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Sixty Years Ago On May 8, 1950, The Rockaways Line Is Created


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Sorry for the late post on this interesting subway anniversary.

 

On May 8, 1950, a major fire burned out 1,800 feet of L.I.R.R.'s wooden trestle across Jamaica Bay severing the Rockaway branches from the Queens mainland. After this date all L.I.R.R. to the Rockaways had to travel via Valley Stream.

 

Rather than rebuild the trestle, the L.I.R.R. sold it and the Rockaway Branches to the City of New York in 1952 after petitioning for abandonment of Rockaways service. Of course, the L.I.R.R. didn't completely abandon the Rockaways and to this day operates service to Far Rockaway.

 

The New York City Transit Authority rebuilt the trestle, but in concrete rather than wood and connected it to the IND subway just east of the Rockaway Boulevard station on Liberty Avenue.

 

In rebuilding the trestle, the TA created two new islands which span much of the crossing across Jamaica Bay. In addition to the concrete trestle, ties were buried, flush to their tops in sand and ballast.

 

Despite a strike by Westinghouse Electric Corporation which began on October 16, 1955, and which lasted 156 days, and a subsequequent estimate that the power equipment wouldn't be ready until October 1956, TA Chairman Mr. Charlie Paterson and his staff came up with a plan to meet the June 28th opening date that was set when work started.

 

One of these was to borrow some equipment from the I.R.T. Dyre Avenue Line and the Aqueduct substation was skeletonized. Arrangements were made to buy other power.

 

The plan worked and trains ran to Wavecrest (Beach 25th Street) and Rockaway Park-Beach 116th Street on June 28, 1956. Far Rockaway-Mott Avenue would open on January 16, 1958.

 

The cause of the fire on May 8, 1950 you may wonder? A passenger flicked their stll lighted cigarette out of the open window of their L.I.R.R. car. It landed on the trestle instead of the water.

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Well I did read that the Jamaica Bay Trestle was prone to fires, which happend frequently.

Yup, the ties during the LIRR got always dried up hence a varying degree of heat or cigarette fire could light them up. That's why, one of the first things the TA did when it acquired the line was to install new trackways fitted with new tracks.

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How did the LIRR via Rockaway Beach Branch get to the Rockaways without the man made islands that the A uses now via bridges? Was it a very long trestle that stretches out over water? Please explain?

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Soitenly. Back in 1892, the L.I.R.R. drove approximately 50,000 piles deep into Jamaica Bay and built its' trestle. The trestle was only a few feet above the water most of the way and the spaces between the ties formed an open lattice.

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Soitenly. Back in 1892, the L.I.R.R. drove approximately 50,000 piles deep into Jamaica Bay and built its' trestle. The trestle was only a few feet above the water most of the way and the spaces between the ties formed an open lattice.

 

...which often ignited, damaging the bridge.

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