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Whitestone Branch

The Whitestone Branch was a branch of the Long Island Rail Road, running north and east along the left bank of the Flushing River from the Port Washington Branch near the modern Willets Point/Flushing sections of Queens, New York. It crossed the river on one of the three bridges that were later torn down for the Van Wyck Expressway, then ran north along Flushing Bay and east along the East River to Whitestone.

Whitestone Branch
Whitestone LIRR ferry site jeh.jpg
Beechhurst Yacht Club, the site of the former northern terminus of the Whitestone Branch
Overview
TypePassenger and Freight
StatusAbandoned
LocaleQueens, New York City
TerminiWillets Point (south)
Whitestone (north)
Stations5
Operation
Opened1869 (1869)
ClosedFebruary 19, 1932 (1932-02-19)
Operator(s)Flushing and North Side Railroad
Long Island Rail Road
Technical
Number of tracks1–2
Track gauge4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Electrification1912[1]

HistoryEdit

Originally conceived as a branch of the Flushing and North Side Railroad that was intended to lead into Westchester County, New York (a connection that never materialized) in 1869, it was consolidated into the Long Island Rail Road in 1876 when its owners, the Poppenhusen family, took over the bankrupt LIRR. It later became part of a subsidiary called the Long Island City and Flushing Railroad.

On October 12, 1912 the branch was electrified.[2][3] In the 1920s the branch began to lose patronage and the LIRR sought to rid itself of the line. There was a proposal for the city-owned Independent Subway System to buy the line and incorporate it into the New York City Subway system. The deal was not successful, most likely due to the numerous grade crossings that would have been extremely costly to remove. The Interstate Commerce Commission allowed the LIRR to abandon the line in 1932.

Most of the branch was removed, except a small section of the line leading to the Corona Yard which remained well into the 1970s when the LIRR closed the Corona Yard and turned it over to the New York City Transit Authority for subway use. Today only a small section of track remains just east of Mets–Willets Point station, branching off from the Port Washington Branch east of the station. The Flushing–Main Street station of the Port Washington Branch was so named to distinguish it from the Whitestone's Flushing–Bridge Street station. Despite the closing of the Bridge Street station, the LIRR continues to use the name "Main Street" for the Port Washington Branch station to this day.

A spur of the line near the Flushing River was abandoned when it went under water in 1983. Private homes have been built over the section of the line in Whitestone Landing.[4]

Flushing Bay Freight SpurEdit

The Flushing Bay Freight Spur was a freight-only spur that lead to a freight dock on Flushing Bay just west of the Flushing River delta. It began at the Whitestone Branch just north of the junction with the Port Washington Branch, then crossed a junction with a spur of the Woodside Branch leading to Great Neck Junction and the Central Branch, and a second junction with Woodside Branch that lead to the Whitestone Branch,[5] and crossing a short bridge before finally terminating at the freight dock. No trace of the spur is known as of 2016.

StationsEdit

The entire line was abandoned on February 15, 1932.

Miles from Long Island City Station Date
opened
Date
closed
Connections / notes
Port Washington Branch diverges
Junction with Flushing Bay Freight Spur
Woodside Branch diverges
7.9[6] Flushing – Bridge Street 1870 1932 Named to distinguish it from Flushing – Main Street station
9.3[6] College Point 1868[7] 1932 The station depot was razed in September 1934 after local complaints of its deterioration.[7]
10.3[6] Malba 1909[8]:19 1932 Only station on the line built by LIRR
At the beginning of its operation, it was a flag stop[6]
11.0[6] Whitestone – 14th Avenue 1869 1932 Whitestone Trolley
11.7[6] Whitestone Landing 1886 1932 Originally Beechhurst Yacht Club Station

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "LIRR Branch Notes". trainsarefun.com.
  2. ^ Electric Trains to Whitestone October 22
  3. ^ "Whitestone Branch of LIRR". lirrhistory.com.
  4. ^ An Assessment of the Transit Service Potential of Inactive Railroad Rights-of-way and Yards Final Report. New York City Department of City Planning. October 1991. pp. 32–33.
  5. ^ Seyfried, Vincent F. "The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History, Part Two: The Flushing, North Shore & Central Railroad" (1961). "There were in addition two branches: the four mile spur to Whitestone and a shorter one of one and one quarter miles to Hempstead. The Flushing Creek area was the throat of the system with two main junction points: Whitestone Junction on the west side, where the Whitestone Branch began, and Central Junction on the east bank, where the Central trains turned off for Babylon. When the Woodside Branch opened in April 1874, four more miles of single track were added, plus an additional trestle bridge and connecting spur from Central Junction to the Flushing Bay dock."
  6. ^ a b c d e f "$_57-11". Flickr - Photo Sharing!.
  7. ^ a b "College Point Station Razed as 'Eyesore'" (PDF). The Press Service Page. September 21, 1934. p. 1. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  8. ^ The Long Island Railroad Twenty-Seventh Annual Report For The Year Ending December 31st, 1908. Long Island Railroad Company. 1909.

External linksEdit