LONG ISLAND CITY Page 1

YARD A

LI Rail Road Emery Maps 1959

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Float Lead Yard Emery Map 1
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Arch Street Transfer
Westbound Classification (8th Street) Yard   Emery Map 2

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Thomson St to Queens Blvd. 
Yard A Emery Map 3
"8th Street Hill" - Yard A

In 1910 the Pennsylvania Railroad had completed its terminal in New York City, which was connected by tunnels to New Jersey, and under the East River to Long Island. At Sunnyside the large yard of the Pennsylvania Railroad was constructed. An agreement was made with that Railroad and the Pennsylvania Tunnel and Terminal Railroad Company whereby the cars of the Long Island Railroad would be carried through the tunnels under the East River into the Terminal at Seventh Avenue and Thirty-second Street, New York. Thus, the Long Island Railroad acquired what successive administrations had striven for in vain, a terminal on Manhattan Island. In order to reach this terminal it was necessary to electrify from Jamaica to New York, which was accomplished in 1910, and the first train run into the Pennsylvania Station on September 10th of that year. Info: Felix E. Reifschneider's 1925 Long Island Rail Road History

The Queens, NY street renaming: 8th Street to 47th Ave c.1925 approximately 15 years after Yard A opening.

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ALCO S1 #418 S2 #452 at Montauk Cutoff -"8th Street Hill" location  LI City 10/04/76 (Goldstein-Keller)
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Mallon Co. view SW 3/29/77 View SW from Thomson Ave Bridge Archive: Joseph Anastasio  
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Yard A view W toward 21st St. overpass at "8th street Hill." Mallon Co. siding at right 1984 - LIRR 1909 MOW series #800-802 tank cars 10/12/84 
Photos: Rudy Schubert
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Yard A Hump - Eastbound Classification Yard    Emery Map 4
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Yard A Hump to 42nd Pl.  Emery Map 5
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42nd Pl. ot Woodside Ave.   Emery Map 6
Yard A Hump
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 Telltales - Yard A hump (center background) S2 #447 with Idler Car 3/28/1954 (Faxon-Keller)

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Yard A Hump - PRR GG1 Amtrak Era 1971+

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Yard A Hump - Amtrak GG1s 1971+

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1974 View E towards the Yard A hump and the PRR Engine Repair Facility with GG-1s in attendance Photo: Bob Bedden

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Yard A hump View W from 39th St. 1/30/74 
Photo/Archive: Richard Makse

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Yard A hump Tri-color signal - SW1001 #101 3/10/77 
Photo: Jeff Erlitz

Signal  green to shove over hump, yellow to stop, and red to
reverse.  Note: Info as to actual procedure needed. 

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Yard A -Tri-color signal on hump - SW1001 #101 3/10/77 
Photo: Jeff Erlitz

YARD A Photo Tour

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1.  LIRR Yard A Office  Note: 3rd rail (1910) which was taken out in 1951


2.  Both views east c.1934+

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Yard A view west American Steel Wool Co. behind 
Yard Office. 8/14/1981

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MOW car painting yard, view west, Yard Office rear 08/21/1977 
Archive: Dave Keller

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LIRR #156 with Float Reacher car view SW

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LIRR #458 with High and Wide Special Train, Yard Office view east 10/06/1967

 

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3. On right: PRR  Sunnyside yard Commissary


4. Yard A east -Boiler house and Honeywell Ave in background



8.  Sunnyside service Area
c. 1980  Photo: Bob Redden

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5. Honeywell Ave
view west into Yard A switchmen cabin and floodlight tower
3-29-46



8a. A line up of GG1s ready to go 1971 Photo: Bill Myers

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6. Honeywell Ave Overpass looking east toward  LIRR Hump lead


 

9.  Yard A - Ore Jennies tunnel rock blast loads to be delivered to Prima Rock, Holtsville  photo: 4-96
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7. Right:  PRR sand towers, washers and inspection pits
3-29-46



Looking  East-NE: Sunnyside passenger yard  upper left, freight team track platforms lower left, Montauk Cut-off tracks center view, and Executone Telephone Systems (ex-Sunshine Biscuits bakery 1956) upper center. Photo: Nick Kalis Collection

Montauk Branch Cut-Off   The Montauk Freight Cut-Off was opened in 1910. From the time of the leasing of the old South Side Railroad in 1876 by the Long Island Railroad, most of the traffic from the Island of Manhattan and Long Island City was carried in steam trains over the Montauk Division through Richmond Hill.

But in 1910, with the opening of the East River tunnels, practically all the passenger traffic from Manhattan was carried in electric trains over the Main Line. This made it impossible to route freight trains from the old North Side yards over the Main Line, as had been formerly done, as it would interfere with passenger train operation. Accordingly, this elevated freight connection, known as the Montauk Freight Cut-Off, was built from the North Side yards to a connection with the Montauk Division at Dutch Kills Creek, a distance of over two miles. 

Felix E. Reifschneider's 1925 Long Island Rail Road History

 

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Present day Montauk Cutoff view from the Citiwide Self-Storage Bldg, 9th Floor  Photo: Kevin Katta, November, 2007

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Harold Interlocking 10/02/2014

LI City Station Area - Hunters Point Yard

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LIRR terminal building and former general offices- street-side view looking north at 54th Ave. along Front St. (2nd St.) towards Borden Ave. which is between the terminal building and the PRR powerhouse. The loop track is visible in the foreground - Long Island City, NY - 11/03/30 (Percy Loomis Sperr photo, Dave Keller archive)
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Overall NW view of the LI City  terminal building with PRR Railroad  passenger cars in the yard just 2 years prior to demolition. 10/25/1936 (Percy Loomis Sperr photo/Dave Keller archive)
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LI City View W from the Pulaski Bridge 1989

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Hunters Point Station  View W from the Pulaski Bridge 12/19/2017 Photo: Angel Benitz
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Hunters Point LI City map 1872 Archive: New York Public Library

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Hunters Point LI City map 1891 


LI City Station view W c.1905 photo colorized postcard. Before 1910, there were no East River tunnels to Manhattan. LIRR commuters had to take a train to Long Island City and board a ferry for a half hour ride to 34th St. or James St.

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Hunters Point LI City map zoom 1903 
Archive: New York Public Library Note: 34th St. and James St. Ferry slips as indicated at left/above.

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Hunters Point LI City map zoom 1919 
Archive: New York Public Library

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Emery map - LI City East River to Vernon Ave. 9/1958
Archive: Dave Keller

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Satellite view of this area

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LI City Aerial View 2011

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R. F. Drahlman Steel at left LIRR #601 1970's Railfan Special

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C420 #227, GP38 #259, C420 #228, GP38 #267 and trains in passenger yard- L. I. City, NY - 2/9/78 Wm. Madden photo, Dave Keller archive

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LIRR #228 01-31-79

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It's the twilight years for the old, venerable, Long Island City terminal building as we view the structure looking towards the NW in this June 24, 1932 image.

Originally opened in July, 1891 to replace an earlier structure that had been built and enlarged numerous times over a 30-year period, this building was a bustling place for many years.  Besides ticket windows and passenger waiting rooms, the building also housed the LIRR's general offices, the dispatcher's office indicated as "X" on train orders and a large trainmen's room where train crews could lay over between runs.  This was THE major western-most terminal on Long Island in the early years with a massive passenger and express yard and interlocking Tower A, a 4-story structure that contained 167 levers to operate signals and switches. 

lirrferrypass.jpg (29930 bytes)Passengers would take the LIRR to this location then cross the street and take a steam ferryboat across the East River into Manhattan.  This was the standard inconvenient operating procedure for many years. Then, on December 18, 1902, a fire devastated the terminal building and all of the railroad's employee records and other important documents were lost forever. It was rebuilt and reopened on April 26, 1903.  An addition to the south side of this building housed the Adams Express Company's offices but these had been removed at the time of the above image.  In the above image, the south wall shows the location of the covered alleyway that was between the terminal and the Adams Express Company buildings.  

Business began to drop off upon the opening of Penn Station and the East River Tunnels in September of 1910.  Passengers no longer needed to take a ferry to access Manhattan, but could get to their destination without the inconvenient change at Long Island City.  As a result, the importance of Long Island City as a terminal began to wane. Another blow to the terminal was the opening of the new Jamaica station and LIRR general offices in 1913.  Both the general offices and the dispatcher's office moved from the Long Island City terminal and were relocated in the new Jamaica structure. Despite these blows, the building remained in use for another 25 years. 

The structure is already showing its age in the above image.  The wooden canopy overhang that ran the entire length of the building on the track side to keep inclement weather away from the passengers is in a dilapidated state and is showing disrepair.  Some of the upstairs windows appear to be broken, giving one the impression that the upstairs portion was already abandoned, either completely or in part.  At the far right are two Pullman parlor cars and in the background is the PRR's electric power plant. 

But the inevitable is on the horizon.  The once-busy structure would be razed six years later during the construction of the Queens-Midtown tunnel.  (Percy Loomis Sperr photo / Dave Keller archive and data)  

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LI City PRR Power House 10/31/1925 
view east from 2nd Ave

Built in 1905, as part of an enormous expansion and electrification project of the Long Island Railroad and Pennsylvania Railroad, which culminated with the completion of New York Citys Penn Station in 1910. 

First planned as two separate power stations in Jamaica, Queens and West Side Manhattan, the project was relocated to Long Island City, as this location was central to Manhattan and Brooklyn. This original power station used steam turbines, powered by burning coal, to boil water for steam. By the time Penn Station was opened, it was providing 32,500 kW of energy to tunnels into the station.

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LIRR #261  LI City

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LIRR #263  LI City

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LI City 9/21/04 
Archive: Chris & Amy Cate

 

LI City - Borden Ave

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1. LI City Borden Ave view W 1955 Photo: Art Huneke

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2. SW1001 #100 Derailment at "newer" 
Yardmaster's Office view W 08/15/1977 (Keller)

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3. LI City Westbound to LI City Passenger Yard view NE
1970 or later, as the car behind the locomotive is one of the two former Erie-Lackawanna Phoebe Snow tavern lounge observation cars
Info:  Jack Deasy

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3. FM H16-44 #1504 westbound train Borden Ave view NE 
9/1963 Photo: Art Huneke 

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Emery map of Vernon Av. to Dutch Kills Creek 09/1958 showing the location of the
water tower view 
(arrow #1), derailment view (arrow #2), and C420 westbound passenger trains (arrow #3) which are posted to the left of this map.  Emery Map Archive:  Dave Keller

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LIRR GP38-2 #258 at Flag Water Proofing & Restoration 11th St. Switchman's Cabin  view W 3/1994

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FL9 #300 eastbound in LI City crossing 11th St. to duck under the Pulaski Bridge approach ramp.  View N 11/1992 Archive: Dave Keller
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Hunters Point 53rd Ave at 11th St. -  Queens Midtown Tunnel 
 LI Expressway tolls  View N 7/15/2003 Photo: Bernard Ente

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LIRR #405 S1 switching PRR coach past water tank 
LI City 1954 Archive: Dave Keller


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Water Tank - LI City Borden Ave 1954 
Archive: Dave Keller

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LIRR #407 S1 switching PRR coaches LI City 
1954 Archive: Dave Keller

The water tank is Emery map location #5; above. This was the Pullman Storage Yard 1939-1955 leading into Wheelspur Yard just to the east and the photos from 1954 were prior to the removal of this storage area and water tank.

LI City Station Area - Hunters Point Ave Wash Rack 

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Hunters Point Ave Station -  Car Wash  Rack 1969
Archive: Dave Keller
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FA2  #610 at Hunters Point Ave. wash rack  8/10/83 
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Hunters Point Ave. wash rack  9/29/87 below 4/25/88 
Photos: Edward Hand

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LI City Station Area - Hunters Point Ave Station


LIRR GP38-2 #252 Hunter's Point Station view W 10/14/1982
The East River tunnels lines 1 and 3 are in the foreground .  The tarp covers the salt mound for the NYC Sanitation Department at Arch Street Yard. Rock salt would be delivered by hoppers to Arch Street for pickup by DSNY (Dep't of Sanitation, NY) at least until the early 1990's. The Flushing Line, white livery World's Fair R36s, (note the clean white cars compared to Bronx IRT lines), are evident. The Plaxall Building, at upper right, is in early stages of being stripped and converted into the new Hunter's Point Plaza office building (completed in late 1986). 
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LIRR #228 pulling in to Hunters Point Station from LI City yard for the evening rush. c. 1976   Photo: A. J. Daly

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LIRR #228 Hunters Point Station arriving from LI City yard for the evening rush. c. 1976   Photo: A. J. Daly

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Hunters Point Station View W 4/25/1988 Photo: Edward Hand
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LIRR #228 Hunters Point Station departing eastbound. c. 1976   Photo: A. J. Daly

Dutch Kills - Texas Oil, Kearny

Texas Oil: 2 track siding, PRR, Office of Chief Eng. 05/20/1946
Texas Oil: 1 track siding Emery map, 11/14/1960
Texaco: 1 track siding 3 car capacity 06/1966, LIRR map
Texaco: gone 1978, Degnon Terminal map

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 Dutch Kills Creek Area, c.1946 


Texas Oil Co. refinery located at Review Ave and 
29th St. just east of Dutch Kills Creek


Texas Oil Co. c.1952


Texas Oil Co. c.1952

Texas Oil Co. View SW toward Greenpoint tanks. 


Texas Oil Co. at Review Ave. c.1952

Wheelspur Yard
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West end of Wheelspur Yard  7/25/2015

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NYA LI City freight station - Wheelspur Yard_ 7/30/17
Photo: Kevin Wong

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Wheelspur Yard -1904
Collection: Art Huneke 

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Wheelspur Yard blueprint  c.1910 
Collection: Art Huneke 

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LI City Coal Tower 07/07/1919
Collection: Dave Morrison


LI City detail of Hunter's Point and Newton Creek area. Circa 1946-1954  as the Pulaski Bridge is under construction on this map.

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Coaling Tower LI City early 1900's
 view W

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Coaling Tower LI City early 1921
 view W

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Wheelspur Yard - c.1948
Collection: Dave KellerLooking NE towards M cabin and drawbridge. (Cabin at right background, Dutch Kills at far right, not visible in this shot.) 

Two Pennsy H9s locomotives laying up (there were usually a total of 3, one is behind the engine at the right and not visible) to supply the yard with steam heat. Headlights have been removed. In the center of the view are the coaling gondola and derrick to feed the tenders. 

In 1950 the H9s were replaced by three Pennsy L1s (2-8-2) locomotives, so this shot precedes 1950. The yard was torn up in 1959. Info: Dave Keller

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Montauk cutoff drawbridge at M cabin, looking west. Photo:  Art Huneke 1955

As a point of reference, the photographer of this Wheelspur photo (left) would have been standing approximately in front of the first or second string of passenger cars above. Info: Dave Keller

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Coaling Tower LI City early 1900's
 view E

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Coaling Tower LI City early 1900's
 view SW

      Phelps-Dodge Copper Refining and Chemical Production Plant 1920-1983


Phelps-Dodge 06/06/1951 Aerial view Archive: Phil Goldstein

The Laurel Hill copper refinery was built in 1905 by the Nichols Refining Company for electrolytic refining of  'blister' copper.  Most of the copper was done for Phelps-Dodge Company, and came from it's smelters in Arizona.  In 1928, Nichols built another refinery near El Paso, Texas.  In 1930 Phelps-Dodge acquired both refineries.  After P-D acquisition, the Laurel Hill refinery processed scrap copper from the eastern US, and blister copper from the southwest, and possibly some from South America.  P-D closed the Laurel Hill facility in 1984.

An electrolytic copper refinery would take 'blister' copper (95-99% pure copper), and by an electro-chemical process produce 99.99% pure copper (electrical grade) cathodes.  The waste 'sludge' from this process would be mostly gold, silver and/or other precious metals. This would be treated at a precious metal refinery, often on-site at the copper refinery.
The end products at Laurel Hill would have included copper cathodes (sheets), and copper 'wirebar' (a 265-pound bar that would be melted and drawn into wire).

A photo taken in the 1950 or 60's shows standard gauge 40' boxcars with cast copper anodes being unloaded, and the anodes being placed on narrow gauge 8 wheel flatcars, appx 30 anodes on the narrow gauge rack type car. Since each anode weighs appx. 600-750 pounds,  I'd assume some type of mechanical motive power was in use.

Plymouth Locomotive Works ( a 'critter' locomotive builder in Ohio) did build at least three 21" gauge locomotives for P-D at Laurel Hill:

All were Plymouth model "RGT" with Hercules gas engines.   a 5-ton in 1959,  a 6-1/2 ton in 1959, and  a 6-1/2 ton in 1960.
I've never seen pictures of these, they probably were built open, without traditional cabs.  These would be about the size of a tractor.  There may well have been additional locomotives.

Both responses indicate use of rubber tired tractors to move the in-plant cars.  This is very probable too, as most(if not all) of the narrow gauge track would have been imbedded in pavement, or the floors of the buildings.

This style of narrow-gauge tramway was very common in older industrial plants and in other copper refineries.  Anaconda's refinery in New Jersey had 30"gauge, US Metals in New Jersey had 24"gauge, the ASARCO refinery in Baltimore had a 21.5"gauge Outside Flange tramway.  The current P-D refinery near El Paso still has 30"gauge in use.  By the 1960's plants were being built without the trams, using overhead cranes, trucks and large forklifts to do the job.

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Laurel Hill Chemical Works 1881 
G.H. Nichols Proprietors later Nichols Copper Co. prior to Phelps Dodge 1930s

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View NE  Laurel Hill Works at full build-out, circa 1933 (courtesy Allied Signal Archives)
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"Dead Man's Curve", so named because of the many workers who were killed by oncoming trains while crossing the tracks to and from work at the "Laurel Hill Works"

View west of  46th St./ Clifton Avenue crossing, site of the old Laurel Hill station. Clifton Ave crossing closed 1918 

Employees crossing the tracks to get to work got hit by westbounds not making the station stop or, after the station was discontinued, not preparing to make ANY stop!

Nichols Copper Co. started out making sulfuric acid from the sulfur in copper ore. The acid-making side of the business later became Allied Chemical, now merged into Allied-Signal.
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Phelps-Dodge Emery map MP2 10/1958
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Laurel Hill - Bliss LIRR Maps 1966 Phelps- Dodge location
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1995 US topographic map

Phelps-Dodge cars were stored in Bliss yard where the afternoon Bliss job would bring new cars in from Yard A and make up the afternoon train, following the drill order, for the Laurel Hill job. 

"...Bliss was used by LIRR freight and had an engine terminal so that steam engines did not have to run reverse all the way to Morris Park. This was also gone by 1957. In my time, Bliss yard was used to store cars for Phelps Dodge, Van Iderstine and other customers between Greenpoint Ave and PD. Also cars for Murers sidings were stored here. Crews reported at Yard A and brought cars to Bliss before making up their trains for their respectful switching areas.
The afternoon Bliss job made up the train for the crew that switched Phelps Dodge..." JJ Earl

Laurel Hill job went to work at Yard A and usually went right to Laurel Hill siding to gather all westbounds ordered out from Phelps Dodge and several other sidings in the area. These westbounds were taken to Yard A and the crew would return to Bliss, put the engine in the west end of its train in the yard. The conductor rode on the rear (lead) car, using a back-up hose so that he had control of the air brake. 

The move was made with hand signals. In the dark these were made using an electric lantern. 
When all was ready, the crew shoved the train the mile to Laurel Hill switch and the first customer was Phelps Dodge. 

Phelps Dodge had four tracks, all on a downgrade toward Newtown Creek and great care had to be taken that these heavy copper cars did not get away while shoving in. The usual drill called for about fifteen to twenty cars in and the same number out every night. Author: JJ Earl

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Phelps-Dodge closed
Collection: Art Huneke

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Phelps-Dodge  2000
Photo: Bernie Ente

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Phelps-Dodge Nichols Siding 1974
View west  Photo: Richard F. Makse

Location: The private grade crossing into the Phelps Dodge copper refinery. Nichols Siding, named after the Nichols Copper Co In the 50's and 60's. 

The lead to Phelps-Dodge is the track to the left of the train. This landmark industrial site on Newtown Creek, was long the LIRR's best freight customer and was so important as to justify its own freight clerk and station designation ("Laurel Hill"), a job that worked in one of the myriad ancient brick buildings of the complex until the early 60's. Phelps-Dodge, a company with ancient roots in NYC and a supply link to copper mines off the SP and the Tucson, Cornelia and Gila Bend in far away Arizona, signaled to the world why the ancient and fragrant colonial waterway of Newtown Creek represented the greatness of New York at the inland port of Maspeth.  Info: Richard F. Makse

LI City LIRR Manhole Cover LI City to Jamaica Map 1952
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Click on map to enlarge
Manhole cover near the old power plant 2nd St. and 50th Ave. LI City 11/27/15 
Photo: Joseph Anastasio
LI City Page 1