LIRR Baggage Cars & Baggage Handling


"REX” Train consisting of all REA and/or baggage cars. RS3 #1556, #1552  Montauk 5/05/1963 Archive: Dave Keller

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RS3 #1556 Biafra Food Train Ronkonkoma 1/11/1169. This Special train was bringing food collected all along its westbound trip and that is why the baggage cars are on the west end.
Note: Baggage cars with stripe and without stripe. Photo: Dave Keller

RS3 #1556 Biafra Food Train at Queens Village 1/11/1969

Express/baggage houses were at the far east end of the eastbound station platforms and at the far west end of the westbound station platforms so these cars, which were ALWAYS the head-end car on both eastbound and westbound trains back in the day when baggage and express were carried (pre-mid-1960s), could be spotted at their respective platforms and be unloaded.  If it was single track through the station facilities, there would be an express house at BOTH the far west end and the far east end of the low-level station platform to accommodate these cars.

In later years when the baggage cars only carried  newspapers, they were always on the head end EASTBOUND when they were in service. You would see them on the rear end of a westbound train ONLY when they were deadheading back west. Newspaper bundles were tossed or thrown as were the rolled individual papers.  

 Baggage Handling at Patchogue

1917  Belcher-Hyde Map inset Patchogue station area between Railroad Ave and Ocean Ave


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Patchogue Station view NW 1905

The larger structure west of the station stored items headed west via train and ALSO contained an REA office as well as a truck dock at the rear and sides to load and unload REA trucks.

Express consisted of shipped parcels.  Equate “express” with “UPS” of today and it makes it more understandable. The train delivered parcels to the town/city and were, in turn, delivered to private and commercial addresses via green REA trucks.  

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Old Autocar solid-rubber-wheeled Adams Express Co. trucks at the express house at Westhampton in 1915 Thomas R. Bayles photo, Dave Keller archive

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This view is from the express/baggage high-level platform.  The ramp is in the foreground down to the low-level, paved platform and the baggage wagon is clearly accessible!  


Remittance in cash was sent via express messenger.  Years back it could have been any number of successive express companies, such as Westcott's Long Island Express, Long Island Express Company, or Adams Express Companies.  There were others.  The cash would be placed in a heavy envelope, sealed, and large needle with heavy thread/twine shoved through the cash remittance to keep anyone along the way from sneaking one or two bills out of the batch without cutting the string, and sealing wax melted over the ends of the string and the envelope seal and embossed with the metal wax sealer of the specific station.

This procedure was explained by George G. Ayling, Agent/operator at CI (Central Islip, NY) who, back in 1909, started his LIRR career as an express messenger at Brentwood, NY.


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Express Wax Sealers

Baggage consisted of personal items checked by customers . . luggage, “steamer” chests, baskets, even bicycles to be taken off the train by said customer upon reaching one’s destination.  Many years back brass baggage tags would go on these items and were replaced in later years by hard card baggage tags, similar to what AMTRAK uses today.  When you got to your destination and the train was unloaded for your stop, you turned in your check at the agency and they would give you your corresponding luggage. 

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PD and Baggage House 1947 Items stored headed east via train. Photo: F. Weber, Archive: Dave Keller
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 "Going Fishing " c.1930s Montauk to Penn Station  
Photo: Rudolph-Hoffman

It's the end of a long and profitable day of fishing, as anglers bring their catches to the Railway Express Agency car laid up on the fishing dock just west of the Montauk railroad station, to put on ice for the trip home. 

The REA car didn't carry baggage or express on the fish trains.  They carried fish in makeshift compartments filled with ice for the trip home; as indicated by the  late retired conductor Jeff Skinner who was familiar with the procedure.  He started on the LIRR as a trainman in 1917.   (Dave Keller info) 

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 Station Baggage Wagon at Farmingdale
Archive: Dave Keller

This was the means of transport between facilities at the station: The old baggage wagon . . . Load ‘er up and pull yer guts out! I’m sure they hooked it to horse, car or truck and pulled it as close as they could get to the express/baggage house.

That’s why platforms had ramps . . . not for handicapped access, but for baggage car access.

Any items dropped off eastbound at the structure by PD tower for delivery from Patchogue would be manhandled over to the main express house for logging and loading on the ubiquitous green trucks . . . .the equivalent of the brown UPS trucks of today!  


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REA RPO #738 LI City Passenger Yard    05/14/1949 Archive: Dave Keller

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REA RPO #738 LI City Passenger Yard    05/14/1949 closeup Archive: Dave Keller

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REA RPO #737 Storage Yard Richmond Hill 08/03/1958 Archive: Dave Keller

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RPO Baggage Car #7737 Port Jefferson 09/1963 Archive: Dave Keller

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Baggage-Mail, LIRR BM-62 #7737   Photo taken 2012 after the car was freshly painted in PRR Tuscan Red with black roof.  Currently the car is being used as a storage space.  Long term plans are to open the car for partial viewing. Photo: Don Fisher Archive: RMLI

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FM CPA20-5 #2007 Delivery Newsday Mineola 1950 Archive: Dave Keller

This is the Greenport Train coming into Mineola station with the Newsday truck and papers at the left to be loaded on the baggage car.  


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C420 #206 east N. Ocean Ave 1961
Archive: Dave Keller 

Here’s a shot some years later, with the baggage car and Newsdays  headed out to Greenport on train #204.  


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Baggage Express Car  #7723 Class B-60B Built 1928  It is currently used  as a tool and storage car at the RMLI Riverhead restoration site. Photo: Don Fisher Archive: RMLI

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Baggage car #7715 on Montauk bound train #4 Baggage man preparing to dump newspapers on platform   07/1971 
Photo and archive: Dave Keller 
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Baggage car #7715 on Montauk bound train #4   Conductor walking up front to speak to engineer.  Newspapers ready to be dumped on platform are visible in door of baggage car 07/1971 (second car is a lightweight parlor) The LIRR and MTA are still in transition as is evidenced by the conductor still wearing his "letter-carrier" gray uniform.  Photo and archive: Dave Keller 

Baggage Mail cars

BM-60 717            1928
BM-60B 737-738   1928
BM-62 740-743      1911
BM-62A 747-749   1923

Baggage Express cars

B-60B 715-716, 718-724    1928
B-62 684-689, 739             1910-1911
B-54 619-621                     1911

Most were renumbered to the 7000 series, 
so 717 became 7717.   From:  Bob Andersen's LIRR History Site 


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C420 #226 at PD Patchogue 1971 
Archive: Dave Keller

It was also done on the Montauk runs.  Here’s the Newsday baggage car on train #4. Info: Dave Keller:


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PD Conductor Orders 1971
Archive: Dave Keller

They always threw a paper off for the block operator!! 

See the guy in the doorway at the rear of the baggage car  in the photo at the left?  He’s about to throw Ed Sorensen a Newsday. 

 The above shot shows the paper rolled up on the platform right after it was tossed off for him.  Info: Dave Keller

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RPO/REA car #7743 catching mailbag on the fly at Bayport, NY – August, 1958  (Art Huneke photo, Dave Keller archive)

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LIRR #7724 Patchogue 1974 by Grossman's Lumber Photo: Tim Darnell


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LIRR #7724 Montauk 1976

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B&O Wagon Top Boxcar with scrap LIRR baggage car Photo: Steve Rothaug 10-87

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B-60B baggage car Jamaica c.1964
Photo: Steve Hoskins

Information, research, and photos kindly provided by LIRR Historian Dave Keller except were noted.