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Page 8

History of  the LIRR Part 1 continued

     These trains from Mineola, or "Hempstead Branch," as it was then called, were pulled by a dummy engine, and the whole train was familiarly known to the inhabitants as "The Dummy." A messenger ran up and down Main Street announcing to the villagers the time of departure of the next "Dummy."
     It may not be amiss to describe the now extinct dummy engine. This engine much resembled a small one-horse street car in external appearance. It was very short, however, usually containing but four windows on each side. Inside was a vertical steam boiler, with a short smokestack extending out through the roof. It had but four wheels, similar in size and arrangement to those on the old-time single truck street car, which were driven directly by a piston and connecting rod from a small cylinder located very near to the front wheel. A headlight on the front platform completed the equipment. It was not considered objectionable to run them through city streets, probably because of their slow speed, and since they were neither large nor powerful, the comparative absence of smoke and cinders.
     When the Stewart line built a branch from its main line, about opposite Magnolia Avenue straight down to Fulton Street, Hempstead, that trackage being used at present from Meadow Street crossing into Hempstead, the old Long Island Railroad lost even more of the business to Hempstead. The South Side line, from the south, had already seriously curtailed the traffic on the older line. The first train to Hempstead on the Stewart line was run in 1871. The old station on Fulton Avenue was only torn down less than ten years ago, to make way for the present handsome brick structure.
     In 1876 the owner of the Stewart line became President of the Long Island Railroad.
     To effect economies by eliminating parallel lines, the old line from Mineola to Hempstead was abandoned south of Hempstead Crossing (Garden City), and the trains to Hempstead were run via the Stewart line into Hempstead. A connecting curve was put in at Hempstead Crossing, near the point where the old Long Island Railroad crossed the Stewart line.

     The permission of the City of Brooklyn had been grudgingly given to the railroad to run steam locomotives through the streets of the city. By 1855 opposition to the continued use of steam power crystalized, and many complaints were made to the Mayor and other officials. Finally the Long Island Railroad was compelled to abandon its service into Brooklyn. The Brooklyn & Jamaica Railroad surrendered its right to a private right-of-way through the farm land, and laid its rails in the middle of Atlantic Avenue. Street cars were run from East New York to South Ferry, pulled by horses. The last train ran through the Brooklyn tunnel on September 30, 1861. The tunnel was abandoned and the entrance walled up that fall. From East New York to Jamaica steam trains were run by the railroad, but it was an unimportant branch.
     The interests of the Long Island Railroad had been safeguarded by the building of another line by the New York & Jamaica Railroad from Jamaica to Hunter's Point (now Long Island City). This meant that the railroad was deprived of a terminal in a city where over nine-tenths of the population of Long Island was located which hurt its business considerably. But from 1860 all the principal trains of the railroad were operated into this Hunter's Point terminus, where ferries connected for 34th Street, New York.

Branches to the Main Line--In 1838 a branch had been surveyed from the present site of Mineola to the large and important village of Hempstead. It was built the following year. It ran down the present Main Street to a terminus at the corner of Main and Centre Streets, the station building being still intact on the southwest corner. The track was extended to the foot of Main Street in order to carry lumber to the yard located at that point, where a connection was made with the South Side Railroad, which built into Hempstead from the south in 1869.

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Updated Thursday, March 22, 2001

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