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     Vanderbilt had since gained control of all of the east shore ferries, including the one that obtained a lease at Vanderbilt's Landing, now Clifton. When his competition had obtained the lease before him there was some discussion on the matter, and Vanderbilt, apparently through an "agent," James R. Robinson, erected a building to block the competition. At 1 p.m., July 28, 1851, the building was nearly completed when a number of gentlemen appeared with axes and adzes and began tearing the building apart. Mr. Robinson "told some of them," according to the court record, "not to cut said building, and they replied that if deponent did not get out of the way, they would cut him, too."

Opening Day
On April 23, 1860, seven-and-a-half miles of the railroad opened from the Landing to Eltingville. It was already an established source of conversation. the railroad's first locomotive was the Albert Journeay, named for the road's president.

The new locomotive, seen in work service, caused some comment. On March 21st the editor of the Staten Island Gazette noted that the "huge iron monster" was hard at work, "attracting men and boys." A week later, he elaborated:

The locomotive has been indulging itself, since its arrival, by making pleasant little trips on the railroad as far as New Dorp, and has been quite useful in conveying materials ... where required for use. Each day it is the subject of renewed comment and admiration by those who reside along the line transversed. As we stood on the Richmond Road the other day, a crowd of urchins exclaimed 'There she comes, there she comes' and scampered off to get a better look. The old folks who couldn't run [...] staid behind and talked. Some approved and some didn't. One old gentleman remarked that the locomotive was 'purty small,' while another sneeringly said 'he guessed it would be able to carry all the passengers the company could start up.'

     A need for transportation within the island arose and, in 1836, a railroad was proposed, running from the east shore to Tottenville. A charter was granted to the Staten Island Railroad incorporation of Messrs. Minthorne Tompkins, Harmon B. Cropsey, John Westervelt, John Thompson and Richard Littell. It required that work begin within two years of the grant. It did not, and the first Staten Island Railroad did not become a reality.

First Railroad
The need for a railroad became pressing. Prominent farmers and citizens of the island and the Jersey community of Perth Amboy united in an effort to establish a railroad between Tottenville and Stapleton. In 1851 articles of association were drawn up and work did actually begin. However, they soon ran into financial problems and appealed to Commodore Vanderbilt, who had since become quite wealthy, for assistance. In satisfying this request Vanderbilt took his first plunge in railroading, the enterprise that was to leave him worth over $100,000,000 at his death in 1877.

Ferries and the SIRT have always been inseparable. Here the Charles W. Galloway plies the route between Tottenville and Perth Amboy.

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Updated Sunday, December 23, 2001

©1965 Silver Leaf Rapid Transit. ©2001 Paul Matus. ©2001 The Composing Stack Inc.