Oyster Bay, Mill Neck, and Syosset: The History of Long Island Rail Road Service to Northeastern Nassau County

 

Oyster Bay harbor at sunset (June 20, 2013)
Oyster Bay harbor at sunset (June 20, 2013)

In northern Nassau County, the communities Oyster Bay and Mill Neck geographically form the toe of a horseshoe.  The eastern heel is Cove Neck and the western heel is at Centre Island.  Situated in this figurative object are the neighboring locales of Oyster Bay Cove, Bayville, and to the south, Syosset.  Although the area was colonized in the seventeenth century, major development waited until the nineteenth century when the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) changed the agricultural landscape to residential and industrial.  The following is a history of both northeastern Nassau County and its rail service, with particular attention to the LIRR’s twentieth century improvements.[1]

Early History

It was the Dutch explorer Adrian Block who named Oyster Bay in 1615 for the abundance of shellfish.[2]  Block was the first European to discover that Long Island was indeed an island when in 1609 he sailed through the East River and up the New England coast to Cape Cod.  Local Indians called Long Island “Seawanhacky,” or land of the shells.  Sea shells were manufactured into wampum, or seawam as the Dutch called it.  The Indians referred to it as wampumpeague, or the white bead, which was made from the purple part of the Quahaug shell.  It was used for years as shell money in transactions with the native people.[3]  In 1693, Long Island was legally named “The Island of Nassau” in honor of William III, known as William of Orange.  The act was not repealed until 1828 when the State Legislature discarded all former colonial statutes.[4]

When the first Englishmen landed in 1640, Oyster Bay was inhabited by the Matinecock Indians.  Brothers Edward and Timothy Tomlins from Lynn, Massachusetts were among the first to arrive.  James Farrett, agent of the Earl of Stirling and the declared owner of Long Island, later granted two little necks of land on the east side of Oyster Bay harbor to Matthew Sinderland of Boston.  One of the necks became Sagamore Hill where President Theodore Roosevelt built his home.  However, the Dutch had jurisdiction over the area and kicked out the Tomlins’ group of settlers.  Oyster Bay was indeed the boundary between the Dutch and English colonists until the Dutch were driven out in 1664.[5]

Mill Pond, Oyster Bay (June 7, 2014)
Mill Pond, Oyster Bay (June 7, 2014)

One of the first Englishmen to settle in Oyster Bay was the soldier Captain John Underhill.  His remarkable career included service under both the Dutch and English governments.  When the Dutch were at odds with local Indians, they appealed to Underhill in view of his military reputation and fluency in Indian languages.  The battle for Fort Neck, current village of Oyster Bay, was fought between the Indians and Underhill in the summer of 1653.[6]  When peace was declared between England and Holland in 1654, Underhill removed to Southold which was colonized by the English.  A Quaker, he later returned to Oyster Bay sometime between 1661 and 1664.  In 1908, the Underhill Society of America erected a monument at his grave site in the village of Matinecock.  The monument is a tall shaft with bronze reliefs portraying his Indian conquests.[7]

The first official transfer of land at Oyster Bay was by an Indian deed of the Sagamore Assiapum (alias Mohannes) to Peter Wright, Samuel Mayo, and Reverend William Leverege in 1653.  Sagamore Hill was later named after this Indian chief.[8]  The purchase included the site of the present village.  Early settlers, mostly from Connecticut,[9] laid out a village and primitive roads.  The first town meeting was held in 1660.[10]  Centre Island, originally known as Hog Island, was purchased from the Indians by New York merchants and later added to the township of Oyster Bay.  It was originally a true island.[11]

Oyster Bay remained a close-knit isolated community for several generations.  One of the first prominent families was the Youngs.  Thomas Youngs arrived in Oyster Bay in 1654 and was the first of the family to settle in current Oyster Bay Cove.  He built his home at the junction of Cove Neck Road and Cove Road.  George Washington slept at the Underhill Homestead in 1790.  The home remained in the possession of the family for nine generations[12] and featured a cemetery, which has been a burial ground since the seventeen century.[13]

To the west, Mill Neck was sold by Mohenes to English settlers for an assortment of coats, utensils, and wampum.  It acquired its name from early settler Henry Townsend who constructed a mill in 1661.  He, and his brother Captain John, were signers of the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657, the nation’s first declaration of religious freedom.[14]

Lower Francis Pond, Mill Neck (June 7, 2014)
Lower Francis Pond, Mill Neck (June 7, 2014)

To the north, Daniel Whitehead of Oyster Bay purchased land in what is now Bayville from the Matinecock in 1658.  At the time the eastern portion of the peninsula was known as the Pines and the western was Oak Neck.  In 1674 the land was divided among twenty-three men who used it for pasture.  Development centered near the western end of the present-day village, which was known as Friendly Corner.[15]  It became Bayville in 1859.[16]

Lower Francis Pond, Mill Neck (June 7, 2014)
Lower Francis Pond, Mill Neck (June 7, 2014)

Nineteenth Century

The nineteenth century brought great changes to both the United States and Oyster Bay.  The latter emerged from semi-isolation and developed into a major Long Island port.  With the arrival of the LIRR, the community turned into a suburb to escape city life in New York.  The railroad also provided an alternate means to transport goods out of Oyster Bay.  For a time, the Oyster Bay Branch was used as a rail link between New York and New England.[17]

The growth of Oyster Bay in the nineteenth century convinced some residents that a name change was in order. In 1848, some inhabitants petitioned the Post Office to name the village Syosset because there was confusion and delay in mail delivery between Oyster Bay and South Oyster Bay, or modern-day Massapequa.  However, at a town meeting the majority of residents rejected the change.[18]

The name Syosset would be used for a neighboring area.  In 1648, a man named Robert Williams acquired land from the Matinecock leader Pugnipan. The purchase included modern-day Syosset, Jericho, and Woodbury.  Initially, the Syosset-Woodbury area was called Eastwoods but gradually the name Syosset took hold.  The name either originates from the Matinecock word “Suwasset,” meaning “place in the pines,” or the Dutch word for sheriff.  By 1824, a few businesses, including a small hotel, made up the community’s core.  The current village of Syosset primarily developed in the second half of the nineteenth century.  When LIRR service arrived, Syosset attracted farmers who could access New York City’s markets.  Hence, a commercial district formed around the train station and a post office was established in 1855.[19]

Some nineteenth century structures in Oyster Bay survive today.  The Bayles House located at 70 East Main Street on the corner of Pearl Street was the home of oysterman Charles Bayles and his family.  It was built circa 1870.  The family name was also given to nearby Bayles Hill.  Another nineteenth century building is the First Presbyterian Church.  Of Carpenter Gothic design, it was built high above Main Street in 1873.[20]  Lastly, the former railroad depots of Oyster Bay and Mill Neck are also historic structures.

The story of the iron horse in Oyster Bay begins with the LIRR’s Locust Valley Branch.  As completed between 1867 and 1869, the branch was ten and one-half miles long from Mineola, terminating at the present corner of Forest Avenue and Brick Hill Road.  By the early 1880s, there was pressure to expand rail service eastward.  At this time another railroad threatened to rival the LIRR’s monopoly.  Incorporated on March 23, 1881, the Northern Railroad of Long Island planned to build a road from Astoria to Northport via Flushing, Great Neck, Glen Cove, Oyster Bay and Huntington.  By June of that year, construction plans were authorized and in mid-July the building contract was signed, with work set to begin in August.[21]

However, before the Northern Railroad could sell stock and acquire a roadbed, under the leadership of Austin Corbin the LIRR attempted to undermine the project by linking its north side branches together as a continuous railroad to Northport.  Construction cost from Great Neck to Roslyn and from Locust Valley to Northport was approximately $400,000.  In February of 1883, Corbin offered to supply iron and rolling stock for the extension to Oyster Bay if local residents provided the right-of-way.  While citizens considered the offer, the Northern Railroad folded since not enough capital was raised.  With the threat eliminated, the extension of rail service to Oyster Bay was temporarily delayed.[22]

The project was revived in 1886 when some citizens offered to secure a right-of-way.  In June of that year, a public meeting was held and a committee of fifteen appointed to secure land.  Although officials were still contemplating a through line to Northport, the LIRR organized the Oyster Bay Extension Railroad on August 31, 1886 which authorized a five-mile road from Locust Valley to Oyster Bay.  Residents were divided.  While some favored the plan, the editors of the East Norwich Enterprise denounced the project.  Nevertheless, ground was broken on August 15, 1887.[23]

One phase of construction was the building of a bridge over what is now Tunnel Street in Locust Valley.  The masonry project began in mid-October of 1888 and the arch was finished on April 13, 1889.  The entire bridge was completed by September. Other bridges crossing over roads were constructed at Buckram Road/Oyster Bay Road, Frost Mill Road, and Shore Road. All were originally built by February 1889 and later rebuilt with steel girders.[24]

LIRR Tunnel Street Bridge, Locust Valley (June 7, 2014)
LIRR Tunnel Street Bridge, Locust Valley (June 7, 2014)

On June 24, 1889, the road opened with a a huge celebration in Oyster Bay.  A ceremonial train of ten cars left Long Island City about 9:30 a.m. and was met at Locust Valley by ten young ladies who decorated the locomotive with flags and wreaths.  Upon arrival at Oyster Bay, an organized procession commenced which was viewed by 5,000 residents and visitors.  On Tuesday June 25, the extension opened for regular service with eight round trips daily to and from Long Island City. Elevations on the road are among the steepest.  At Oyster Bay the road is at sea level and at Mill Neck it is sixty feet above.  However, it is 150 feet above at Locust Valley.[25]

Two stations opened along the new right-of-way as of June 25, 1889.  According Vincent F. Seyfried, Oyster Bay was merely a terminal stop until Charles Hallett completed a building in November of 1892.  However, David Morrison suggests that the building was completed in 1889.[26]  Either way, it was replaced by or rebuilt into a new, grander depot during the spring and early summer of 1902.  The thirty-two-by-sixty-eight foot building featured oyster shells in the exterior cement and a 400-foot weather shed supported by twenty pillars.   Opened in August of 1902, the colonial interior had a fireplace and tiled hearth.[27]

Oyster Bay Station
Historical Fact
Date
Station opened June 25, 1889
Depot building opened 1889 or November 1892
Depot building replaced August 1902
Station agency closed November 6, 1996 (author’s analysis)
High-level concrete platform and ramp construction began (with an extended mono-slope, cantilever platform canopy and large, shed-roofed passenger waiting area shelter and information center made of steel and enamel painted mint
and light beige)
December 1997 (author’s analysis)
Station closed September 14, 1998 (author’s analysis)
Station relocated and high-level concrete platform
and ramp opened
September 15, 1998 (author’s analysis)
Former LIRR Oyster Bay Station depot building, view northeast, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)
Former LIRR Oyster Bay Station depot building, view northeast, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)

The other new station was located at the Kaintuck Lane crossing.  Called Bayville Station, it first appeared on timetables effective October 1, 1889.  Services were provided in a railroad boxcar.  In November 1892 it was renamed Mill Neck Station and moved to the Mill Neck Road crossing and a depot building was built.  This building burned down on April 3, 1911.  A replacement was built in 1912 east of Mill Neck Road but also later burned down in 1918. Another replacement was constructed in 1919 a bit further east, north of the tracks.[28]  Funded by local residents, the two-story brick and stone structure was designed by Harrie Lindeberg at a cost of $26,950.  It was later given to the railroad.[29]

Mill Neck Station
Historical Fact
Date
Station and depot building opened as Bayville Station October 1, 1889
Relocated and renamed Mill Neck Station November 1892
Depot building destroyed by fire April 3, 1911
Depot building replaced 1912
Depot building destroyed by fire 1918
Depot building replaced 1919
Station agency closed February 28, 1958 (author’s analysis)
Last passenger service March 13, 1998
Station closed March 16, 1998
Former LIRR Mill Neck Station depot building, view east (June 7, 2014)
Former LIRR Mill Neck Station depot building, view east (June 7, 2014)

More than thirty years before the Oyster Bay extension opened, another LIRR branch serviced the area.  The Hicksville and Cold Spring Harbor railroad was built off the Main Line from Hicksville to Syosset in 1854.  It was later leased to the LIRR and sold to it in 1863.  Syosset Station was the first terminal of the branch and later a way station.  As the only area rail facility, Oyster Bay, Huntington, and Northport residents rode carriages to Syosset to travel by train to New York or Brooklyn.  The road would later extend to Port Jefferson.[30]

Syosset Station
Historical Fact
Date
Station opened 1854
Depot building opened (relocated from Lockwood’s Grove) September 1877
Depot building renovated 1944
Three-sided, saltbox-roofed wooden passenger shelter erected (on the eastbound platform) Fall 1910 (author’s analysis)
Depot building renovated 1948
Wooden passenger shelter razed Early 1969 (author’s analysis)
Twin high-level concrete platform constructed (with three flat-roofed, metal-framed Plexiglas passenger shelters on the westbound platform and two on the eastbound) November 1969 – Spring 1970 (author’s analysis)
Rail service electrified October 19, 1970
High-level concrete platforms renovated (with mono-slope, cantilever platform canopies and five spacious, shed-roofed platform waiting area shelters and information center replacements made of steel and enamel painted red-brick and light beige) By 2006 (author’s analysis)

Early service at Syosset Station was limited.  The summer timetable of 1856 provided daily travel to Brooklyn at 7:20 a.m. and 4:40 p.m.  For eastbound service, a train that left Brooklyn at 10:00 a.m. and 4:15 p.m.[31]  When the LIRR changed it passenger terminus to Queens, there were two round-trips to and from Syosset and Hunter’s Point daily, except Sundays.[32]

Initially, the station had no depot building.  In January of 1873, LIRR President Oliver Charlick offered $550 towards a building if residents would raise the remainder.  The effort failed.[33]  However, in September of 1877, the depot at Lockwood’s Grove in Far Rockaway was moved to Syosset and re-erected on the east side of Jackson Avenue north of the tracks.[34]  A 1944 depot refurbishment included a new cement floor, gray walls, and an asbestos roof.  Additionally, the colonial trim of overhanging eaves, similar to Oyster Bay depot, was removed and the building transformed into a modern structure.[35]  It was rebuilt to its current dimensions at a cost of $33,800 and completed over the summer of 1948.[36] A second track was laid to Syosset from Hicksville south of the main track in the fall of 1910 and a three-sided, saltbox-roofed wooden passenger shelter was erected just east of the Jackson Avenue crossing on what became the new, eastbound platform.[37]

LIRR Syosset Station depot building, view east (June 7, 2014)
LIRR Syosset Station depot building, view east (June 7, 2014)
LIRR Syosset Station waiting room (September 1, 2014)
LIRR Syosset Station waiting room (September 1, 2014)

Service to New England

In the early 1890s, the Oyster Bay Branch was utilized as a means to connect Long Island and New England.  The story begins on July 9, 1891 when a Brooklyn State Supreme Court judge appointed two commissioners to appraise and condemn property adjacent to Oyster Bay Station.  The area was to be used as a large freight and passenger terminal where ferry-cars to Wilson’s Point, Connecticut would connect with the Housatonic Railroad system bound for Boston.  Additionally, it was rumored that LIRR President Corbin wished to construct a tunnel between Brooklyn and Staten Island to enable passengers and freight to travel uninterruptedly from the South and West to New England via Brooklyn and Oyster Bay.[38]  In September the new route idea was officially named the Long Island and Eastern States Line,[39] with operation to begin on the fifteenth.  Under the plan, LIRR freight operations would move its headquarters in Long Island City to Bay Ridge.[40]

The cross-Sound service operated for a short period.  Officials reported that it was not economically feasible, losing the railroad as much as $400 a day and falling far short of expectations.  As of February 1, 1892, Corbin ordered all freight and passenger trains between Brooklyn and Boston via Oyster Bay be discontinued.[41]  However, the mandate was recalled.  It was hoped that a double-track between Hawleyville and Hartford, Connecticut would save the road.[42]  Another idea was for a double-track rail line to connect Oyster Bay and Syosset, with an additional track from Hicksville to Syosset in order to handle both freight and passenger service.[43]  Regardless, the final blow to the ferry project was in July 1892.  At this time the LIRR sued the New England railroad company for $250,000 in damages citing that on July 14 it refused to carry cars over the Sound.  The mishap occurred after the LIRR spent $50,000 furnishing Oyster Bay property for railroad purposes.[44]

After the rail link to Boston failed, the LIRR concentrated on local service.  Six years after the Oyster Bay extension opened, scheduled westbound service to Long Island City included ten daily trains, Monday through Saturday, with an additional late evening train on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  Eastbound service to Oyster Bay also included ten regular trains, with an additional midday on Saturdays and a late evening train on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  On Sundays, there were five westbound trains from Oyster Bay to Long Island City and four return trains from Long Island City to Oyster Bay.[45]  With the growth in Oyster Bay’s population, three years later service expanded.  Both westbound and eastbound service added two more trains daily, Monday through Saturday, on the summer 1898 timetable.  On Sundays, one additional train was added both eastbound and westbound.[46]

Mill Neck service was typically less than Oyster Bay.  In fact, beginning in November of 1891, it was only a signal stop.  However, both regular and flag stops were on timetables by 1895.[47]

By the turn of the twentieth century, the growth of Syosset into a small village also necessitated increased rail service.  On the Port Jefferson Branch in 1895, Syosset Station featured five westbound daily trains to Long Island City at 6:44 a.m., 8:08 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 2:40 p.m., and 4:32 p.m., Monday through Saturday.  Saturday included an additional train at 6:02 p.m.  Eastbound service from Long Island City arrived in Syosset at 9:57 a.m., 12:06 p.m., 5:33 p.m., 6:29 p.m., and 7:35 p.m., with an additional Saturday consist at 2:28 p.m.  On Sundays, there were three trains in both directions.[48]  However, ten years later, there were two additional station stops at Syosset in both directions daily.  Of the seven westbound trains, the 8:10 a.m. station stop featured a parlor car, the railroad’s premium service.  On Sundays, in addition to three regular trains in both directions, the LIRR added parlor car service eastbound at 9:58 a.m. and westbound at 7:13 p.m.[49]

LIRR Oyster Bay Branch Timetable Effective May 27, 1903
LIRR Oyster Bay Branch Timetable Effective May 27, 1903

Twentieth Century

After the railroad superseded navigation, Oyster Bay’s harbor became less important as freight now came by rail.  However, the automobile revived the importance of Oyster Bay’s deep water anchorage as oil tankers could easily enter the harbor.[50]  By the 1920s, the summer population of Oyster Bay was about 8,000 with a loss of 1,500 in winter.  A total of 5,000 bushels of oyster shells were purchased from Oyster Bay annually.  Lumber and coal yards also did a large business and there was a seasonal ferry between Bayville and Greenwich, Connecticut.  Roosevelt Memorial Park was constructed during this time at an estimated $1-million.[51]  One building from this time period that has survived is Oyster Bay High School.  The $650,000 brick building has elements of Art Deco architecture, famous for the period.  It first opened in February of 1929.[52]

Oyster Bay harbor, Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park (June 7, 2014)
Oyster Bay harbor, Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park (June 7, 2014)
Oyster Bay High School (June 7, 2014)
Oyster Bay High School (June 7, 2014)

For a time in the early part of the twentieth century, people of wealth came out from the city to enjoy Oyster Bay’s amenities.  In fact, the North Shore of Long Island was at one time nicknamed the Gold Coast because of the many new-comers who bought up the old farms in northern Nassau County.  Few estates remain, however, some were divided into smaller lots and a handful donated as park land.  One of these was the former estate of William Robertson Coe who purchased the property in 1913.  He later deeded it to the State of New York in 1949.  Under the name Planting Fields, it is maintained as a park.  The 409 acres also features a seventy-five-room mansion.  Although they did not habitat the area for lack of water supply, the local Indians named it Planting Fields because they planted corn on the higher ground.[53]

To the west of Oyster Bay, the Vanderbilts, Whitneys, Rockefellers and Levitts all called Mill Neck home.[54]  Bird watching has traditionally been one the many leisure activities at the North Shore Bird and Game Sanctuary, formerly the Mill Neck Sanctuary.[55]   Another observation point is along Shu Swamp Road and the creek of the same name.[56]

Wildlife, Lower Francis Pond, Mill Neck (June 7, 2014)
Wildlife, Lower Francis Pond, Mill Neck (June 7, 2014)

Another community of wealth is Cove Neck.  Here is where former President Theodore Roosevelt built Sagamore Hill in 1885.  As the City Police Commissioner from 1895 to 1897, he commuted to New York by LIRR.[57]  He and his wife purchased plots at Youngs Memorial Cemetery.  He was buried there on January 8, 1919 on top of a hill.  The grave is reached by twenty-six steps, signifying that he was the twenty-sixth President.[58]  Cove Neck later became an incorporated village.

Roosevelt Grave Site, Youngs Family Cemetery, Cove Neck (June 17, 2014)
Roosevelt Grave Site, Youngs Family Cemetery, Cove Neck (June 17, 2014)

Another village is Oyster Bay Cove.  Tucked in between Oyster Bay and the Cove Neck peninsula, Oyster Bay Cove was originally called “the Cove,” and was discovered by wealthy New Yorkers in the late 1800s seeking country homes.  First settled by English farmers in the early 1600s, it had a population of 2,270 by 1998.  Like other villages, the building boom of the 1920s threatened the serene landscape. Residents pushed for incorporation in 1931 to insure two-acre zoning.[59]

To the north, Bayville also developed as a summer haven with small cottages and several estates.  Additionally, an entertainment complex was built in 1913 called Bayville Casino.  In 1919, Bayville also became an incorporated village.  Access to the community was improved with bridge construction across Mill Neck Creek in 1898.  It was rebuilt in 1938.  A large area of the business district and many homes may have disappeared if master-builder Robert Moses’ 1965 proposal to build a bridge across Long Island Sound to Rye came to fruition.  However, in the early 1970s Bayville’s wetlands were donated to the federal government, killing the plan.[60]  Over time Bayville developed into a community of year-round residence with a population of 3,000.  By 1970 the figure doubled.[61]

To the south, all farming ceased in Syosset after World War II and land was sold to developers.  Estate owners in Syosset also sold off their land as well.  From the mid-1950s through the 1960s, “development houses” were built and Syosset grew into a modern Nassau County suburb.[62]

Cold Spring Road Park, Syosset (September 1, 2014)
Cold Spring Road Park, Syosset (September 1, 2014)
Christiano's Italian Restaurant, Syosset (September 1, 2014)
Christiano’s Italian Restaurant, Syosset (September 1, 2014)

The Railroad in the Postwar Years

The rapid twentieth century growth of Oyster Bay and Syosset, as well as other areas of Long Island, necessitated a better railroad infrastructure. During World War II, J.G. White Engineering Corporation conducted a year-long study of the LIRR to recommend post-war improvements.  It reported that in the long-term, electrification should be completed to Oyster Bay and Huntington between 1945 and 1950.  The plan was for first-class rail transportation to accompany the high-class residential development on Long Island.[63]  While system-wide electrification did not happen, portions of the Port Jefferson Branch were later electrified providing better service to Syosset.   For the Oyster Bay Branch, diesel replaced steam locomotion.

Up to the 1950s, the LIRR primarily utilized steam locomotion on the non-electrified lines of Oyster Bay and Port Jefferson.  Railroads switched to diesel for a variety of reasons.  Progress, fuel and maintenance costs, coal shortages, and government smoke abatement statutes all played a factor in the LIRR’s decision dieselize.  In fact, the LIRR was the first to test diesel locomotion when Ingersoll-Rand demonstrated one of their locomotives in February of 1925.  Impressed with the results, the railroad purchased a 100-ton, 600-horsepower switcher, which was jointly built by the General Electric Company (GE) and American Locomotive Company (ALCO) for $100,000.  LIRR road number 401 was completed in November of 1925 and sent to Long Island as the railroad’s first diesel locomotive.  The second purchase (number 402) was an eighty-ton locomotive built by J.G. Brill Company.  In light of exhaust system problems, it spent approximately two weeks in service.  The next two locomotives were purchased from Baldwin-Westinghouse in September of 1927, followed by another Ingersoll-Rand locomotive (the second number 402) in 1928.[64]

However, the LIRR didn’t purchase another diesel until September of 1945.  In the post-war period, a Baldwin VO-660 was the first to arrive, followed by five Alco-G.E. locomotives.  One reason for the acquisition was smoke abatement.  At the time, New York City strictly enforced pollution statutes, particularly on freight trains.  The LIRR smoke abatement project was headed by LIRR chief smoke inspector A.B. Boland.  In recognition, the station at Morris Park’s diesel repair shop was named Boland’s Landing in his honor.[65]

Another reason for the switch to diesel in the mid-to-late-1940s was a nationwide coal shortage.  Forced to comply with mandated steam reductions, sixteen trains were cancelled on the Oyster Bay Branch and twelve on the Port Jefferson in November of 1946.[66]  These trains would later be reinstated as new diesel engines arrived.  However, further cuts to reduce steam by twenty-five percent were ordered by the Office of Defense Transportation in 1948. In total, eight weekday and six weekend Oyster Bay trains were cancelled as well as six weekday and seven weekend on the Port Jefferson Branch.[67]  As coal supplies became adequate, service was again reinstated.  However, according to public opinion it was not fast enough.  In May of 1950, the state Public Service Commission ordered the LIRR to restore train number 574 on the Oyster Bay Branch.[68]  The railroad was also given an August 7 deadline to restore the last other suspended trains on the Oyster Bay Branch.[69]

Alco FA locomotive cab interior, 1964 New York World’s Fair Display Cab, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)
Alco FA locomotive cab interior, 1964 New York World’s Fair Display Cab, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)

Smoke abatement, coal shortages, and progress signaled the end of steam.  However, the rise of the automobile and two LIRR disasters resulted in declining ridership.[70]  On February 2, 1949, its owner, the Pennsylvania Railroad, declared the LIRR bankrupt.  If the railroad required funding, it needed to petition in court.  In need of new motive power, it asked for and received new diesels in April of 1950, including the RS-1 numbers 466 through 469.  Eight 2000-horsepower Fairbanks-Morse passenger locomotives were also acquired.  Later in 1950, twelve more Fairbanks-Morse diesels arrived, financed by the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and the sale of electrical equipment and scrap.[71]

Alco FA locomotive control stand, 1964 New York World’s Fair Display Cab, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)
Alco FA locomotive control stand, 1964 New York World’s Fair Display Cab, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)

Despite new equipment, there was a downturn in both train and depot service system-wide as the LIRR entered a period of uncertainty in the post-war era.  Prior to the Great Depression when ridership was at a peak, there was an average of nineteen weekday trains to and from Oyster Bay, seven of which were during the morning and afternoon rush-hour.  However, by 1951, there were only sixteen weekday trains in both directions.  Weekend averages also declined with about a dozen in 1928 compared with ten or less by 1951.  Additionally, there was no longer a one-seat ride to Pennsylvania Station.  In 1928, a pair of Oyster Bay Branch consists was transported into and out of the East River tunnels by DD1 electrics after a locomotive switch at Jamaica.  By 1951 as the DD1 was being phased out, steam or diesel Oyster Bay Branch trains either terminated or originated at Jamaica or Long Island City.  Passengers were required to change trains in order to reach Pennsylvania Station.  Freight service was also downsized, as less-than-carload of freight was discontinued at Oyster Bay Station in early 1960. Carload freight continued until all operations on the Oyster Bay Branch ceased in mid-1982.[72]

Service to Mill Neck in 1951 was comparable to Oyster Bay but almost half the scheduled required a flag to stop.  In order to save $587 a year, on January 16, 1951, the LIRR asked the Public Service Commission for permission to end public freight operations at Mill Neck citing that adequate facilities were available at Oyster Bay and Locust Valley.[73] Seven years later on February 28, 1958, the LIRR closed the Mill Neck ticket office claiming that it no longer warranted an agent.  The building, which contained a waiting room, baggage room, post office, and mailroom, was rehabilitated by private contributions through the Mill Neck Residents Association.  Renovations included a larger mail room, a meeting room for village officials, and a police headquarters. Total cost was estimated at $25,000.[74]

Former LIRR Mill Neck Station platform, view east (June 7, 2014)
Former LIRR Mill Neck Station platform, view east (June 7, 2014)
Incorporated Village of Mill Neck (June 7, 2014)
Incorporated Village of Mill Neck (June 7, 2014)

Over in Syosset, service reduction was less apparent.  Between 1928 and 1951 service was relatively the same with only a few less in the later year.  However, in 1928 there were a total of four rush-hour trains that were hauled by DD1 electrics.  In 1951, there were none as Port Jefferson Branch customers were required to switch to an electric multi-unit consist to get to Manhattan.[75]  The cessation of through service led to an investigation by the Public Service Commission.[76]

Despite service cutbacks, a new station was added.  Midway between Hicksville and Syosset on the Port Jefferson Branch, Landia Station was setup at the Robbins Lane grade crossing to serve employees of both Fairchild’s Space Defense Systems Division, otherwise known as the Fairchild Camera Company which moved there in 1951, and Cerro Wire & Cable Co.[77]  The station opened December 15, 1952 with two low-level platforms at grade, one eastbound and one westbound.[78]  Primarily serving reverse-commuters from the west, morning weekday service was provided by a Port Jefferson-bound train at 8:18 a.m.  For the afternoon, a train originating out of Huntington made a station stop at 5:31 p.m.  On Saturdays, there was an eastbound stop at 8:27 a.m. and westbound at 5:29 p.m.[79]  By the fall of 1961, another morning and afternoon train was added to the Landia schedule.[80]

Landia Station
Historical Fact
Date
Station opened December 15, 1952
Last passenger service June 25, 1972 (author’s analysis)
Station closed October 3, 1973
LIRR Landia Station depot and MU double-decker car, Robbins Lane crossing, view east (Circa 1971: Photographer unknown, Dave Keller Archive)
LIRR Landia Station and MU double-decker car, Robbins Lane crossing, view east (Circa 1971: Photographer unknown, Dave Keller Archive)
LIRR Timetable Effective September 11, 1961: Eastbound morning service to Landia Station
LIRR Timetable Effective September 11, 1961: Eastbound morning service to Landia Station

Following five years of bankruptcy, the LIRR underwent an extensive $60-million comprehensive plan to purchase equipment and eliminate steam locomotion.  Former Pennsylvania Railroad official Thomas M. Goodfellow took over the project as general manager and vice president on August 12, 1954.  He later replaced Walter S. Franklin as LIRR president on January 1, 1956.  Under Goodfellow’s plan, ten RS-3 diesels were ordered in early 1955 (road numbers 1551 through 1560) to replace the last steam locomotives.[81]  Beginning in late 1963, the Fairbanks-Morse diesels were replaced as well when the LIRR leased twenty-two Alco Century-420 (C-420) units.[82]

State Ownership and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Although the railroad showed some improvement by the mid-1960s, its status as a redevelopment corporation ended and the state took action.  First, Governor Rockefeller appointed a panel of five men to study operations and recommend a new strategic plan.[83]  Second, the state-operated Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority took over the LIRR from the Pennsylvania Railroad in exchange for $65 million and relief from unpaid taxes.[84]  While LIRR management remained, a five member state-selected board of directors oversaw operations.  The agency was reorganized as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in 1967.  One of the first acquisitions under the state-run operations was the purchase of eight C-420 units (numbers 222 through 229).  Initially acquired to haul sand from Bridgehampton, they were later used for commuter service as well.[85]

Although now under state control, traditional services such as the parlor car remained.  On the Oyster Bay Branch, the premium service was available early in the line’s history.  The summer 1898 timetable featured a daily westbound train from Oyster Bay at 8:10 a.m. with a parlor car, including Saturdays.  The return from Long Island City at 4:32 p.m. also featured a the parlor car.  It should be noted that these consists ran relatively express to and from Oyster Bay and Long Island City, with stops at Jamaica, Sea Cliff, Glen Cove, and Locust Valley.[86]  In succeeding years, an additional parlor car train to and from Jamaica was added both eastbound and westbound.[87]  Sunday parlor service on the Oyster Bay Branch was limited.  A 1908 timetable indicates an eastbound morning train and westbound late day train carried a parlor car.[88]  By 1965, the weekday Oyster Bay-bound train out of Long Island City at 4:58 p.m. featured a bar car.  Additionally, the 7:36 a.m. consist to Long Island City included a breakfast car that served orange juice, doughnuts, coffee, and water.[89]

More importantly, a state-controlled LIRR spurred electrification of diesel territory.  On June 13, 1967, the LIRR received a $22,697,500 grant to reduce the running time between Huntington and New York from fifty-six to thirty-one minutes.  Funds came from the Urban Transportation Administration of Housing and Urban Development as part of a $45-million program to extend electrification and increase third-rail power.  Under the new plan, Syosset passengers could utilize electric trains to reach Pennsylvania Station.  The program included new cars and accommodating high-level station platforms to increase boarding time speed.[90]  The new electric cars were the Metropolitans (M-1), which were followed by the M-3 units in the 1970s and early 1980s.

LIRR Metropolitan (M-1) Car number 9548, Railroad Museum of Long Island, Riverhead, NY (August 24, 2014)
LIRR Metropolitan (M-1) Car number 9548, Railroad Museum of Long Island, Riverhead, NY (August 24, 2014)

The introduction of the new fleet of electric cars was first delayed due to a late delivery from the Budd Company.  Upon arrival in late 1968 and early 1969, they were plagued by mechanical problems.  In response, the MTA adopted procedures for testing the new cars.[91]  In the meantime, rail electrification continued.  Track improvements included some realignment and straightening west of Syosset Station near Jericho Turnpike along Railroad Avenue.  In fact, three eastbound and three westbound trains were cancelled between Huntington and Syosset to facilitate work from June 23-27 in 1968.[92]

LIRR Metropolitan (M-1) Car, aisle and lavatory view, Railroad Museum of Long Island, Riverhead, NY (August 24, 2014)
LIRR Metropolitan (M-1) Car, aisle and lavatory view, Railroad Museum of Long Island, Riverhead, NY (August 24, 2014)

The sharp curvature of the tracks near Syosset Station held up some engineering work.  However, by the middle of July in 1968, most of the realignment was completed.  Since they were to be located east of the low-level platforms and depot along a curve in the tracks, the high-level platforms created some engineering problems as well.  State officials commented that when a high-level platform is built on a curve it creates a gap between the cars and platform since the train cars are straight.[93]  Nevertheless, two curved platforms with several flat-roofed, metal-framed Plexiglas passenger shelters were planned and construction began the first week of November in 1969.  A year behind schedule, the eastbound platform, extending 500 feet west from the east end of the low-level platform, was the first of the two to be built.  During construction, customers used the remaining west portion of the existing low-level platform. Currently, the platforms have a twelve-car capacity.[94]

LIRR Syosset Station, westbound high-level platform, view west (November 18, 2006)
LIRR Syosset Station, westbound high-level platform, view west (November 18, 2006)

Finally, mechanical bugs were worked out and the new cars were deemed ready for service.  A new timetable was put in place on October 19, 1970 for the inauguration of electric service to and from Huntington.  It enabled passengers on the Port Jefferson Branch to travel to either Pennsylvania Station or Hunterspoint Avenue without a change.  Initially, six electric trains ran into New York City during the morning rush-hour and five returned during the afternoon and evening.[95]  In the railroad’s first electrification since 1925, Syosset customers now had a one seat ride.[96]  Reaction was split.  Some commuters claimed the electrified line added leisure time to their weekday evenings while others reverted to the diesel consists for better scheduling.[97]

LIRR Metropolitan (M-1) Car, aisle and vestibule view, Railroad Museum of Long Island, Riverhead, NY (August 24, 2014)
LIRR Metropolitan (M-1) Car, aisle and vestibule view, Railroad Museum of Long Island, Riverhead, NY (August 24, 2014)

Despite service improvements, the railroad entered another dismal period.  Ridership plummeted from 73,700,000 in 1968 to 70,700,000 in 1970. Freight also fell from 98,975 carloads to 89,107 in the same period.  A survey also reported that the LIRR ran into serious financial troubles when it estimated revenues and costs.  With a fare increase in February of 1970, the railroad estimated revenues of $8,400,000.  However, with ridership in decline revenue was only $6,200,000.  While the new M-1’s had their share of issues, problems were more serious on the diesel fleet.  On one day in 1971, forty-six of the 354 cars were out of service for inspection or repair.[98]

In light of a ridership decline, Landia was discontinued.  By 1969, there were two daily eastbound trains at 8:15 a.m. and 9:01 a.m., and two westbound at 5:10 p.m. and 5:31 p.m.  Weekend service included one eastbound morning stop at 8:04 a.m. and an afternoon westbound at 5:01 p.m.[99]  One reason for halting service was that the new M-1 cars did not have stairs to grade-level so high-level platforms were needed.  However, ridership revenue did not warrant platform construction.  A railroad spokesman said that the station served an average of two commuters daily in 1970, compared with 102 in 1960.  The station was first slated to close on March 29, 1971.[100]  However, service continued since the entire fleet of M-1 cars was not in operation.  Nonetheless, service was permanently suspended on June 26, 1972 as all new cars were ready for operation.  The station permanently closed on October 3, 1973.[101]

With all 770 Metropolitan cars ready for service, new railroad timetables were implemented on Tuesday, June 20, 1972.  Rush-hour service was provided exclusively by the new cars.  President Walter L. Schlager stated that there would be more trains with better run times and consistent non-rush-hour service.[102]  For example, prior to electrification the diesel-hauled westbound rush-hour train number 617 made a Syosset stop at 7:48 a.m. and terminated at Jamaica at 8:21 a.m. where passengers would change to an electric car and arrive in New York at 8:43 a.m.  Now, train number 1621 departed Syosset at 7:48 a.m. and proceeded non-stop to Manhattan, arriving at 8:32 a.m.  Likewise the former eastbound diesel train (number 644) departed Jamaica at 4:00 p.m., with a 3:41 p.m. New York connection, and arrived in Syosset at 4:35 p.m.  The new electric train (number 1664) left Pennsylvania Station at 4:00 p.m. and arrived in Syosset at 4:51 p.m.[103]

New Diesel Purchases and “Push-Pull”

With the electric fleet now in place, the LIRR focused on diesel operations.  In a move to save time and revenue, the railroad began to standardize equipment.  One means was the push-pull technique whereby engineers could operate a train from either end as a power cab was placed on one end and a diesel locomotive on the other.  The design saved time lost forcing trains to turn around at certain locations.[104]  All power cabs were former Alco FA locomotives and arrived one by one from General Electric until June of 1974.  The first power cab (number 601) arrived on May 6, 1971 and was put in service on May 25.  The last (number 618) was acquired June 17, 1974.  Until July of 1972 the cabs were on the east end of consists.  To allow for better fueling of the “pusher” engines and maneuverability in Long Island City, it was changed to the west.  With the new push-pull concept, steam generators and steam-heated equipment were slowly fazed out.  All 2900 series P72 coaches were now equipped with electric heaters to run off their diesel generators.  On March 8, 1978 the LIRR ran the last steam-heated coach.[105]

LIRR Alco-GE FA-2m number 607, Syosset Station, view east: Class PC-7, built January 1951, former Western Maryland 303, acquired May 2, 1972, sled rebuilt December 1983 (Circa March 1996)
LIRR Alco-GE FA-2m number 607, Syosset Station, view east: Class PC-7, built January 1951, former Western Maryland 303, acquired May 2, 1972, sled rebuilt December 1983 (Circa March 1996)
LIRR Alco-GE FA-1m number 615, Syosset Station, view east: Class PC-7, built February 1949, former Burlington Northern 4116, acquired April 18, 1973, sled rebuilt March 1983 (Circa Spring 1997)
LIRR Alco-GE FA-1m number 615, Syosset Station, view east: Class PC-7, built February 1949, former Burlington Northern 4116, acquired April 18, 1973, sled rebuilt March 1983 (Circa Spring 1997)
LIRR P72 Coach number 2819, vestibule view (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR P72 Coach number 2819, vestibule view (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR P72 Coach number 2837, aisle view (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR P72 Coach number 2837, aisle view (Circa Winter 1998)

To highlight the improved service, a new color-coded timetable system was instituted in 1974.  The Port Jefferson Branch was dark blue and the Oyster Bay Branch was light green.  By this time, Oyster Bay had hourly service during the weekday non-rush-hour and every two hours on weekends.  Rush-hour service was approximately half-dozen trains both ways.  At Mill Neck, service was considerably reduced as of September 1973.[106]  Prior to the cutback, all Oyster Bay Branch trains made regular stops at Mill Neck weekdays and weekends.[107]  However, new timetables only featured weekday morning rush-hour service at 7:14 a.m., 7:43 a.m., and 8:13 a.m., and an afternoon reverse commuter train at 4:09 p.m.  Eastbound rush-hour service was at 5:29 p.m., 6:09 p.m., and 6:47 p.m.[108]  Two years later trains were limited to rush-hour as the 4:09 p.m. westbound station stop was discontinued.[109]

LIRR Oyster Bay Branch Timetable Effective May 23, 1977: New color-coded branch timetable
LIRR Oyster Bay Branch Timetable Effective May 23, 1977: New color-coded branch timetable

Despite push-pull and a new timetable presentation, customers were not pleased with on-time performance.  In 1974, a train was considered on-time if it arrived within seven minutes of the scheduled time.  The definition was changed in 1975 to within five minutes, resulting in a big drop-off in on-time performance starting in November of 1975.  To add to customer angst, fares increased twenty-three percent in early 1976.[110]

To quell frustration, electrification was proposed in the mid-1970s, in particular the eastern Port Jefferson Branch and the Main Line east of Hicksville.  However, the state’s inability to sell bonds delayed progress.[111] For the Oyster Bay Branch, a program was introduced in 1976 to eliminate the need for Oyster Bay customers to change trains for New York.  In what the MTA called “the world’s first gas-turbine/electric-rail commuter car,” the LIRR tested eight gas-turbine cars capable of operating on electric and non-electric rails.  One four-car train was built by General Motors and another by the Garrett Corporation of California.  The demonstration cars cost $14.8 million, with two-thirds of the money coming from the Federal Department of Transportation.  They were tested for durability during non-rush-hours.  Similar in design to the Metropolitans, they were each eighty-five feet long with turbines housed within each car.  MTA assistant director of transportation research Dr. Donald Baskin suggested that the cars were ideal for the Oyster Bay Branch because “the cost of rail electrification [was] more than $1 million per mile” and only beneficial in areas of “good population density.”  While Oyster Bay and Mill Neck grew substantially by the 1970s, the LIRR did not believe the rail line merited a case for electrification.[112]  Although the gas-turbine/electric-rail was successfully tested, the project proved too costly and was discontinued later in the decade.[113]

In 1976, funds were available to permit some track and signal modifications, and locomotive acquisitions.  New engines were necessary since the railroad was not planning to renew leases on the C-420’s that arrived between 1963 and 1964.[114]  All new engines were procured from the Electro-Motive Division (EMD) of General Motors.  The first was model GP38-2 (class E-20mc).  Road numbers 250 through 271 were built between January and February of 1976 and shipped to the LIRR within the first quarter of the year.  Numbers 272 through 277 (also model GP38-2) arrived the following year.  They replaced the last of the C-420’s, except numbers 222 through 229.  Also acquired in 1977 were eight model SW-1001 units (numbers 100 through 107) and twenty-three model MP15AC, class E-15mc (numbers 150 through 172).[115]  The latter was used for both passenger and freight service while the former was used primarily for yard work.  Two SW-1001 units were used for years as rescue trains in Long Island City, ready to tow a disabled train at a moment’s notice.  In a cost-cutting measure implemented in September of 2010, the LIRR eliminated the long-standing practice and thereafter the locomotives were retired to the yards.[116]

LIRR EMD GP38-2 number 268, Oyster Bay Station, view northwest: Class E-20mc, built January-February 1976 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD GP38-2 number 268, Oyster Bay Station, view northwest: Class E-20mc, built January-February 1976 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD GP38-2 number 268, Oyster Bay Station, view northeast: Class E-20mc, built January-February 1976 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD GP38-2 number 268, Oyster Bay Station, view northeast: Class E-20mc, built January-February 1976 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD MP15-AC number 170, Oyster Bay Station, view east: Class E-15mc, built March-April 1977, converted to power cab option January 1982 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD MP15-AC number 170, Oyster Bay Station platform, view east: Class E-15mc, built March-April 1977, converted to power cab option January 1982 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD MP15-AC number 170, Oyster Bay Station, view west: Class E-15mc, built March-April 1977, converted to power cab option January 1982 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD MP15-AC number 170, Oyster Bay Station platform, view west: Class E-15mc, built March-April 1977, converted to power cab option January 1982 (Circa Winter 1998)

When the MTA took control of the LIRR, new acquisitions featured a livery based on New York State colors blue and yellow.  This was changed to blue and white based on recommendations from former Milwaukee road employees who now worked for the LIRR.[117]  The MTA also adopted a Nordic blue stripe and lettering on its diesel-hauled coaches that were painted platinum mist (light gray) with a two-tone “M” logo for the MTA.[118]  For the Bicentennial of 1976, and through 1982, some locomotives were painted red, white, and blue.  Also, some cars and locomotives featured American flags, five stars, and the slogan “We Serve with Pride.”  The suggestion came from LIRR President Francis Gabreski, a former World War II fighter ace.[119]

LIRR EMD SW-1001 number 107, Long Island City Station, view east: Class E-10, built March 1977 (March 13, 1998)
LIRR EMD SW-1001 number 107, Long Island City Station, view east: Class E-10, built March 1977 (March 13, 1998)
EMD GP38-2 locomotive control stand, Railroad Museum of Long Island, Riverhead, NY (August 24, 2014)
EMD GP38-2 locomotive control stand, Railroad Museum of Long Island, Riverhead, NY (August 24, 2014)

By the late 1970s, most diesel train service changed to that of a shuttle.  With the exception of rush-hour consists that operated to and from Hunterspoint Avenue or Jamaica, a majority fed into electric cars at established points such as Babylon, Hicksville, and Huntington.  For example, the Babylon-Patchogue “scoot” diesel operated solely between Babylon and Patchogue.  To augment service, the LIRR needed more power cabs to complement its new diesel locomotives.  First, two former Milwaukee cab units from Precision National Corp. were acquired in March of 1978.  The first was an EMD F9Am (class PC-7) which was originally built in January of 1954.  It became LIRR number 619 in September of 1979, repowered with an HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) engine/generator set.  All subsequent purchases received the same HVAC design.  The second was an EMD F7Am (class PC-7) built in December of 1950.  It was out-shopped in September of 1980 as LIRR number 620.  The remaining three, numbers 621 through 623, were all F7Am’s acquired in October of 1980 from Morrison-Knudsen.  Numbers 621 and 622 were out-shopped in April and November of 1982, respectively.  Number 623 was never rebuilt.  Previously purchased numbers 601 through 618 also received an abbreviated HVAC treatment.  Additionally, twelve of the MP15AC’s were converted to a power cab option between February of 1982 and April of 1984, and renumbered with a “P” preceding or following the road number.  Lastly, all GP38-2’s underwent an eight-year heavy maintenance program beginning in 1984.[120]

LIRR EMD F9Am number 619, Oyster Bay Station, view east: Class PC-7, built January 1954, former Milwaukee Road 126A, out-shopped September 1979 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD F9Am number 619, Oyster Bay Station platform, view east: Class PC-7, built January 1954, former Milwaukee Road 126A, out-shopped September 1979 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD F9Am number 619, Oyster Bay Station, view west: Class PC-7, built January 1954, former Milwaukee Road 126A, out-shopped September 1979 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD F9Am number 619, Oyster Bay Station platform, view west: Class PC-7, built January 1954, former Milwaukee Road 126A, out-shopped September 1979 (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR EMD F7Am number 620, Syosset Station, view east: Class PC-7, built December 1950, former Milwaukee Road 85A, out-shopped September 1980 (Circa Summer 1998)
LIRR EMD F7Am number 620, Syosset Station, view east: Class PC-7, built December 1950, former Milwaukee Road 85A, out-shopped September 1980 (Circa Summer 1998)

A New Landia Station is Proposed

In the final decades of the twentieth century there was ongoing debate to reestablish Landia Station.  By 1978, Syosset and nearby Hicksville Station served 1,675 and 4,500 commuters a day, respectively, most of whom utilized available parking facilities.  To ease traffic congestion in Syosset’s downtown, it was suggested that Landia reopen.  Also, in light of high gas prices, employees of the Fairchild Camera Company sent a petition to the MTA, LIRR President Gabreski, and Oyster Bay town officials, for a new Landia Station.  In response, a $175,000 service coordination study was planned.[121]

However, in May of 1979 the railroad’s chief engineer John Woodward revealed there were no plans for the study.  Angering Fairchild employees, he claimed that the MTA was never formally requested by town officials to study the idea nor was it commissioned.  In light of public outcry, the MTA revisited the idea and planned to apply for a federal grant.  The estimated cost for a station with both high-level platforms and the required Robbins Lane grade crossing elimination was $1.5 million.  Residents and Fairchild employees were pleased and planned to petition Oyster Bay town to turn fourteen acres of town-owned land into parking.[122]

Location of the former LIRR Landia Station platforms, view east (November 18, 2006)
Location of the former LIRR Landia Station platforms, view east (November 18, 2006)

In January of 1982, the private consulting firm of Chase, Rosen & Wallace Inc. of Alexandria, Virginia proposed that the MTA convert a defunct town landfill into a station with a 3,700-space parking lot. Total cost of station, lot, and grade crossing was estimated at $5.74 million.  While both the town and MTA agreed there should be a new station, there were a few unsettled issues.  Mainly, how many parking spaces and whom should pay for construction.  The town said the railroad but the railroad said the town.  Another disagreement was where the landfill was located.  The town said Syosset, but the MTA said Jericho.  The thirty-five acre lot in question was north of Robbins Lane near the Long Island Expressway.  It was closed in 1975 and the town was under state orders to put an impervious cap on the landfill to prevent chemicals from seeping into groundwater.[123]

A public hearing on the station was held at South Woods Junior High School on April 21, 1982.  Although 200 persons were in attendance, not much was accomplished until the following October when an agreement was reached.[124]  A smaller 1,500-space lot would be constructed and financed with town funds, which is what the railroad sought with parking limited to residents.  The lot was estimated at $1.6 million.  On the other hand, the plans for layover tracks were dismissed to appease the town.  For the landfill clean-up, the town contracted with the engineering firm of Lockwood, Kessler & Bartlett to conduct a $25,000 three-month study to seek options for venting methane.[125]

Location of the former LIRR Landia Station, Robbins Lane crossing, view east (November 18, 2006)
Location of the former LIRR Landia Station, Robbins Lane crossing, view east (November 18, 2006)

While prospects of a new Landia Station were high in the mid-1980s, no station was constructed.  One setback was that local residents were unhappy with the traffic congestion that the new station would bring.  No doubt the Main Line electrification to Ronkonkoma, which was approved by the MTA on March 18, 1984, also put a damper on hopes for Landia as a majority of capital funds were funneled to the Ronkonkoma project.  By the end of 1984, Landia was not part of the capital plan that ran through the end of 1986.  Reopening was once again explored in the early twenty-first century.  In 2001, finding a solution to the ongoing parking problem led town clerk Martha Offerman to form a small committee which proposed a new station at the old site and a 1,000-car parking lot.  The new plan also called for a main entrance to the lot through the north service road of the Long Island Expressway, with additional entrances at Gordon Road and Robbins Lane.  By this time the town placed a cap on the landfill.  Nonetheless, no station was built.[126]

Dual-Mode Locomotives and the Closing of Mill Neck

At the end of the twentieth century, the LIRR proposed service changes on the Oyster Bay Branch at both Mill Neck and Oyster Bay Stations.  While some of these were initiated, others were only recommendations to either conserve or improve service.  One proposal was to restructure the line. Under a five-year capital improvement program, the MTA financed a $2 million marketing and engineering study in 1984.  Completed in the spring of 1985, the study suggested converting the Oyster Bay Branch to a light rail line.  The close proximity of stations did not allow speedier use of diesel trains and a light rail system was a quicker mode of transportation.  Another suggestion was paving over the tracks and creating a special bus lane.  Lastly, the report recommended that the line be electrified.[127]

Although only a study, it was apparent a change in service was needed.  Indeed, the Oyster Bay Branch Commuters Association formed as a result of service cutbacks.  The LIRR cut service in October of 1983 in an attempt to reduce cleaning costs citing that fewer commuters utilized the line.  Service decreases included added transfers at Jamaica and the elimination of a Hunterspoint Avenue-bound train.  In response, the Commuters Association balked at the idea of a light rail substitute.[128]  Nevertheless, the MTA hired the firm of Seelye, Stevenson, Barker & Sloane to determine the feasibility it.  The study recommended that a $75 milion system with modern trolley-like cars would provide faster and more frequent service.  Under operation by Nassau County or the Metropolitan Suburban Bus Authority, it would also cut travel time from Oyster Bay to Mineola from forty-four minutes to twenty-seven minutes.  In addition, the firm suggested new schedules to increase service on the most heavily traveled area between Glen Cove and Mineola.  Travel time would be further reduced by skipping stops and consolidating one or more stations.[129]

LIRR Oyster Bay Yard, view east: GP38-2 number 266 and MP15-AC number P161 [converted to power cab option April 1984] in view (Circa Winter 1998)
LIRR Oyster Bay Yard, view east: GP38-2 number 266 and MP15-AC number P161 [converted to power cab option April 1984] in view (Circa Winter 1998)
In the end, the light rail proposal proved to be a moot point since a plan announced in the late-1980s called for the development of special engines that would have both diesel and electric power.  Dual-mode ability would enable passengers to have a one-seat ride from non-electrified territory to New York City without changing trains.[130]

It took over ten years before the new diesel fleet arrived.  In the meantime, the railroad closed select station ticket windows in 1996 in an effort to save money, replacing them with ticket vending machines.  Considered a low-volume ticket selling station with less than 3,000 per month, Oyster Bay Station was one of the thirty-two stations announced.  Previously, agency hours were changed to 6:10 a.m. to 1:45 p.m. on July 23, 1992 in an effort to provide early morning service.  However, on November 6, 1996 the station agency closed permanently.[131]

Former LIRR Oyster Bay Station depot, view west, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)
Former LIRR Oyster Bay Station depot, view west, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)

In February of 1996, the LIRR announced that the new diesel fleet would be ready the following year.  Both diesel-electric and dual-mode diesel locomotives were ordered.  To prepare for the arrival of 114 bi-level diesel cars, the railroad proposed to close thirteen “least-used stations.” Since the new cars did not have stairs they could not serve stations with low-level platforms at grade.  Similar to the situation at Landia, ridership at some stations did not warrant construction of high-level platforms.  LIRR spokeswoman Susan McGowan stated that some stations had only a handful of daily riders and a platform upgrade was not fiscally responsible.  On average, new platforms cost from $232,000 to $2 million each.  McGowan added that closing stations was necessary because of a loss of $31 million in state funds in 1995 and an expected loss of another $31 million in 1996.[132]

Oyster Bay Station warranted a new platform but Mill Neck did not.  While customer reaction was highly critical of other station closures system-wide, according to the MTA no one “uttered a word of dismay” towards the proposal to close Mill Neck.  In fact, by January of 1997 there were no schedules posted and the station sign was missing.[133]  Service was improved since the cutbacks of the early 1970s.  Five midday non-rush-hour roundtrips were added to the Mill Neck schedule by 1980.[134]  Nevertheless, the MTA board approved the discontinuation of service at Mill Neck, and nine other stations, on March 26, 1997.[135]  The LIRR reported that the station only served two customers a day.  Last day of service was March 13, 1998.[136]  The last westbound train to make a station stop was number 553 at 2:51 p.m., and the last eastbound was number 562 at 6:55 p.m.[137]

Former LIRR Mill Neck Station platform, view west (June 7, 2014)
Former LIRR Mill Neck Station platform, view west (June 7, 2014)
LIRR Oyster Bay, Mill Neck, Locust Valley Timetable Effective November 17, 1997: The last timetable to mark eastbound service to Mill Neck Station
LIRR Oyster Bay, Mill Neck, Locust Valley Timetable Effective November 17, 1997: The last timetable to mark eastbound service to Mill Neck Station
LIRR Oyster Bay, Mill Neck, Locust Valley Timetable Effective November 17, 1997: The last timetable to mark westbound service from Mill Neck Station
LIRR Oyster Bay, Mill Neck, Locust Valley Timetable Effective November 17, 1997: The last timetable to mark westbound service from Mill Neck Station

One high-level, four-car-length platform was scheduled for Oyster Bay.  However, the station was relocated and the old depot became the site of a museum.  In fact, the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum is home to one of two surviving LIRR steam locomotives.  The story of engine number 35 begins in 1928.  In that year, the seventy-foot locomotive weighing more than 106 tons was built at a cost of $32,000.  In 1955, after running 925,000 miles, the LIRR donated it to Nassau County.  Number 35 was on display in Eisenhower Park for more than twenty years but was eventually left at Mitchell Field where it began to rust.  Railroad enthusiasts took notice and the Locomotive 35 Restoration Committee was formed and began work in 1990 using original books and blueprints for guidance.  By the mid-1990s, the G-5 locomotive sat dismantled on a railroad siding adjacent to the construction of the Cradle of Aviation Museum.[138]

LIRR EMD GP38-2 number 271, Oyster Bay Station, view east: Class E-20mc, built January-February 1976 (Circa March 1996)
LIRR Oyster Bay Station platform and EMD GP38-2 number 271, view east: Class E-20mc, built January-February 1976 (Circa March 1996)

When the LIRR announced plans to elevate the Oyster Bay platform and relocate the boarding area seven hundred feet to the west it also planned to abandon its depot.  At this time, the Oyster Bay Historical Society, under the direction of Tom Kuehhas, drafted a detailed proposal to move number 35 to Oyster Bay. He envisioned the society operating a museum in the old depot geared towards the history of the Oyster Bay Branch. The restoration volunteer group would also continue to repair and ultimately run the old steam locomotive.  As the LIRR planned to reconfigure its storage tracks in Oyster Bay, it contemplated leasing the old depot, an old and unused turntable, and some of its property for the creation of the museum.  On June 13, 1997, the Oyster Bay Historical Society held a lecture discussion about the proposed railroad museum with members of the engine 35 group in attendance.[139]  By the fall of 1997, the railroad agreed to renovate its yard and equipment to free up space and allow for more access to the downtown area.  The northeast corner of the yard was relinquished to the new museum, complete with the aforementioned turntable.[140]

In the meantime, one high-level platform with two shelters was constructed at Firemens’ Field, across from today’s Oyster Bay Memorial Stadium.  Work began in December of 1997 and continued into 1998.[141]  Monday, September 14, 1998 was the last day the low-level platform was used.  Thereafter, all departing and arriving trains began using the high-level platform at the new location.  Not only was the new platform required because the new coaches did not have stairs, the American Disability Act mandated that facilities must be handicapped accessible.[142]

LIRR Oyster Bay Station, view west (June 20, 2013)
LIRR Oyster Bay Station, high-level platform, view west (June 20, 2013)
LIRR Oyster Bay Station, passenger shelter, view west (June 20, 2013)
LIRR Oyster Bay Station, high-level platform passenger shelter, view west (June 20, 2013)

Subsequently, the Oyster Bay town supervisor and the LIRR negotiated a deal whereby the railroad agreed to donate its former depot building.  In early 1999, the LIRR officially closed the old station depot and the town board held a public hearing to designate it as an historical landmark.[143]  Since 2004, the depot and plaza are owned by the town.  Currently, the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum leases the building and is responsible for its necessitous rehabilitation.  The former canopies were removed in the 1940s.  By the 1960s, many of the windows and doors were sealed.[144]  It was at this time that the depot received a fresh coat of yellow around its brick walls as part of a two-month repainting program at ten Nassau County stations.[145]  Today, work at the railroad museum is ongoing.  Engine 35 was finally moved to Oyster Bay over the summer of 2001.[146]

Former LIRR Oyster Bay Station depot, waiting room, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)
Former LIRR Oyster Bay Station depot, waiting room, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)
Turntable, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)
Turntable, Oyster Bay Railroad Museum (June 7, 2014)

The Oyster Bay Railroad Museum became part of a downtown harbor revitalization program, which included the purchase of a 200-year old shipyard.  The project was temporarily delayed in 1997 because of a lawsuit between Oyster Bay and Commander Oil, the operator of an oil company on the harbor since 1929.  Following settlement, the Jacobson shipyard was acquired and linked to the existing Roosevelt Memorial Park to create a half-mile stretch of public waterfront.  The entire revitalization project costing over $12 million transformed the half-mile North Shore waterfront property from a decaying, derelict shipyard into a park and recreation area with manicured paths and a marine education center.[147]

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park beach, Oyster Bay (June 7, 2014)
Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park beach, Oyster Bay (June 7, 2014)

Syosset Station Safety Concerns

In Syosset, station platform safety became a concern at the start of the twentieth-first century.  Identified as a stop with one of the widest gaps between the platform and railroad car, LIRR president James Dermody outlined a plan on August 11, 2006 to install closed-circuit monitors.  As aforementioned, both the eastbound and westbound platforms have an acute curvature with a fifteen-inch gap in some parts, twice the railroad’s standard.  The safety concern came in the wake of the death of Natalie Smead, a Minnesota tourist hit by a train in early August 2006 at Woodside Station. Smead fell through an eleven-inch gap while stepping off a westbound train and attempted to cross under the platform but was struck by an eastbound train.  Indeed, Syosset Station was the site of at least 36 gap-related accidents from 1989 through 2006.[148]

The gap issue resurrected reopening Landia Station.  In the new plan, Landia was envisioned to take the place of Syosset Station since it provided a straight track without curved platforms.  However, a coalition of civic groups, such as the Cerro Wire Coalition, claimed that proponents of the relocation were not concerned about gap-related injuries but instead were using the issue to help build a mall next to the site.  Michigan-based Taubman Centers first proposed a mall on the site of the former Cerro Wire plant in the 1990s. Taubman and the town, which rejected the mall proposal in 2001, were in a court battle since.  The latest proposal included a second means of mall access via a piece of land at the end of Gordon Drive, owned by the town.[149]

Town of Oyster Bay Hall (July 13, 2014)
Town of Oyster Bay Hall (July 13, 2014)

The battle between Taubman and the community reached a climax in the summer of 2013.  The town held a referendum regarding the sale of the Cerro property to Oyster Bay Realty LLC.  By a 2-1 margin, registered voters supported the sale of the public works property.  The vote was of significance since the realtor is partners with Simon Property Group, owner of nearby Roosevelt Field Mall.  The decision all but kills Taubman’s chance to construct a mall since Simon doesn’t want mall competition.[150]

LIRR Syosset Station, pedestrian overpass and westbound high-level platform shelter, view west (November 18, 2006)
LIRR Syosset Station, pedestrian overpass and westbound high-level platform shelter, view west (November 18, 2006)

In the meantime, a closed-circuit camera system was installed at Syosset Station and silenced discussion of Landia.  Designed to alert conductors of problems along the track, the system, purchased with a $1.3 million state grant secured by State Senator Carl L. Marcellino, began operation on February 28, 2007.  It features twenty-four closed-circuit cameras, twelve on each platform.  Syosset was the first station to receive cameras since it had nine gap injuries from 2001 through 2006.  Additionally, the station received new platform shelters, canopies over each platform, and lamps.[151]  There was also discussion in December of 2007 to extend the westbound platform eastward by as much as 600 feet.[152]

LIRR Syosset Station, high-level platforms, view east (November 18, 2006)
DigLIRR Syosset Station, high-level platforms, view east (November 18, 2006)

Conclusion

Beginning in the 1950s, most of Oyster Bay was developed as subdivisions.  Communities such as Forest Estates were completed, featuring split-levels, ranches and colonials on quarter-acre lots.  Today, the current shopping district is comprised of a hundred, mostly retail, storefronts and each the year the Oyster Bay Chamber of Commerce sponsors the annual Oyster Festival.[153]  To the South, Syosset offers a highly-regarded school district, as well as an array of shops, services, restaurants, professional businesses, and houses of worship.  Neighborhoods feature diverse architectural styles, including split-levels, capes, colonials, ranch styles and some contemporaries that sit on lots from sixty-by-hundred-feet to over an acre.[154]

Jackson Avenue, Syosset (September 1, 2014)
Jackson Avenue, Syosset (September 1, 2014)
Syosset Fire Department Memorial (September 1, 2014)
Syosset Fire Department Memorial (September 1, 2014)

On the LIRR, the M-7 unit replaced the M-1.  The new cars began to arrive in the spring of 2002.[155]  Currently, there are plans to replace all remaining M-3 units with the arrival of the M-9 in late 2017.[156]  Dual-mode service was introduced on the Oyster Bay Branch early in the year 2000.[157]  Presently, there is discussion to initiate a new scoot service on the Oyster Bay Branch, which carries about 6,100 customers each weekday.  The idea calls for smaller, faster shuttles in an aim to increase train frequency and ease congestion at Jamaica Station before the start of service to Grand Central Terminal in 2019.  The scoot service would be operated by smaller and faster diesel trains that could haul as few as two coaches.  The LIRR’s plan is to operate shuttle trains every thirty to forty-five minutes between Oyster Bay and Mineola where connections to Manhattan-bound trains are plentiful.  Scheduled Manhattan and Jamaica bound trains would be replaced with shuttle service requiring almost all travelers to transfer at Mineola.  LIRR head Helena Williams stated that scoot service allows the agency to enhance service at a fraction of the cost of electrifying tracks.[158]

LIRR Syosset Station depot and M7 number 7539, Jackson Avenue crossing, view east (November 18, 2006)
LIRR Syosset Station depot and M7 number 7539, Jackson Avenue crossing, view east (November 18, 2006)

 

Next page: Rail Service in and around the City of Glen Cove

 
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[1] Henry Isham Hazelton, The Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, Long Island, New York, 1609-1924 (New York: Lewis Historical, 1925), 922-924.

[2] Staff of Long Island, Our Story, Home Town Long Island: the History of Every Community on Long Island in Stories and Photographs (Melville, NY: Newsday, 1999), 57.

[3] Frances Irvin, Oyster Bay: a Sketch (Oyster Bay, NY: Oyster Bay Historical Society, 1987), 13.

[4] Ibid., 20-21.

[5] Hazelton, The Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, Long Island, 922-924; Staff of Long Island, Home Town Long Island, 47.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Irvin, Oyster Bay: a Sketch, 28-31.

[8] Ibid., 24.

[9] Hazelton, The Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, 922-944.

[10] Irvin, Oyster Bay: a Sketch, 35.

[11] Ibid., 39.

[12] Ibid., 41.

[13] Youngs Memorial Cemetery Corporation, The Story of Youngs Memorial Cemetery, brochure for the Youngs Memorial Cemetery (Oyster Bay, NY: Youngs Memorial Cemetery, 2014).)

[14] Our Story, Home Town Long Island, 54.

[15] Ibid., 47.

[16] Andree Brooks, “If You’re Thinking of Living In/Bayville: Out of the Way, and Eager to Stay There,” New York Times (1923-Current file), November 14, 1993, http://www.proquest.com.

[17] Irvin, Oyster Bay: a Sketch, 150.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Tom Montalbano, Images of America: Syosset (New York: Arcadia Publishing, 2001; Marjorie Wolfe, “Living In/Charm Is Syosset’s Claim to Fame,” Newsday (Combined Editions), January 19, 1997, http://www.proquest.com; Lisa Doll Bruno, “Living in Syosset: A Sprawling Hamlet of Diverse Styles,” Newsday (Combined Editions), November 14, 2003, http://www.proquest.com.

[20] Oyster Bay Historical Society, A Walking Tour of Oyster Bay (Mattituck, NY: Peconic Companies, 1996), 10-11.

[21] Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 6, The Golden Age 1881-1900 (Garden City, NY: Seyfried, 1984), 60.

[22] Ibid., 60-61.

[23] Ibid., 62-63.

[24] Ibid; Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 6, 65; Box 5, Book 19, Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection.

[25] Ibid., 66-67.

[26] Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 3, Age of Expansion (Garden City, NY: Seyfried, 1984), 204; David D. Morrison and Valerie Pakaluk, Images of Rail: Long Island Rail Road Stations (Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), 119.

[27] Vincent F. Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 7, The Age of Electrification 1901-1916 (Garden City, NY: Seyfried, 1984), 346.

[28] “Long Island Rail Road: Alphabetical Station Listing and History,” Trains are Fun, accessed July 16, 2013, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirrphotos/LIRR%20Station%20History.htm; Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 6, 278; “Oyster Bay Branch,” Trains are Fun, accessed April 26, 2017 16, 2013, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/oyster%20bay%20branch/oysterbaybranch.htm.

[29] “L.I. Residents to Transform Rail Station into Village Hall, Police Headquarters,” New York Times (1923-Current file), March 10, 1958, http://www.proquest.com.

[30] Hazelton, The Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, 392.

[31] “Long Island Railroad Summer Arrangement,” Corrector (Sag Harbor), June 25, 1856,  http://apa3.olivesoftware.com.

[32] “Long Island Railroad Summer Arrangement,” Long Islander (Huntington), July 1, 1864,  http://apa3.olivesoftware.com.

[33] Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 3, 196.

[34] Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 6, 274.

[35] “Syosset Station Gets Face Lifted,” Newsday (1940-1986), December 8, 1944,  http://www.proquest.com.

[36] “LIRR Sees $4Million Loss even with New Fare Boost,” Newsday (1940-1986), February 6, 1948, http://www.proquest.com; “Syosset Lions to Hear LIRR Exec,” Newsday (1940-1986), July 7, 1948,  http://www.proquest.com.

[37] “Double-tracking Railroad to Syosset,” Long Islander (Huntington), September 30, 1910,  http://apa3.olivesoftware.com; “Syosset Station view E winter 1961,” Trains are Fun, accessed February 27, 2016, http://www.trainsarefun.com/lirr/stations/Syosset_viewE_Winter1961_IrvingSolomon.jpg.

[38] “News about Railroads: Route to Boston via Oyster Bay and Wilson’s Point,” New York Times, July 10, 1891, http://www.proquest.com.

[39] “Eastward by the Line,” New York Times, September 18, 1891, http://www.proquest.com.

[40] “New Terminal for the Long Island Railroad,” South Side Signal (Babylon), September 12, 1891, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com.

[41] “The Scheme Did Not Pay,” New York Times, January 29, 1892, http://www.proquest.com.

[42] “Oyster Bay,” Long Islander (Huntington), February 06, 1892, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com.

[43] “Oyster Bay to Syosset,” Long Islander (Huntington), January 16, 1892, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com.

[44] “New-England Terminal,” New York Times, July 20, 1892, http://www.proquest.com.

[45] Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Box 13, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries. Long Island Rail Road Time Tables, Schedule in Effect June 27, 1895, by Long Island Rail Road (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1895), Oyster Bay Branch.)

[46] Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Box 13, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries. Long Island Rail Road Time Tables, Schedule in Effect June 23, 1898, by Long Island Rail Road (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1898), Oyster Bay Branch.

[47] Ibid.; Seyfried, The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, vol. 7, 346.

[48] Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Box 13, Time Tables, Schedule in Effect June 27, 1895, Port Jefferson Branch.

[49] Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Box 13, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries. Port Jefferson Branch Timetable, Schedule in Effect September 20, 1905, by Long Island Rail Road (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1905).

[50] Frances Irvin, Oyster Bay: a Sketch, 163-164.

[51] Hazelton, The Boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens, Counties of Nassau and Suffolk, 922-924.

[52] Oyster Bay Historical Society, A Walking Tour of Oyster Bay, 8.

[53] Frances Irvin, Oyster Bay: a Sketch,74.

[54] Staff of Long Island, Home Town Long Island, 54.

[55] Richard Roberts, “The Best Places to Perch To See the Birds Check In,” New York Times (1923-Current file), April 12, 1985, http://www.proquest.com.

[56] Beatrice O. Freeman, “Bird-Watching Areas near New York: Long Island Westchester-Hudson Connecticut,” New York Times (1923-Current file), July 15, 1956, http://www.proquest.com.

[57] Staff of Long Island, Home Town Long Island, 55.

[58] Youngs Memorial Cemetery Corporation, The Story of Youngs Memorial Cemetery.

[59] Staff of Long Island, Our Story, Home Town Long Island, 54-57.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Brooks, “If You’re Thinking of Living In/Bayville.”

[62] Wolfe, “Living In/Charm Is Syosset’s Claim to Fame”; Bruno, “Living in Syosset: A Sprawling Hamlet of Diverse Styles.”

[63] “L.I.R.R. Envisions Big Improvements following the War,” New York Times (1923-Current file), May 6, 1943, http://www.proquest.com.

[64] John J. Scala, Diesels of the Sunrise Trail (Mineola, NY: Weekend Chief Pub., 1984), 21.

[65] Ibid.

[66] “Trains in Area Cancelled to Save Fuel,” New York Times (1923-Current file), November 23, 1946, http://www.proquest.com.

[67] “Rail Service Cut to Conserve Coal,” New York Times (1923-Current file), March 20, 1948, http://www.proquest.com.

[68] “Train Ordered Restored,” New York Times (1923-Current file), May 25, 1950, http://www.proquest.com.

[69] “Must Restore Two Trains,” New York Times (1923-Current file), July 26, 1950, http://www.proquest.com.

[70] Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter, 175th Anniversary Journal, Long Island Rail Road, April 24, 2009 (New York: National Railway Historical Society, 2009).

[71] Scala, Diesels of the Sunrise Trail, 27.

[72] Ibid.; Long Island Railroad, Taking Effect May 23, 1928, Daylight Saving Time, Long Island Railroad Time Tables (New York: Long Island Railroad, 1928), Oyster Bay Branch; Long Island Rail Road, Schedule in Effect September 9, 1951, Long Island Rail Road, William H. Draper, Jr., Trustee, Time Tables (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1951), Oyster Bay Branch; “LIRR Authorized to Modify Part-Carload Freight Service,” Patchogue Advance, February 4, 1960, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com; Marie Cocco, “LIRR Updates Freight Car Repairs,” Newsday (1940-1988), May 6, 1982, http://www.proquest.com.

[73] “LIRR Asks PSC Okay to Save $587 a Year,” Newsday (1940-1986), January 17, 1951, http://www.proquest.com.

[74] “L.I. Residents to Transform Rail Station into Village Hall.”.

[75] Long Island Railroad, Taking Effect May 23, 1928; Long Island Rail Road, Schedule in Effect September 9, 1951.

[76] “L.I.R.R. Faces Study on through Trains,” New York Times (1923-Current file), July 14, 1951, http://www.proquest.com.

[77] Lawrence C. Levy, “Petitions Ask LIRR to Reopen Station Close to Syosset Plant,” Newsday (1940-1986), April 12, 1979, http://www.proquest.com.

[78] “Long Island Rail Road: Alphabetical Station Listing and History.”

[79] Long Island Rail Road, Schedule in Effect October 3, 1955, Long Island Rail Road, William H. Draper, Jr., Trustee, Time Tables (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1955), Port Jefferson Branch.

[80] Long Island Rail Road, Schedule in Effect September 11, 1961, Long Island Rail Road, William H. Draper, Jr., Trustee, Time Tables (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1961), Port Jefferson Branch.

[81] Scala, Diesels of the Sunrise Trail, 33.

[82] Ibid., 43.

[83] “Panel to Study R.R.’s Future,” Islip Bulletin, October 01, 1964, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com.

[84] Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter, 175th Anniversary Journal, Long Island Rail Road.

[85] Scala, Diesels of the Sunrise Trail, 48.

[86] Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Box 13, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries. Long Island Rail Road Time Tables, Schedule in Effect June 23, 1898, by Long Island Rail Road (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1898), Oyster Bay Branch.

[87] Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Box 13, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries. Long Island Rail Road Time Tables, Schedule in Effect July 1, 1914, by Long Island Rail Road (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1914), Oyster Bay Branch.

[88] Robert M. Emery Long Island Rail Road Collection, Box 13, Special Collections, Stony Brook University Libraries. Long Island Rail Road Time Tables, Schedule in Effect June 25, 1908, by Long Island Rail Road (New York: Long Island Rail Road, 1908), Oyster Bay Branch.

[89] “Fried Grasshoppers on L.I.R.R? Party Gets Frogs’ Legs, Too,” New York Times (1923-Current file), August 20, 1965, http://www.proquest.com.

[90] Mike Unger, “LIRR Gets Grant to Speed Service,” Newsday (1940-1986), June 14, 1967, http://www.proquest.com.

[91] Edward Hudson, “L.I.R.R. to Test New Cars for 1,000 Miles before Buying Them,” New York Times (1923-Current file), February 19, 1970, http://www.proquest.com.

[92] “Track Improvements Halts LIRR Trains,” Long Islander (Huntington), March 07, 1968, http://apa3.olivesoftware.com.

[93] “Realignment of Syosset RR Tracks is Underway,” Syosset Tribune, July 18, 1968.

[94] “Start Construction on LIRR Platforms,” Syosset Tribune, November 13, 1969; MTA Long Island Rail Road, Timetable No.1, effective: 12:01 a.m. Monday, June 18, 2001 for the Government of Employees Only (MTA Long Island Rail Road: New York, 2001).

[95] “LIRR to Run Electric Trains,” Syosset Tribune, October 15, 1970.

[96] “LIRR: Current Event,” Newsday (1940-1986), October 9, 1970, http://www.proquest.com; Paul Schreiber and Sylvia Carter, “LIRR Commuters Given New Power,” Newsday (1940-1986), October 20, 1970, http://www.proquest.com.

[97] Sylvia Carter, “The Rails Are Electrified, but the Commuters Aren’t,” Newsday (1940-1986), November 3, 1970, http://www.proquest.com.

[98] Maureen O. Neill, “LIRR: On Time, but Still in Hot Water,” Newsday (1940-1986), July 1, 1971, http://www.proquest.com.

[99] Metropolitan Long Island Rail Road Company, The Long Island Rail Road Company, Timetable No. 5, effective 12.01 A.M. Monday, May 26, 1969 (New York: Long Island Rail Road), Port Jefferson Branch.

[100] Edward G. Smith, “Station Is a Figment of LIRR’s Imagination,” Newsday (1940-1986), March 3, 1971, http://www.proquest.com.

[101] Sylvia Carter, “For 2 Stations, a Requiem,” Newsday (1940-1986), June 27, 1972, http://www.proquest.com; “Long Island Rail Road: Alphabetical Station Listing and History.”

[102] Christopher M. Cook and Howard Crook, “LIRR Revamps its Schedules; Adds Trains on Most Branches,” Newsday (1940-1986), June 18, 1972, http://www.proquest.com; Emanuel Perlmutter, “L.I.R.R Improving Service on all Lines under a New Timetable,” New York Times (1923-Current file), June 18, 1972, http://www.proquest.com.

[103] Metropolitan Long Island Rail Road Company, The Long Island Rail Road Company, Timetable No. 5, effective 12.01 A.M. Monday, May 26, 1969, Port Jefferson Branch; Long Island Rail Road, Effective May 19, 1975, Port Jefferson Branch, The Long Island Rail Road (New York: The Long Island Rail Road, 1975).

[104] Perlmutter, “L.I.R.R Improving Service on all Lines under a New Timetable.”

[105] Scala, Diesels of the Sunrise Trail, 48.

[106] Betti Logan, “Fewer Trains, New Times for LIRR,” Newsday (1940-1986), September 22, 1973, http://www.proquest.com.

[107] Metropolitan Long Island Rail Road Company, The Long Island Rail Road Company, effective May 26, 1969, Oyster Bay Branch.

[108] Long Island Rail Road, Effective May 20, 1974, Oyster Bay Branch, The Long Island Rail Road (New York: The Long Island Rail Road, 1974).

[109] The Long Island Rail Road, Effective May 24, 1976, Oyster Bay Branch, The Long Island Rail Road (New York: The Long Island Rail Road, 1976).

[110] Edward C. Burks, “LIRR Trains, Nice but Late,” New York Times (1923-Current file), March 21, 1976, http://www.proquest.com.

[111] Ibid.

[112] Burks, “LIRR Trains, Nice but Late”; Edward C. Burks, “Change at Jamaica: A Turbine-Powered Train,” New York Times (1923-Current file), June 20, 1976, http://www.proquest.com.

[113] Scala, Diesels of the Sunrise Trail, 49.

[114] Ibid, 49.

[115] Ibid., 70.

[116] Alfonso A. Castillo, “LIRR Eliminates Pair of Rescue Trains,” Newsday (Combined Editions), September 16, 2010, http://www.proquest.com.

[117] Scala, Diesels of the Sunrise Trail, 49.

[118] Long Island Sunrise Trail Chapter, 175th Anniversary Journal, Long Island Rail Road.

[119] Scala, Diesels of the Sunrise Trail, 49.

[120] Ibid., 48-49; Ibid., 70.

[121] Richard Galant, “MTA Study to Consider Reopening Rail Station,” Newsday (1940-1986), May 3, 1978, http://www.proquest.com; Lawrence C. Levy, “Petitions Ask LIRR to Reopen Station Close to Syosset Plant,” Newsday (1940-1986), April 12, 1979, http://www.proquest.com.

[122] Lawrence C. Levy, “Workers at Fairchild Angered By Lack of LIRR Study Plan,” Newsday (1940-1986), May 17, 1979, http://www.proquest.com; “Push to Reopen Syosset Train Depot,” Newsday (1940-1986), June 8, 1979, http://www.proquest.com.

[123] Sylvia Moreno, “Landfill Conversion To Station Proposed,” Newsday (1940-1986), January 5, 1982, http://www.proquest.com; Bill Bleyer, “LIRR Depot Plan Disputed,” Newsday (1940-1986), March 21, 1982, http://www.proquest.com.

[124] “MTA Schedules Hearing on New Station for LIRR,” Newsday (1940-1986), April 18, 1982, http://www.proquest.com.

[125] Bill Bleyer, “Accord Set on New Syosset Station,” Newsday (1940-1986), October 23, 1982, http://www.proquest.com.

[126] Bill Bleyer, “MTA Votes Rail Electrification Plan,” Newsday (1940-1986), March 19, 1983, http://www.proquest.com; Bill Blever, “MTA OKs Plan Holding Down Fares,” Newsday (Nassau and Suffolk Edition), December 8, 1984, http://www.proquest.com; “Meeting on New Station,” Newsday (1940-1986), May 18, 1984, http://www.proquest.com; Victor Manuel Ramos, “Stop & Go/A Weekly Guide to the Roads &Rails on Long Island/Parking Woes Prompt Call to Reopen Station,” Newsday (Nassau and Suffolk Edition), August 13, 2001, http://www.proquest.com.

[127] Debra Wetzel, “L.I.R.R. Eyes a ‘Trolley’ Line for Oyster Bay,” New York Times (1951-2010), November 25, 1984, http://www.proquest.com.

[128] Ibid.

[129] John T. McQuiston, “L.I.R.R Electrification: New Delays, News Plans,” New York Times (1923-Current file), February 23, 1986, http://www.proquest.com.

[130] Ibid.

[131] Ed McCoyd, “LIRR Alters Ticket Hours,” Newsday (Nassau and Suffolk Edition), July 23, 1992, http://www.proquest.com; Phil Mintz, “LIRR Machines Replace Vendors,” Newsday (Combined Editions), November 7, 1996, http://www.proquest.com.

[132] John T. McQuiston, “Annoyance at L.I.R.R. Plan to Shut Stations,” New York Times (1923-Current file), February 24, 1996, http://www.proquest.com.

[133] Sidney C. Schaer, “Stop & Go/A Weekly Guide to the Roads & Rails on Long Island/The Rail Rider/Mill Neck Station Plan Barely Draws Whispers,” Newsday (Nassau and Suffolk Edition), January 26, 1997, http://www.proquest.com.

[134] Long Island Rail Road, Effective December 20, 1980, Oyster Bay Branch, The Long Island Rail Road (New York: The Long Island Rail Road, 1980)

[135] Sidney C. Schaer, “LIRR Shutdowns OKd/MTA Approval Given to Close 10 Stations,” Newsday (Nassau and Suffolk Edition), March 28, 1997, http://www.proquest.com.

[136] Somini Sengupta, “End of the Line for L.I.R.R.’s 10 Loneliest Stops,” New York Times (1923-Current file), March 15, 1998, http://www.proquest.com.

[137] Long Island Rail Road, Oyster Bay Branch Timetable effective November 17, 1997 (New York: Metropolitan Transportation Authority, 1997).

[138] Kara Blond, “In Nassau/Locomotion on the Waterfront / Train Drives Plans for a New Museum,” Newsday (Hempstead East Edition), April 28, 2000, http://www.proquest.com.

[139] Bill Bleyer, “In North Hempstead/The Little Engine That Could, Maybe/Homeless Old Train May Find a Home in Oyster Bay,” Newsday (Nassau Edition), March 23, 1997, http://www.proquest.com; Rick Robinson, “Historical Society Meeting,” Oyster Bay Guardian, June 20, 1997; Collin Nash, “In Oyster Bay/Train’s Future Remains Derailed / Town May Serve as Final Resting Place for Locomotive, if Plan Can Be Ironed Out,” Newsday (Oyster Bay Edition), January 24, 1999, http://www.proquest.com.

[140] Vivien Kellerman, “Suit in Oyster Bay Stymies Redevelopment,” New York Times (1923-Current file), November 23, 1997, http://www.proquest.com.

[141] “LIRR Work Begins in LV,” Locust Valley Leader, November 13, 1997.

[142] Walter G. Karppi, “Riding the New LIRR: Oyster Bay Gets a Glimpse of the Future,” Oyster Bay Enterprise-Pilot, January 14, 1999.

[143] John Hammond, “Steam Powered Locomotive 35 to Return to Oyster Bay as Part of Railroad Museum,” Oyster Bay Guardian, April 24, 1998.

[144] Oyster Bay Railroad Station, exhibit on display at Oyster Bay Railroad Museum, Oyster Bay, NY.

[145] “L.I.R.R. Paints Stations,” New York Times (1923-Current file), August 6, 1961, http://www.proquest.com.

[146] Bill Bleyer, “Engine No. 35 on Track for Museum/New centerpiece moves to Oyster Bay,” Newsday (Nassau and Suffolk Edition), August 3, 2001, http://www.proquest.com.

[147] Nash, “In Oyster Bay/Train’s Future Remains Derailed.”

[148] Collin Nash, “LIRR Eyes Plan to Fix the Gap,” Newsday (Combined Editions), August 12, 2006, http://www.proquest.com; Eden Laikin, “Station Moving Out?, Syosset group Wants to Close It, Build New One with Straight Platform – and an MTA Official Agrees,” Newsday (Combined Editions), November 7, 2006, http://www.proquest.com.

[149] Eden Laikin, “Some Link Syosset Gap Issue to Plan for Mall,” Newsday (Combined Editions), November 8, 2006, http://www.proquest.com.

[150] Bill Bleyer, “Mall Fight Still on Judge Likely to Rule Soon in Suit Against Land Sale Referendum Not End to 18-year Cerro Wire Battle,” Newsday (Combined Editions), August 22, 2013, http://www.proquest.com.

[151] Stacey, “Syosset Sees Way to Safety, $1.3M Closed-Circuit Camera System Debuts at Nassau LIRR Station with Eye toward Alerts for any Track Dangers,” Newsday (Combined Editions), March 7, 2007, http://www.proquest.com.

[152] Emerson Clarridge, “Gap Safety for Syosset,” Newsday (Combined Editions), December 18, 2007, http://www.proquest.com.

[153] Kellerman, “If You’re Thinking of Living In/Oyster Bay: a Waterfront Hamlet Awash in History.”

[154] Bruno, “Living in Syosset: A Sprawling Hamlet of Diverse Styles.”

[155] John Valenti, “A Rail Improvement/LIRR Hopes New Cars Provide Smooth Ride out of the Past,” Newsday (Combined Editions), December 20, 2001, http://www.proquest.com.

[156] Alfonso A. Castillo, “Riding the Rails Will Get Nicer/MTA Plans 584 New Cars for LIRR,” Newsday (Combined Editions), September 17, 2013, http://www.proquest.com.

[157] Hugo Kugiya, “A First for LIRR Speonk-to-Penn on a Dual-Mode Train,” Newsday (Nassau and Suffolk Edition), November16, 1999, http://www.proquest.com.

[158] Alfonso A. Castillo, “’Scoot Trains’/New Shuttles Will Push Transfers Farther East,” Newsday (Combined Editions), July 22, 2013, http://www.proquest.com.

 

Next page: Rail Service in and around the City of Glen Cove

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3 thoughts on “Oyster Bay, Mill Neck, and Syosset: The History of Long Island Rail Road Service to Northeastern Nassau County

  1. The information that you currently have listed for the “first LIRR Oyster Bay train station” being a frame structure has been proven false. The existing structure is the original 1889 brick building that was highly modified in design by Bradford Lee Gilbert and re-opened for President Theodore Roosevelt in June of 1902.
    The information was taken directly from a LIRR book which showed the original structure as a brick building, not a frame building.

    1. I made some changes…do you know the name of the LIRR book that offers the information you suggest? The only book that I am aware mentions something along those lines is Images of Rail: Long Island Rail Road Stations

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