Modeling Patchogue

Introduction: With the completion of the transcontinental railroad at Promontory Point, Utah in May 10, 1869 the nation experienced rail building like never before. So too in the east men had set sights to lay rails and gain a fortune.
Stretching 110 miles east of New York City to Greenport, Long Island is largely a post glacial flat flood plain devoid of any major obstacles, such as rivers or mountains, providing an ideal terrain for fast flat running of steam locomotives.
Planned and chartered in April 24, 1834, the Long Island Railroad commenced operations in 1836 to provide a route to Boston. Stretching 110 miles east of New York City, Long Island is largely a post glacial flat flood plain, devoid of any major obstacles, such as rivers or mountains. This geography provides an ideal terrain for fast flat running for the locomotives of the era.  The engineering technology had not yet been invented to breech the rocky shore, hills, and rivers of Southern New England at the time. 


Slowly, through financial crisis and lack of funding, the line finally in 1844 had reached its terminus at Greenport. The connection at Greenport, with steamboats, would take passengers across the Long Island Sound to Stonington, CT and a rail link to Boston by way of Providence, RI.  However, by 1850 a railroad was completed along Connecticut's south shore; thus opening an all rail route between New York and Boston. Subsequently, the Long Island Rail Road lost all its Boston passenger and freight business.
The LIRR grew slowly through national financial crisis and lack of funding so that it was finally in 1844 that it reached its terminus of Greenport. Alas, by 1850 a railroad was completed along Connecticut's south shore; thus opening an all rail route to Boston. Subsequently, Long Island Rail Road lost all its Boston passenger and freight business.
Having built the line in the sparsely populated central Long Island Pine Barrens there was little economic reason for the line’s existence.  And struggle it did, but eventually stations were built as folks traveled from the more populous north and south shore areas bringing goods and seeking faster westbound transport to New York City and its boroughs.
The South Side Railroad Company of Long Island in 1860 began plans to build a line directly to serve the south shore communities. By November 1867 it had reached Babylon and Patchogue, milepost 51, by 1869; the locale of our story.
Patchogue, named for a local Indian tribe, by virtue of its shell fishing, farming and summer tourist trade began to grow. By 1873 an engine house and turntable where located about 1/4 mile west of the rail terminus where a brick arch train shed, runaround track and paint shop resided just a short 5 minute walk north down Railroad Ave to the center of town. The railroad continuation eastward to Sag Harbor and Montauk Point, some 70 miles distant, had already been proposed. In 1874, the South Side Railroad ceased to exist as it was bought out by its competitors and by 1880 the LIRR came into being largely as it looks today.   Post Card Archive: Dave Morrison
The earliest customers generated enough traffic by 1888 to warrant a team track and a siding into Bailey's Mill, a large lumber company located just south of the main line.
With the dedication of the new railroad station in 1889 the virtual growth in population made possible by rail access, tourism during the summer months to the South Shore beaches, and a demand for building materials and products grew the railroad in this area over the next 30 years. By then the turntable had been moved into town, amidst protests, a 3 stall engine house erected, and no fewer than 15 plus industries had sprung up. These included: several coal supply companies, plumbing supplies, an electric plant, gas company, brewery, cold storage, pharmaceutical company, and a cement block company to mention the major customers.
PD Tower came into service 5/29/1912 located on the south side of the tracks at the east end of the Patchogue station platform. Constructed of wood, it is the eastern most interlocking tower on the LIRR system. Located on the south side of the tracks the two 2 story tall structure has a commanding view of the yard, main line and local industry trackage. PD Tower controlled an area of approximately 3 miles in length with over 16 sidings and upwards of 40 customers at its peak period (post WW I).   6/1975 Photo/Archive: Art Huneke
Just west of PD Tower were the REA baggage house, Passenger station, and freight house. A mere 100 yards further and the turntable, engine house, ash track, water column and yard tracks were all within sight and tower control. For many years, and even after the engine house was removed, Patchogue was a steam locomotive servicing facility and terminal for engines run on the Montauk branch.  For the rest of the century and onward into the 21st century (razed 2006) PD Tower stood vigil over the people and freight movements in and out of this busy switching and servicing locale.   Info: Steven Lynch

Aerial Lace Mill  c.1950 view NE
Photo: Jim Mooney

Patchogue view N Turntable, roundhouse , engine service track, Week's Coal yard c.1920 Archive: John Jett

Patchogue yard, Freight Station, and Bailey's Mill  Aerial view NE c.1920

PD Tower Baggage House c.1960 
Photo/Archive: Art Huneke


The local railroad industries/LIRR facilities obtained via insurance maps.
Time period is circa 1885-1915 (and what's remains today).

This area is approx 3/4 mile in length through Village of Patchogue
Bunk House
E. Bailey & Sons Lumber yard & Mill
1 siding for brick Coal bin
2 sidings for lumber loading
1 siding further east for shipping/receiving
Nelson Morris Co. Dressed Beef
Water Tank
Express Office
Passenger Station (south side of tracks)
PD Interlocking Tower
Pair of team tracks
Welz & Zerwick Brewery
South Bay Ice
Hiscox Chemical
Swezey Coal & Feed
Wood & Vernon Coal & Lumber
Red Rose Corp. Plumbing Supplies

T&S Building Supply Company
Sinclair Oils
Standard Oil Co.
Freight House
Week's Coal & Wood Yard
Section House
Engine Oil Facility
4 Stall Roundhouse
Hand Car Shed
Tool House
Electric Co.
Monsell Bros. Cement Block
Gas Company
Patchogue Lace Mill Coal Trestle and Shipping/Receiving sidings

Current Standing: 2022
Patchogue - Eastbound
Lead to Bailey Lumber is storage/maintenance shed and 2 sidings (Sperry
Rail test car seen here)
Bowling Alley razed, Federal Park Land was Bailey lumber
Passenger Station (south side of tracks)
PD Interlocking Tower razed August 22, 2006
South side siding: Welz & Zerwick Brewery/Hiscox Chemical - abandoned
Ice House (burned out late '80s) was part of South Bay Ice
Swezey Fuel Oil (no freight delivery) was Swezey Coal & Feed
Single track east to Montauk

National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) - The Sunrise Trail Division quarterly publication The Cannon Ball Fall 2012 - Patchogue Project Introduction

The Patchogue Project Winter 2012 Planning the LDE
The Patchogue Project Spring 2013 JJ Earl Interview: Patchogue Operations
The Patchogue Project Fall 2017 LDE Patchogue Design
The Patchogue Project Fall 2022 Modeling a Time Machine for Patchogue

Spring 2013 JJ Earl Interview: Patchogue Operations

Winter 2012 Planning the LDE

Fall 2017 LDE Patchogue Design

Fall 2022 Modeling a Time Machine for Patchogue


Track Plan at a glance
Name: Long Island Railroad, Montauk Branch, Patchogue, NY   Scale: HO   Theme: Local Freight Switching with Commuter Passenger Operations
Periods: Steam c.1925, Steam/Diesel Transition c. 1954, Diesel Era c.1964   Minimum turnout: no. 4   Minimum radius: 18”
Grade: 0% South Shore of Long Island, flat geological glacial moraine flood plain

Patchogue c.1925

Patchogue c.1948

Patchogue c.1962

Patchogue Proto-Freelance Design

Patchogue 1925 original shelf modular concept

I had originally envisioned the Patchogue Lace Mill as a selectively compressed back wall flat N-Z scale obscured by trees as a partial view block around the Patchogue River/PELCO and an area to stage the Mill coal hoppers and boxcars. 
 Patchogue Lace Mill backdrop Design: Steven Lynch

The signature industry Bailey's Mill can be modeled at the front edge looking through the windows/lumber shed.  The problem arises with Bailey being south of the LIRR yard and thus off a linear peninsula shelf layout.  I had originally thought you could build it as a partial building interior view, but it doesn’t identify it as Bailey’s via signs/look/ease of construction/and future front of layout damage and maintenance problems.  Additionally, the station, express house, baggage house and all the interesting south of the tracks industries display their back side; perhaps detracting from the operation visual spotting/loading/unloading at these locations.

Than I thought about it, further.  Most layouts designs are North facing, as my Oyster Bay endeavor and the Mineola series. As most folks are doing this naturally; so I thought about
Patchogue with a view south. I tuck the Mill in the lower right outside corner, and have the following:

PELCO, followed by the Patchogue River bridge, Bailey’s (perhaps flats) sidings, easy access to the yard, front view of water tank, express house, station, baggage house, PD tower, and all the industries south of the tracks: team tracks, ice plant, brewery, chemical company, and Swezey Coal.  This South view changes the entire perspective of view and design.  The yard, turntable, roundhouse, front of the freight house, and PD Tower are all center stage.

Make no mistake that there are secondary structure elements to include, such as: turntable, roundhouse, freight Station, water tank, etc., but these are vanilla components that do not immediately identify the location as Patchogue.


Modeling a specific era can be approached in a number of ways:

1. Proto: Adhere to the era track plan and accurately model the buildings required such as the turntable era c.1925.
b. Transition era(s) up to 1948-1963
c. The yard, water tank, sidings, station, etc. razed post 1963

2. Proto-Freelance:
a. Keep some buildings longer than usual then active/abandoned/razed
b. Assign new clients into these buildings
c. Leave turntable/roundhouse/coal yard in past the raze period
d. Thus, item above 2a can exist into 2b
e. Add what you like that has the flavor of Patchogue: clam/oyster wholesale processing plant, produce co-op, feed and grain industry, duck slaughter house/packing, GLF grain elevator, etc.

3. Freelance (almost), LIRR motive power/hacks, a few signature structures: PD tower, Lace Mill, and Bailey's Lumber (or Swezey Coal & Feed) and build the rest as you see fit as time, space and finances dictate. This would probably be a shelf layout with minimal track work more suited to item 1c above for more modern passenger/thru freight folks.

4. Proto and Proto-Freelance “time machine”: (I’m thinking this term may be of value in the future, like LDE…) Build the layout in a specific period and (proto 1a-b) use the removable/replacement building module concept to change the layout era by building swap. As it is a shelf design, fairly easy to manage.

Structures that reflect longevity, and therefore do not require major modification/removal, are easy with a small village like Patchogue. Houses, buildings, and industries tend to remain a long time; in many cases a century or more as in the case of the Lace Mill.

Here's a list of industries that require only a sign change. Week's Coal (c.1948 Snedecor Coal & Fuel), Patchogue Coal & Feed (c.1923 Swezey Coal), and South Bay Ice (Knickerbocker Ice).

To change eras one swaps signs and billboards, automobiles and trucks, and details (such as awnings, clothing styles, street lights, cross bucks/crossing gates, etc).  If scenery and most buildings are designed generic, time-plausibility can he achieved by changing out/in some buildings.  For example: Different shaped city water towers, electric transformer farm (LILCO replaced PELCO plant AND semaphore signals replaced by PRR signal position lights.

Here are several examples of scenes one can create that are Patchogue specific:
1. The building of the new bridge over the Patchogue River (1924?)
2. The first passenger train arrival from Penn Station
3. An operator "Hooping Orders" at PD Tower
4. Log/lumber delivery/unloading at Bailey's Mill
5. Team track unloading into horse/wagon (teams) and later trucks.

Aerial of the Yard Area c.1920's.

Freight Cars for Patchogue Industries c.1925

1. Four stall Roundhouse Razed: 1928  2. Oil House  3. Armstrong air turntable Razed: 1950  4. Henry Week's Coal and Wood Yard/Coal trestle Razed: 1952  5. Freight Station Razed: 5/15/1963
6. Section House/Carpenter's - Hand Car Shed/Yard Office  7. Water Tower, Railroad Ave. Razed: 1950  8. West Ave.  9. Bailey's 3 Story brick Planning Mill - Built after 1910  10. Bailey's Mill Complex
11. Bailey's Mill Brick/Lime/Lumber Shed  12. Patchogue River  13. Watchman Crossing Shanty  14. Division Street

The structure behind the turntable was identified on Emery's 5/1958 map as the "Hostler's Cabin" #11 for the obvious reason that there was a hostler there. I also mentioned that the guy in the late 1940s-early 1950s who was the hostler was an acquaintance of my father and his last name was Nudo related to the Nudo Brothers cesspool cleaning company.

As far as I know, he moved the locomotives and did minor repairs. Anything that he couldn't handle were sent to Morris Park Shops. I have some notes in my
PD Tower orders from 1947 where he notified his bosses that engine #_____ needed a _______ replaced and would be towed by the next train west to be dropped off at MPS.

He did not move cars around. That was not a hostler's job. That was a freight engineer's/freight conductor's job when he got to Patchogue.  Dave Keller

First, the extension east to the connection at Eastport was in the 1870's. Then, the extension from Bridgehampton to Montauk was in 1895. Trains were running out there through Patchogue all those years until 1912 when the tower was built and they didn't seem to have had any issues with their then-in-place system: Train orders and signals were handled in the ticket office of the Patchogue station. It was a rather substantial ticket office as I recall it as a kid, so there was plenty of room for two ticket clerks (there were 2 windows) AND a block operator seated at the bay window.

I believe that, had the Suffolk Traction Co. never built a line to the foot of the Patchogue dock, and crossed the LIRR tracks, there would never have been a tower built there. We have them to thank. They died in 1919 and the Tower lived on!  Dave Keller


The raze of the entire yard/coal yards, water columns, freight station, supervisor’s office /shop and old station occurred on May 23, 1963.

After this date one can model L420s, ALCO FA-1/2 HEP, GP38-2s, passenger ops (1964 World’s Fair, M1s, etc.), and pre/post MTA paint schemes. Of course Patchogue has an attractive linear design, waterfront, town close to tracks, river/woods, etc. for its continued modeling appeal.

Folks model what they know/see (in many cases) thus, the post 1963 era carries over to the current status: a razed PD Tower, change from PRR position light signals to the current 3 position color light, and modeling the reduced MOW storage yard, for example.

Further on this topic: There are several items of interest to model (in my opinion) in the more current era: the small foot print waterfront starting just south across the tracks and Division Ave., the LILCO utility transformer farm that replaced the PELCO facility, the old “Victorian” housing adjacent the tracks, the current “modern” MOW yard, and modeling a transition scene showing dual PRR signals/3 position lights under construction in front of battered PD tower (4/29/2006 for example). These are mini-scenes to detail that take the viewer in and thus remove the actual ho-hum of the trackwork.  2022 Steven Lynch