First Recollections of the LIRR: Anecdotes by Fans

Dave Keller - 1952 Patchogue 8 or 9 months old

I have a photo in my archive of me at age 8 or 9 months (in 1952) crawling (yes . .. crawling) in the parking lot behind the Patchogue depot. In the photo are the depot and the REA Express house. Hey . . .  I started really young.

Railfan-Dave-Keller-Patchogue-Station-1952.jpg (49366 bytes) I don't remember that photo being taken, however I vividly remember going to the station in the 1950s with my mother to pick up my father on occasion when she needed the car the evening before. He commuted from Patchogue and worked the 3rd shift at Piel Bros. in Brooklyn.. As a result, he got in around 8:30 am.

I could recount in great detail descriptions of the depot, inside and out, including the stained glass windows bordering the doors and windows!

Specifically, I recall three occurrences around 1957, all at Patchogue:

1. Looking in the window of the first-floor trainmen's room in the depot and seeing an accumulation of kerosene lanterns sitting on the table.

2. Being given a retiring LIRR conductor's blue serge wool cap and vest with which I played endlessly as a kid.

3. My father handing me up to the engineer of the BUDD car on the "Scoot", in which I rode to Babylon while my father chased the train with the car. He met me at Babylon (station at grade at the time) and drove me home. Along the route I got to look out the front window and pull the horn cord.

The hook was firmly planted in the mouth after those events . . . There would be no throwing it . . . . ;-)

Rich Glueck -  Mineola  C-Liners 1950-51+, Steam gone 10/1955

I was born at Nassau Hospital, July 07, 1950, facing the tracks (of course)! My earliest memory of the LIRR was my brother taking me down to the crossing west of Mineola, where he would buy a 5 cent package of Hostess Chocolate cupcakes, and we would sit inside the concrete sewer pipes that were stacked up, and watch passing trains, many of them steam powered. I also remember standing on the platform at Mineola with my parents and siblings, and watching a "new" FM C-Liner blast through the station with some fast train, and having my parents yank me back from the platform edge. I have about three strong recollections of LIRR steam in its dying days, and then several of my brother taking me to Oyster Bay to fish flounder, and coming home on the train. I remember a very kind, wonderful conductor named Dan Harrington, to took all kinds of time to talk to two young boys on that trip. I remember Mr. Harrington giving me a huge rubber banded roll of old ticket stubs of many different colors. I kept them for years, only parting with them when I got to be a stupid teenager, in the 60's.

Pat Scopelliti - Brooklyn c.1958 10 years old

You guys are making me feel old!

I remember riding from Hempstead out to Brooklyn as a kid (late 1950s) and always wanting to be at the tunnel entrance on Atlantic Avenue(?) to watch trains flying into and out of that tunnel portal.

Later on in High School I rode the Hempstead to Penn trains from 1963 to 1966 (we moved from Brooklyn to Hempstead on Nov 22, 1963, to Lincoln Road - cue Twilight Zone music). I remember the C-Liners, the old FM baby trainmasters and the new Century units in that wonderful World's Fair scheme. 

I remember the Christmas nativity scene setup at Hall Tower, especially on a snowy evening with the flames from the turnout points softly glowing. Can't see that anymore... and that's good? I also remember the Christmas decoration contests between all the stations. Can't do that stuff anymore either I imagine.

A friend and I used go train spotting on our bicycles... usually Mineola was a favorite spot - even got a tour of Nassau Tower one day. We hit Oyster Bay one day (see Steve Lynch's website for some photos from there), but that was a long ride (15 miles each way?)

Never rode behind a diesel until much after - but did get to ride in the old MP-54s and the new World's Fair zip cars (loved those cars...) Spent five plus hours sitting in a double decker in November 1965 (northeast blackout). I remember standing on the platform watching the 5:35 come in for loading and the lights flickering then mostly darkness.

On the downside I remember sitting in some MP54s at 7:00 AM that had sat at Hempstead all night in sub-zero weather, had no heat, and seeing frost on the INSIDE of the windows! Of course that was made up for by the occasional ride from Penn home in the window seat of an MP54 with the heat at nuclear furnace intensity and a guy smoking a stogie sitting next to me (who says you can't find a good five cent cigar? ). Wanted to burn my clothes when I got home.

So the hook got set early and often.

Heck, to this day I can rattle off Rockville Center, Baldwin, Freeport, Merrick, Bellmore, Wantagh, Seaford, Massapequa, Massapequa Park, Amityville, Copiague, Lindenhurst and Babylon - and I NEVER rode that line! Just heard it every night at Penn over the PA system!

Bob Anderson - Port Jefferson Feb 1956 19 months old

Brings back lots of memories. I went to sacred heart school in Bayside, and we helped decorate bayside station in the early sixties. I remember another tradition was Christmas carolers at Bayside station every year. It was like a scene out of "Its a wonderful life" man I miss those days.

My Father worked in New Hyde Park, I used to visit him once in awhile for lunch, and we use to get sandwiches and sit by the Crossing at New Hyde Park Road and watch trains go by. We also had a Studebaker!

Electrification was only up to East Williston at the time, so we saw a lot of diesels, and the Bud cars too. I will be 53 in April, and have lots of fond memories of the RR, both before I worked there, and during my time there. I guess it was my dream job, and am very thankful to have worked there. Only thing that could have topped working for the RR for me would have been playing for the Mets. (although my Brother was an NYC cop, and I was envious of him getting to carry a gun)

We had a summer place in Port Jeff in the 50's, at that time port Jeff was mostly a summer town. I remember the farewell to steam train coming into Port Jeff, and I was only 19 months old, but it scared me so much (I thought it was a dragon, with the smoke and fire belching out of it) it left an imprint. I wondered if my memory was that good, so I recently asked my father if we were there that day, and he laughed and said: "Yes, we were, and the train scared the hell out of you, you thought it was a dragon!" 

Ray Jensen - Bellaire 

Earliest recollections were taking the train from Bellaire to Brooklyn to visit my aunts. The cars back in those days were painted tuscan red (I am old or what). Also going to visit an aunt who lived Mineola on 5th St (aver)? right by the tracks. I would walk up to the station and watch those G5s come roaring through as well as the early diesels. 

Spent a lot of my youth on the platform of the Queens Village station as well as in the freight yard. I received my first ride on H10 111 from QV to Floral Park. Normally he would be in the center tracks but for some reason came down the local and stopped I guess waiting for clearance from QV tower to allow an eastbound train by. I got off at Floral Park before he was switched over to the main line. 

Also spent a lot of time at QV tower at the invite of Ethel, Pappy you remember her. 

My first job when I was a kid was picking up newspapers at the QV station to deliver to the candy stores on Hempstead Turnpike.

I also use to spend a lot of time in the bathroom at home on 99th Ave, as the window faced the main line and I could sit on the throne and just watch trains. Did my family think I was strange? Take a guess. What memories.

Ocala Mike - 1955 Jamaica Station

Anyway, as one of the two elder statesmen in the poll so far, I actually got kind of a late start with the LIRR. Growing up in Corona up until the age of 13, I knew about the PW electric line, and thought the LIRR was actually kind of boring until we moved to Jamaica in the summer of 1955, and I discovered Jamaica Station. Hung out a lot there in the mid to late 50's (hanging out then = railfanning today), and I remember the end of steam in October, 1955. Also used to bike out to Floral Park station which I thought was an excellent place to see lots of action, including a manned and very busy grade crossing.

In 1959, we moved to 180-01 93rd Avenue, literally a stone's throw from the LIRR main line and directly opposite the Holban yard. Got used to the symphony of freight cars being shoved onto classification tracks for most of the early 60's.

alcoC420 - Summer 1960

I am not sure which is my earliest recollection with the LIRR. Both are from the Summer of 1960 when I was four, my neighbor "Pop" taking his grandson and me for a walk down the Kings Park State Hospital Spur, or my brother taking me for a walk to the train station. I remember seeing a locomotive at the station which I now realize was a Fairbanks-Morse H16.

On a different day a friend who was four years older than I warned me to stay away from the edge of the platform because you would get sucked under a train as it sped by. Although getting sucked under may be an exaggeration, staying away from the edge was good advice.

In 1960 or 61 I remember seeing kids about 10 years old hopping onto the back of the train as it left the station eastbound. Anyone else ever see or hear of this?

I recall seeing cab units on a regular basis, and not realizing until probably 1968 or so that I hadn't seen any in years. Unfortunately, I remember too clearly a wild cousin throwing corn cobs at a WB C-liner behind the Kings Park Fire Department in 1962 or 63

Bob Andersen - Sunrise Hwy 1950's

I'm 58. My first recollections of the LIRR are when we drove along Sunrise Highway in the 1950's.

I didn't actually start using the LIRR until High School in 1964 - when I starting commuting from Jamaica to Baldwin on weekends to work at a gas station in Baldwin.

I became a regular commuter in 1970 when I started "real" work in Manhattan, and I've been a commuter ever since. 

Ernie Murphy - 1964 World's Fair

I’m 49. My dad was working for the LIRR when I was born, so I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t around the railroad somewhere. Dad worked in the power end of the business, reporting to and summoned by the “PD” (Power Director) out or Jamaica. We always had to be careful when answering the phone in case it was the PD calling dad for OT (which was essentially mandatory) so we didn’t let it slip he was home when he was on his way to bed.

I remember visiting quite a few sub stations when they used the rotary converters which were huge motors turning generators to convert LILCO power to their (I believe) 600VDC. These stations were large impressive brick structures with a built in overhead crane to move the gen sets; I believe they were manned 24/7. 

By the days my dad retired (around 1980?) they already were replacing/rebuilding these stations with the “modern” ones you see today with rectifying diodes in small trailer-type buildings; I’ve been in the one on the north side of Hicksville. I don’t know what’s inside the ones on the main line put down for the electrification of the Ronkonkoma branch.

Anyway, I spent quite a few nights playing behind the sub station just west of the Laurelton station in the Y where the track meet, or so I believe, I never knew where dad drove us, but I remember two double tracks merging, lots of traffic, so this place meets the memory. My uncle Bill worked there, not a real uncle but good friend of my dads, so while they talked I would play out back, watching trains, flattening pennies on the track, or throwing ballast rocks into bottles on the embankment.

Another thrilling sub station was the one by Shea station… 1964 and 65. Dad had what seemed to be every key on every lock on the whole railroad (many were legit I’m sure but….). Anyway, weekends he’d pile the whole family into the car, drive to the sub station, unlock the gate & let us in, park, lock the gate. Anyone know what was directly across the tracks from there? Yep, the LIRR exhibit of the World’s Fair, which curiously had a gap about 2 feet wide between one building and the restrooms, so we could walk into the fair for free. It seems we went there at least once a month

Al Castelli  - Bethpage 1964 2 years old

I'm 44 but will be 45 in a couple of months (hopefully that's the halfway point). I also was born in Nassau Hospital. Must be something with that place, that makes 2 of us mentioned here. I grew up in Bethpage 3 houses from the main line right near the Grumman Plant 1 siding. This is also where the Stewart Ave crossing is. So I've always seen & heard trains.

When I first saw a photo of a C-Liner in Steel Rails, it looked kind of familiar. Since they were gone in 1964 when I was 2, I might have remembered them from that age. But all I knew growing up were the Alcos. I'd sit at the corner & watch the passenger trains come in & out of the station. And watch the freights too, especially when they were switching cars for Grumman. We'd put pennies on the track too, but never did anything worse than that. One of the best things was standing in the metal shelter that was there (along an asphalt sidewalk from Railroad Ave over to the crossing) when a train came flying thru! The sound & rush of air were great.

Then there was the change to the MTA era. I remember when the first power packs came long, I thought it was strange that the trains had "back engines." Who knew.

One thing I never did was take pictures, probably because I was too young & also who would have thought to take pictures of trains. I mean endless orange & gray cars & locos & that black Alco smoke. And I never thought to ask my father to take any.

Oh, one odd thing I remember which made me think I was nuts at the time. At night with the windows open, you got to recognize the sound of a train as either freight or passenger & also the type of engine by its horn. Once in a while in the 70s, I could have sworn I heard an odd train & caught a glimpse out my bedroom window. It was an electric train! What I would later learn was an M1. But we didn't have third rail. Never could figure that out. (until about 20 years ago that is, & found out what it really was) 

Al Castelli  - Huntington mid 1970's 

Yeah, there were a lot of cool engineers when I was a kid. I can only remember two names, Charlie Reed and Bob Harvey, but there were a few others. Bob worked the Pt Jeff branch, and lived in St. James. He would let me ride too and from Huntington on many occasions. He had started working LIRR at the last of the steam days.

Charlie Reed was a piece of work. He would usually give me a cab ride from the station over to the wye at KO when he arrived from Greenport. Very rarely, he would allow me to enter his domain east of KO for a cab ride to Greenport and back. Always one with a rude comment about LIRR brass, he knew when to play the rules. If he was having trouble with an engine, he would turn the sanders on when he departed KO and leave them on for the whole round trip, including the layover at GP! This way, the unit would need to be sent to Morris Park and another unit sent out in it's place. It was on those trips (about once a week during the summer) that I also met Mr. Emery himself and there was a third member of the crew who's name escapes me now but was way up there on the roster as well. Normal compliment for the Greenport train back then (middle 1970s) was an RS1, or RS3 with one coach and later either the BAR or PNC geeps. One of the last time I saw them, they had a new MP-15. I couldn't tell you what year Charlie retired or even if he is still with us. If anyone has his address I would love to have it, but he would most likely be around 90 years old by now.

A sixteen year old, me, at Greenport 1975  greenport1975alcastelli.jpg (60261 bytes)

Oh, one odd thing I remember which made me think I was nuts at the time. At night with the windows open, you got to recognize the sound of a train as either freight or passenger & also the type of engine by its horn. Once in a while in the 70s, I could have sworn I heard an odd train & caught a glimpse out my bedroom window. It was an electric train! What I would later learn was an M1. But we didn't have third rail. Never could figure that out. (until about 20 years ago that is, & found out what it really was)

whitepot46 - Forest Hills c.1950

My father and uncle used to walk me up to the pedestrian bridge over the main line connecting 67th Ave, and Thorton Pl in Forest Hills to watch the trains. On Saturdays my father drove us out to Morris Park where he parked along Atlantic Ave. so that I could stare at the steam locomotives on lay-up over the weekend. With my mother I used to board the train (Tuscan red coaches) at Forest Hills to go to Union Hall St. to see where my father worked and visit Santa Claus at Gertz Department Store. 

One November night in 1950 my father, who used to drive between our home in Forest Hills and his job in Jamaica, was very late getting home for dinner. He told us that he had been delayed because there was a terrible train wreck near Metropolitan Avenue. I was a passenger on the last revenue train between Penn Station and Ozone Park on June 8, 1962. A couple of pals and I had tickets to Parkside where we used to meet the one evening train coming in on summer afternoons. But we stayed aboard to the end of the line.

Ed Case - Amagansett 1947

I'm going to be 68 next month. I was brought up in Smithtown but my dad was from Amagansett. I had an Uncle by the name of Ves Doxsey who spent 60yrs working on the LIRR. I think he was one of the engineers who had his name on his Locomotive. There's a picture of him in " Steel rails to the Sunrise" at the cab window of K-4 #1984 (if I remember the # right) Just the mention of his name was good for a cab ride. I vaguely remember a ride in the cab of a Steam Loco from Amagansett to Montauk when I was about 8 yrs old...sat in the engineers lap, pulled the throttle and blew the whistle! I finished high school at The Stony Brook School right across 25A from the Stony Brook Station (SUNY at Stony Brook was still a potato field) Several times I hitched a cab ride back to Smithtown. Joined the Marine Corps in 1960 & my parents moved to VA while I was in. Married a Rebel & can't transplant her!....Besides the woods were plowed down for housing developments and the fields I hunted pheasants in were turned into shopping centers but I've got some good memories of LI. Have just gotten back into the hobby this past year & am trying to model the LIRR in about 1950-51 when the CPA-20-5s had arrived but there were still a couple of PRR K-4s Left as well as G-5s & H-10s Sorry to be so long-winded!.........

[Sylvester Doxsey . . . . there's a LIRR veteran! I believe he began his career with the LIRR towards the end of the 19th century!  He was up there on the seniority roster for a long time. He held one of the Montauk runs for years, along with the Eichhorns. 

Great that he was your uncle! Didn't he live in Amagansett? Amagansett was a major terminal on the Montauk branch back in the early days and very few trains continued on to Montauk until the mid-late 1920s. Men who held Montauk runs usually either lived out there or rented there in private boarding houses nearby. One of those boarding houses even packed the men's lunch buckets for them before they left for their runs.]  Research: Dave Keller

Uncle Ves lived in Lynbrook when I knew him but of course he'd had a full career before I was born! His wife, Helen, was my Dad's older sister & there was another sister & her husband who lived in Amagansett ...about a half mile from the station so he may have stayed with them when he was working that run. Speaking of Amagansett, I think I remember a spur line that went to" Promise Land"( on Gardiner's bay) , otherwise known as the fish factory. What we called Bunker boats fished out of there in the summer after menhaden. I think the owner was The Smith Meal Co. It was a real bony fish that was ground into a meal type of fertilizer.. bagged and shipped out in boxcars, and the fish oil went out of there in tank cars. I remember seeing some of this activity when my Dad & I went there to fish off the docks.

Joe Gregory - Speonk 

My earliest memories of the Long Island are standing on the old platform at Speonk, watching the old equipment crawl into the station, I was barely tall enough to see the cab, but the sight and sound both frightened and amazed me, I grew up next to the tracks, I could hear but not see the trains most times, but still it was the sounds of these huge things blasting through my town that amazed me. I would watch trains at the old Center Moriches station for hours. Never taking a single picture! Now I still spend time there, and yes, I take pictures this time around.

Funny, my last memory of the 38's is watching a pair crawl into Speonk with a train, the exact same sight and sound that hooked me the first time around.

Len Torney - St. James 

I grew up on Mills Pond Rd in St James, about a half mile from the crossing. I could always hear the trains at night, especially when they ran it to "Run 8" when they left the station, and the wheels clacking over the rail gaps. (Especially in summer, since we didn't have AC in the house, so the windows were always open.) When I was in second grade, I had to do a report on a "Mode of Transportation", so I picked trains. Then I got some model trains for Christmas, and the hook was set. I ended up having a pretty good sized layout in my parents basement for years. (I was a big B&O fan at the time.) My Dad took us on a trip to the Strasburg RR in Pennsylvania too. I got a copy of "Decade of the Trains" for X-Christmas, and few LIRR books as well. I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven! Later on, I discovered rail photography, when I signed up for a class in High School. Been a train nut ever since! Took a while to get to used to the big freights and lashups they have out here in AZ. (But not too long! ) It was rough in Phoenix (Mesa), when I lived there, as the trains were few and far between, but where I'm at now, it's a non-stop parade, it's just a 45 minute drive to get trackside. 

Mike McDermet - Islip 1969

I'm 46.... (47 in January....) my earliest memories of the LIRR are about my Uncle Arthur. He was a conductor for about 30 years. He was a Staff Sergeant in WWII, then started working for the railroad after he got out. The story was he met my Aunt Anna on the train (over a dispute about the fare.) Guess it was fate, because as things turned out, they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary about 10 years ago. (1998). I don't know the exact year, but I would guess he retired sometime around the late 70's to early 80's. He just passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 93. He was the one who got me interested in trains and railroading. 

One of my Uncle's favorite expressions was "Haul ass for Hicksville".  He used it when he was in a hurry to get going somewhere; I didn't realize until recently, that it was probably a railroad expression among his colleagues at the time...)  

I remember (vaguely) the Babylon Branch stations when the tracks were being elevated. They lived in Merrick (I was about 8 or so at the time, I think.) My family now lives in the same house I grew up in (Islip), so I remember the old Islip Coal & Feed building, and the Islip station before the platform was elevated. islipcandf.jpg (71694 bytes)

Steve Lynch - Islip 1955

It must have been about October 1955; as I remember the leaves turning as a kid. Islip Ave, northbound, south of the  tracks. Steam Engine at station. The only steam engine I have ever seen operating. We were in a Studebaker Hawk.

Mike Capone - Brooklyn c.1964

I lived on East 38th Street in Brooklyn during this time. I used to either walk or ride my bike down to the branch some 3 city blocks from my house. My area of exploring was from the plastic company siding at Kings Parkway west to near Brooklyn College. I really got the bug a few years earlier when my father brought me down to watch the trains at the floats in Bay Ridge.

I used to see the New Haven freights going both ways on the center tracks. On the outside tracks were the LIRR locals, always led with an Alco switcher (!). It was great to watch them work the many siding in the area. I used love the sounds of those Alco 539’s panting away as they worked. The New Haven electrics, you never heard them until they were right on top of you.

Funny thing was even back then there was a LIRR Police patrolling the area. Rumor had it that they used to carry small shot guns filled with salt & pepper. Why? Can’t tell you, but I can say it was true because I got chased off the tracks near Glenwood Road and got a glancing shot of S & P in my butt! Man did that hurt! I told my mother that I fell off my bike onto rocks.

I went almost every day down to the tracks and I always was treated with a parade of trains. Too young to ever think about taking pictures, this was going to go on forever, wasn't it? All those siding always had cars on them. Of course the NH was moving hundreds of cars both ways. Who could ever believe in less then 5 years that whole world would come to a crashing halt?

This is why after some almost 40 years later, I was able to get a cab ride of the entire branch courtesy of the New York & Atlantic. And as we stopped in the Bay Ridge yard, I had tears in my eyes as I looked up to the area where me and my father looked down through the fence and watched the trains. Thanks dad for starting me on a great hobby. And a big thank you to Joe (emfinite) for setting up the ride for me and making me feel like a kid for at least for a day.

Peter McDonnell Jr. - Port Jefferson St. Feb 1999

My first recollection was around February '99 when my parents took me and my older brother to Port Jefferson Station. I remember seeing the blue and yellow GP38-2's, the FL-9's and C-1 "Bi-Level Prototypes" parked in the west yard. On that same day, I got to see the new C-3 Bi-Level cars. And when we ran out just as the doors were closing. I remember once my mom was going to NYC from KO in the morning rush, boy was I disappointed when I was told I was not going. But you should have seen the havoc out there, there were two trains in the station, the Greenport Scoot approaching, and lots of congestion.

When my family moved to Central Nassau county in August '00, I got to see more and more trains. On my way home from the Oyster Festival in Oyster Bay, I got a cab ride in Car Control Car 5013 with an engineer named Vinnie. He was the nicest engineer I've ever met. Anyway I was very pleased when I got to blow the horn approaching a signal. I blew the horn 4 times, but I only should have blown twice. By the end of '01, I was a train fanatic, knowing my stops and everything. But for a long  period, I barely noticed trains. But in 2005, here I came, with a film camera. Sprang to life taking picture after picture. Learning the history of the railroad

In 2006, I met the friends I have now. Like 9147 and Phill8281. This year, I got a digital camera and boy o boy have I used it. Snapping over 2,500 pictures of trains in less than a year! I also know the head of equipment as of now, Mark P. Sullivan. We met at my church. And Joe T, we met on the Bay Ridge Fantrip in July (Where I think I took the most pictures). Anyhow that is my train story as of now.

Tim Darnell  - East Williston 1963

I was born in Oceanside, NY in 1957, but moved to Yonkers, NY in 1961. While visiting an uncle in East Williston in 1963 (ironically, he lived around the corner from my wife!) I slipped on some ice, and was "overly dramatic" about it and stayed down too long! When we crossed over Hillside Ave. I saw the rear end of a train we missed, it could have been the only C-liner or H16-44 I ever saw on LI!
We were planning to move back to LI and looked at a house along the O.B. line, which would have involved crossing the tracks for school daily. I would have loved that, but may have been late or missed a lot of school!

We moved back to Baldwin in 1966, across Sunrise Highway from the Babylon line. lirrbaldwin1966KCScoachestimdarnell.jpg (19013 bytes)
There was very little diesel action (1 or 2 a day), but the MUs were still varied & interesting, until the M-1s were in place. I loved seeing the new C420s (222-229) arrive, the change from gray to platinum on the older MUs, and the FAs arrival.


In 1973 I "spread my wings" and biked to Mineola, Hicksville, Oyster Bay, and would go to Pinelawn after school, just in time to meet the Ronkonkoma freight (RF-61)  and see the newly arrived Precision engine at the wye. It was a great era, the last days of the Alcos, the lease power visiting, then the EMDs arriving. My drivers license in 1975 enabled me to visit Morris Park, Sunnyside and Corona, I was there the day the first GP38-2 arrived.  It was a great run for me!

Rob  - East New York Station 1959

My first recollection of the LIRR was about 48 years ago. I was 4 or 5 years old. We lived in East New York and were going to the wild frontier; Levittown. We got on at the East New York station. The station had these huge arches and I think there was glass panes in the arches. Then the train appeared out from the tunnel. The train had an orange front and round windows and a BIG spotlight on top!  It had a couple of  conductors in fancy uniforms! When we got to Levittown we had to use stairs to go down to the street and it was outside, just like the trains on TV! It was neater then the subway!

The stop was probably Wantagh and I wouldn't ride the LIRR for another twenty years. I rode it two or three more times in the intervening years. I now ride it 5 days a week. I miss the orange noses and that running guy in the decal.

Joe McMahon - Wyandanch c.Early 1940's WWII era

Early LIRR memories? At least once during World War II, our parents brought us by train to visit friends who lived in a wooden garage in Wyandanch, water pump and outhouse also on the lot.  At night, we walked to the Wyandanch station with an old newspaper in hand.  When the headlight of the westbound appeared at Deer Park, one would light the newspaper and wave it (horizontally?), as Wyandanch was a flag stop. Soon after the train left Wyandanch, trainmen checked that all window shades were pulled down, lest anybody on board spy on airplane production at Republic and Grumman. Hicksville was the last stop, and we waited there in the dark cold for the connection from Port Jefferson.  If my memory is correct, from Jamaica station we walked to the subway at Hillside Avenue.

Later LIRR memories include DD1's at Jamaica, the 1947 Freedom Train, and attempts at filming steam at Floral Park on 8mm.

Frankie - Mineola 1960

My first recollection of the LIRR was back in 1960 when my family moved to Mineola from Brooklyn. We lived around the corner from the old Nassau Hospital and a few blocks from the train station. I was 13 then. Dad worked for the NYCTA in East NY and I remember meeting him at the station every evening as the 5:03 pulled in from Jamaica. After dinner on most evenings I would take my bike and spend an hour or two at the station to watch the trains. But not without stopping first at Jim's candy store around the corner from the station to buy my 5 cent Hershey bar to munch on.

Now, that I live just outside the St. Louis area, it's still tradition with me to spend an hour or two at the Mineola station whenever time affords me when I drive back to Long Island to visit family. Mom has since remarried after Dad passed away and she now resides in Manhasset. I do stop at the station there now and then when I head into town each morning to pick of the newspaper, but trains are few and far in between. Nothing beats Mineola during the rush hour!

This past summer I had the opportunity to drive back to New York with my daughter and two grandkids. I took them train watching at Mineola one evening and I know it left an ever

RHL - Mineola 1959

My first Recollection occurred while sitting in the barber chair across from the Mineola train station. The barber shop was located on a corner and out the window you had a view of the station platforms. Al the barber would turn the chair away from the mirror and toward the tracks so I could watch the trains when they passed by. It was about 1959, and I was five years old at the time. I vividly recall seeing a MU train with an orange front heading east and asking my father how can a train move with out a locomotive on the front. He didn’t answer me because he didn’t know, and then I started to doubt myself about what I saw. Growing up on Emory Road, the station was only a ten minute walk, where I spent a good part of my youth, usually sitting in the open shelter near where the head end of the west bound trains stopped. I did have a chance to go up into Nassau tower a couple of times where I was allowed to throw the “Armstrong” levers of the interlocking plant.

Roger W. Jamaica - 1939

Going from our home in Park Slope, Brooklyn to Port Washington to visit my father's uncle. Trolley car to Atlantic Avenue station. Into the dark interior, the trains seemed like subway cars to me but larger. Anyway, they started out running by electric power through dark tunnels, then out into the daylight, looking at all those buildings to Jamaica.

 "Change at Jamaica!" -standing on the platform at Jamaica waiting for our next train, a toot, a rush of smoke and steam, a large black steam engine and a row of tuscan red coaches. Big engine, small boy, big eyes. After we got on board and started off, I sat by the open window, flecks of black soot on my shirt and an acrid whiff of smoke from time to time. When we arrived, climbing down the steps from the car to the platform. A look around. Yes, this city kid was now definitely in the country... I rode the LIRR many times thereafter, summer in Sag Harbor, other visits. Commuted from Hempstead to NY when I was in college. But nothing like that first time on the platform at Jamaica and my first ride on a steam engine.

LIRR172 - Southampton c. 1997-98

I wish to dedicate this to my parents, for being so supportive of me with my hobby, and for taking the few pictures of the LIRR equipment as they did, because without some of those, I would not have as clear a memory of the past trains than I do.  So thank you; Mom and Dad.
In the mid '90s, I was able to experience the tail end of the LIRR GP38-2's, MP15AC's and Powerpacks in service. They were great locomotives ride behind, and to just watch.

During that time period when I was young, my dad worked out on the east end of Long Island, around Southampton, and he would often bring me to work sometimes and we would drive to the station in our old but trustworthy Nissan Maxima to the Southampton station. Being a little kid, I loved seeing the green color-coded schedules as a opposed to the regular blue of the Port Jefferson branch, which we lived off of.  And of course every trip to the station we would bring one or two home. 

One of my most vivid memories of being out in Southampton, was when I was around three years old.  My mom and I picked up my dad where he worked (the car was in the shop), and the three of us drove to the Southampton station.  When we first arrived, I recall, there weren't any trains and we were about to leave when I heard a (what I now know to be) K5LA airhorn that couldn't be mistaken from a LIRR engine.  What I thought was quite funny looking back on this is that I looked for the train facing west, when it was really coming from the east.  The funny part is that the engine was only a few hundred feet off the other way, and yet I still looked facing west straining to see a train. Just at that moment, my mom took a picture with our old camera and I was able to remember that moment.

Within moments the big MP15AC rolled right into the station, and a handful of people got off. I waved to the engineer and he gave what he thought was a toot on the horn, but was more like a roar and echoing in my ear. He waved back, and the train accelerated out of the station.

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East of Glen Cove Station 
09/05/1998 Photo: Lirr172

I also remember quite clearly taking trips out to Glen Cove and Locust Valley on the Oyster Bay branch with my dad. Our house was being renovated, and the contractor happened to be a block or so from the Glen Cove station.  This often brought us out there, and I always remember eating at the Burger King right at the corner of the tracks where we would see many a train.  One day, we drove out there to get a bite to eat, and we both noticed that one of the "straws", as I called railroad crossings then, was missing from the road.  After arriving back home, we would read in the paper that a tractor trailer became stuck on the metal pad of the road crossing, and was struck by a train. 

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Locust Valley Tower 09/05/1998 Photo: Lirr172

One of my many other memories was that my dad and I drove out to St. James, on the Port Jefferson Branch, while looking at my future nursery school.  We found that the road was partially closed, and the railroad was replacing the fairly old and tired crossing signal.  While not a vivid memory, it is still fun to reminisce.  Later that day, I remember I was with my mom and we had driven to the road just west of the St. James station (the road name escapes me), to find that the crossing gate was cracked in half, and barely hanging on to the rest of it.  Within moments, a still blue & white painted GP38-2 cruised right past doing less than 5 miles per hour.  Whether the engineer was going slow due to the gate or something else, I don't know.

As I have grown older, I have become more and more interested in the history and information of the Long Island Railroad, and in that process I somehow managed to get my self intrigued in the Denver & Rio Grande Western's 3ft Narrow Gauge system in Colorado.  As far as things on the Island, when not in school I try to take pictures of and film the LIRR MP15AC's in training train service and the NY&A equipment, to remind me of the fun times of chasing after the now former, LIRR equipment. 

ERIE2521 - Camp Upton 1945

My first exposure to the Long Island was in June 1945. At that time, Camp Upton, now the site of Brookhaven Labs, had been transformed into an Army Convalescent Hospital and had a short spur of the LIRR near Yaphank. I was aboard a hospital train from the west coast which arrived at Upton - the first time I had ever been on Long Island itself. I was at Upton for a couple of months before I received a medical discharge.

Every Friday afternoon, the LIRR would run two specials from Camp Upton into Penn Station. These were non-stop except to change engines. Sunday night there would be two similar trains going back to camp. Those wishing to get back earlier could take a regular train out to Patchogue and a bus back to camp.

There is an interesting story about those Friday specials. Initially it was first come, first serve and, of course, everyone wanted to get on the first train. This resulted in a bit of pushing and shoving during the course of which one of the train windows was broken. Camp officials solved this problem by instituting a parade each Friday, varying the order of the various battalions. The parade ended up at the train station and automatically determined who went on the first train.

I was discharged August 11, 1945. They bused us over to Patchogue and now we were civilians. I still savor that trip to NYC, stops and all. I chose to remain in New York City for a few days and by the luck of the draw decided to take a train back to my home town of Rochester, NY on August 14, which turned out to be the night the war ended. Good timing. 

LongIslandTool - Hollis 1950's

As a three-year-old boarding a train with my father at Hollis and receiving a handful of seat checks from the Conductor.

Waiting in cold rain at the World's Fair station in the world's oldest MU with scissor end doors and bare light bulb chandeliers.

Watching the ceiling fans slow down and the interior lights dim as a train drew power to climb out of the underjump at Jamaica on the Atlantic Branch.

A billion cigarette butts on the tracks in Jamaica Station. 

Waiting outside Jamaica during rush hour for all fares aboard to be collected.

Watching a very young Road Foreman of Engines Jack Shelter jump down on Jamaica's Track 8 in a tan vested suit to line up the couplers between a ping pong car and an FM Trainmaster.  

Ocala Mike - Early 1950's Port Washington Branch 

My first recollections of the LIRR came when I lived in Corona, Queens and watched electrics on the Port Washington branch (mostly) skip our station at speed. This would have been in the early 50's.

In the summer of 1955 (Davy Crockett and Disneyland summer), we moved to 175th St. in Jamaica, Queens, about 2 miles from Jamaica station. That summer, I "discovered" Jamaica station, a railfanner's delight with its variety of diesel engines and bustling rush-hour activity. Spent many afternoons there hanging out.

Some Oyster Bay trains were still led by steam up until the fall of that year, and I have a vivid recollection of getting up close and personal with a steam engine on track 8. As I was admiring it, either the fireman or engineer thought it would be a goof to scare the bejesus out of a 13-yo kid by letting the steam off; I think I jumped up and back about 20 feet! What memories of Jamaica station and also of watching trains rolling by at the old Floral Park station, a bike ride away. Only regret is not having a camera at the time. 

Jack Deasy - Astoria, Queens 1960

My first memories of the LIRR go back to about 1960 and reflect two situations:

(1) I lived in the Astoria - Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, so a walk of about 30 minutes south from my home took me to my choice of either the Honeywell Avenue bridge or the Steinway (39th) Street bridge over Sunnyside Yard and the LIRR mainline. 

I was impressed with the volume of LIRR train movements, even on a Saturday or Sunday. I remember seeing only electric MU equipment, older MP54 and newer MP72 classes, including the unique MP70 cars with their interesting upstairs/downstairs seating arrangement. 

I don't recall seeing any diesel locomotive hauled trains at that location. If I used the Honeywell Avenue bridge, I also got a good look at the LIRR Yard "A", the PRR engine terminal and all the passenger cars in Sunnyside's west end yard.

(2) We spent the month of July on vacation in the hamlet of New Suffolk, about two miles distant from the Cutchogue station or three miles distant from the Mattituck station. 

The ride from Jamaica to Mattituck was usually a Saturday morning train (departing Jamaica around 9 AM) in early July. Jamaica station was a busy place with a steady stream of train announcements. I recall our train usually departed from track 8, there was an Alco road-switcher locomotive on the head end and a number of older “Pong” coaches. 

I think I also remember a baggage car in the consist, probably to handle US Mail and newspapers, and a heavyweight parlor car, but we always rode in coach. At least one of our eastbound trips was delayed by a locomotive failure. I don’t recall if they sent another locomotive to rescue our train, or if we were transferred to buses for the remainder of our eastward trip. 

I do remember that the ride quality deteriorated as we traveled eastward from Hicksville and Ronkonkoma. The ballast seemed to be more cinders than crushed stone, and the ties looked old. 

During those four weeks in New Suffolk, I could hear the locomotive horns when the wind was blowing in the right direction, but I rarely ever got to see a train itself. Our return trip on a Saturday or Sunday evening around the end of July was usually from Cutchogue to Jamaica, departing Cutchogue in late afternoon or early evening. I can recall looking east towards Southold, down the mainline track at Cutchogue, striving to be the first to see the locomotive headlight as the approaching westbound train crested a hill or rounded a curve and came into view. 

Sometimes there would be freight cars on the siding (outbound potatoes from the I. M. Young Company?) on the north side of the mainline by Depot Lane at Cutchogue. I also recall the first time I rode in a modern P72 coach on one of those trains; how nice the car's air conditioning felt on a hot humid summer day. 

I felt that part of my summer vacation ended when we detrained at Jamaica and then walked more than a few block to the IND subway station at Sutphin Boulevard for the ride to Steinway Street and home.  

John J Murphy  - Amityville 1955 to 1975

My earliest recollections of the Long Island Rail Road were at Amityville Station in the town I grew up in. I used to ride daily with my grandmother to pick up my grandfather at the station each afternoon. He always took the trains to/from Penn Station. My first impressions were of the different color schemes of the MU fleet: some gray, some Tuscan, some silver roofs, some black roofs. Then there would usually be an east end express come flying by sporting the parlor cars with the blue band around the windows. As the years wore on into the late 1950s and 60s the colors stabilized with orange and gray. I do have two faint recollections of a steam locomotive hauling freight. The first was an afternoon west bound freight with the noisiest whistle I ever heard and the smoke trail that lingered after the train passed through. The other image I recall was as an infant riding along Long Island Avenue on the main line with my grandfather and mother and seeing a very noisy steam train hauling freight cars going east. Back to Amityville, I was graduating high school when the grade elimination project was finally completed. However I still recall vividly the original at grade line with its multitude of sidings that served the local industries alongside the railroad.  

Matthew Kobel - Wantagh 1992

Since, I'll be 24 on October 24th, in my short life with many years ahead, the first time I got hooked to the Long Island Rail Road I was only 2 when my Mom took me up to Wantagh. Since then, many important projects took place, and a future one is in the works. From being born in Rockville Centre to calling Amityville and Wantagh my hometowns, better yet the entire Babylon Branch (my favorite out of all of them).

I remember my Dad taking me to train stations along the Main Line, and had a photo taken of me against a billboard with a guy leaping to give the illusion he was jumping over me, and a photo of me in front of one the eagle statues (the one at Hicksville) that was at Penn Station before they moved them. From M1/M3 to M7 commuter rail cars to the C1 and C3 double deckers with DC30's that replaced the old diesels and MP75 cars, I will miss the railroad's current status down the road, but it's going to be great down the road. Here are my recollections:

1.) Running the 22 mile distance from Babylon to Valley Stream in one day. I was a track and cross country runner.
2.) Taking the 10:07 AM express from Babylon, going 80 MPH!
3.) Watching the parade from Merrick from the station, even found an old railroad spike from the elevation project of the station.
4.) Taking the rickety ride on the old diesel cars, going a slow 35 MPH back then.
5.) School field trip to Radio City Music Hall with my Dad from Amityville (with 200 kids in 2 cars)!
6.) Listening to the Goo Goo Dolls while my Mom was driving down Sunrise Highway to and from my Nanu and Pa's place in Wantagh.
7.) Getting a photo of every single platform name sign at the 124 stations.
8.) Looking at the Power Lines.
9.) Seeing a DC30, M7, and a M1/M3 idling on all 3 tracks at Babylon and taking the photo.
10.) Building the model of Amityville's elevated and grade level stations from 1968 to today to the smallest detail.
11.) The rhythm of the crossing bells ringing.

I'm going to miss the M1/M3's with their sleek look, idling noise from the HVAC system, and the old-style Mushroom Lights. Of course there are current and future projects to look forward too such as the M9, Massapequa rebuild/pocket track, Wantagh rehabilitation, Grand Central East Side Access, double-tracking the Ronkonkoma Branch, and possible grade crossing eliminations and possible electrification projects.

I really wish I was born earlier to see the elevation of the Babylon Branch from the 1960's to 1980, electrification of the Ronkonkoma Branch and from Mineola to Hicksville and Huntington, the first revenue service of the M1, and the double-tracking from Amott Interlocking to Huntington on the Port Jefferson Branch.

I will forever be a fan of the LIRR, and I'm proud to call myself a commuter of the Long Island Rail Road even though I live in Easton, Pennsylvania and have lived there since I was 13. I visit all the time and take the train, so I'm still a native New Yorker and Long Islander, and being from the New York City Metropolitan Area.