go north "through" the canted hangar and to the north end of the fields, you come to the CRR bridge (over Avenue C or Whaleneck?) which is still there opposite 1-800-Flowers at 1600 Stewart in the loop of the Meadowbrook Parkway/Stewart Avenue cloverleaf.  Old Country Road is quite clear north of Roosevelt Field and I would guess that weird bridge jumping up across the northeast corner, but with a solid pier dead center, is something temporary to do with an auto race course or some such.

I solicit (and welcome) knowledgeable comments on these two interpretations.

16 Apr 99 - An employee of LIPA (the Long Island Power Authority - the local power utility, successor to LILCO - the Long Ilsand Lighting Company), based out of Hicksville, wrote that he knows "of an area that may be related to the" Central Railroad of Long Island.  "On the LIPA RoW east of Jerusalem Avenue in Levittown, there is an area of concrete that looks out of place".  "It's about 50 yds. into the RoW, on the south side".  "Visibly, it's about 20 ft. long x 8 ft. wide; it may be larger than that."  I responded that I haven't looked into it but it sure sounds like it's the site of a Long Island Motor Parkway facility, possibly (maybe probably) the Bethpage toll lodge.  Well, I was dead wrong; it IS the Central RoW.

Further correspondence located the "pad" in question between
Meridian Road and Mallard Road, which my trusty Hagstrom's
places about a third of a mile north of Hempstead Turnpike (not that
any real LIRR fan could miss it - those two roads flank the Central RoW).

O.K., I was there 18 Apr 99 (with only a film camera) and was convinced that it is the location of the Bethpage toll lodge, but Vince Fitzgerald, my trusty LI Motor Parkway friend, tells me it is definitely the Central RoW; "the LIMP in this general area was 1/8 mile north.  The streets forming the southern boundary of the LIMP are Orchid and Polaris."

Hey, you win some and you lose some!  Here's a map of the area courtesy of Vince Fitzgerald (altered slightly by SBIII), showing the two RoWs (RsoW):   rev (17 Mar 2015)

Central RR vs. LIMP RoW
(Click on the thumbnail for a larger image)

One A. Montiglioni (thanks) sent me information (edited slightly) 25 Jan 00 about a remanent brick arch bridge of the old Central RR; it is located in the woods on the westerly side of the Bethpage State Parkway directly under the LIPA high tension lines north of Hempstead Turnpike and south of Central Avenue in Bethpage.  The bridge once carried the tracks of the Central RR of LI, later part of Poppenhousen's Flushing and Northside RR, over Massatayun Creek, long since filled in at that location.  Much of the bridge is still intact but it is mostly filled in and hidden in some dense brush.  The bridge can be reached from the rear of the warehouses along the east side of the Seaford Oyster Bay Expressway, south of Central Avenue or by following the LIPA ROW east from the SOB Expressway.  The bridge's location is very close to B Tower (Bethpage Junction) which is just east of the BSP.  This was the junction created when the remains of the Central RR were connected to the LIRR main line at that location.  The bricks for the bridge undoubtedly came from A.T. Stewart's brickyard in what is now Old Bethpage; a spur of the Central RR once ran to the brickyard, leaving the Central near Merrit Road in Farmingdale.  The spur ran for some distance along the easterly side of Round Swamp Road.  The abandoned ROW became the Bethpage Park bridle path.  The brickyard is now the site of the Fireman's Training Center and Seville Concrete.

I got in there with my digital camera; while in the area on 25 Mar 00, tracking down remanent Long Island Motor Parkway artifacts, I parked alongside the southbound Bethpage State Parkway just south of the power lines, found a path westward up a rise, followed it in, and found an embankment running due (LI) west through vicious brambles, prickers, thorns, briars, and what-have-you!  Unable to force my way along the embankment, I dropped down to grade and followed the northern edge westward to new factory construction immediately east of the SOB, where there is a Cyclone fence barring the way.  I never did find any trace of a brick bridge but I did cross over the embankment and try to follow the south edge eastward back to the Parkway.  Bad mistake!  I lost sight of the power lines and ended up totally trapped in brambles and finally, in desperation, sat down under them to figure out how to extricate myself.  I had been using a forked branch to force the worst canes out of my way and it had snapped - worse, it started to RAIN!  There were houses to the immediate south but pride prevented my calling for help.  Eventually, I worked loose, badly scratched and punctured; here is some of what I found in my scalp when I got back to the car:

Thorn from CRR RoW

Now, the CRRofLI was foreclosed in 1879 and, as the Central Branch of the LIRR, shut down as a scheduled passenger line in 1879 (if it's in Seyfried, I can't find it) but we now know for sure that special passenger trains ran on it at least on Saturday, 30 Oct 1909; see the special timetable and map for the 1909 Vanderbilt Cup Race of that date on my Long Island Motor Parkway History page 3.

Central RR Bridge coverage has been moved from LIRR Cont. Page 4 to Central RR Bridge on CRRofLI Continuation Page 1.

CRR/Central Branch Meadowbrook/Salisbury Plains Station coverage has been moved to Meadowbrook/Salisbury Plains on CRRof LI Continuation Page 1.

The CRR/LIRR Bethpage Branch is also covered on CRRofLI Continuation Page 1.

[Continued on the Central RR of LI Continuation Page 1.]

[This page was separated out from my LONG ISLAND RAIL ROAD Cont. page 5 on 17 Feb 2002; you might wish to see that and the main LI Rail Road page, et seq., and the LI Railroads page, also.]

You may wish to visit the Railroad Continuation Page, et seq.

of this series of Railroad pages.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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of this series of LIRR pages.

To tour the Long Island railroads pages in sequence, the arrows take you from the previous page to the LIRR index, to the first LIRR page, and on to pages 2 and up, then to the other LI railroads page, and lastly to the LIRR Historical Society page.

© Copyright S. Berliner, III - 2000, 2001, 2002, 2012, 2015  - all rights reserved.

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