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MONTAUK BRANCH

 Originally by David Paul Gerber

(Also many parts written by Chris Sattler, with revisions, additions and updates to David’s original text)

The Montauk branch is the LIRR’s longest rail line.  At 117 miles from New York’s Pennsylvania station, the Montauk line stretches alongside Long Island’s south shore.  From Bay Shore, through Patchogue, and into the Hamptons to Montauk, there is plenty to see through your window.  The often scenic ride may take as much as 3.5 hours from New York City, but riders won’t feel it because of the often breakneck speed the train attains on mostly straight-aways.  The line operates in two sections:  1. From Bay Shore to Patchogue, where the bulk of the service is provided, from 4:30 AM to about 2 AM (although an overnight train from Montauk to Jamaica will make these stops on weekdays only).  2. From points east of Patchogue to the line’s end at Montauk, the line has service based on the season; additional weekend trains are added during the summer season.  That is the time the entire Hamptons area comes alive with the parties and summer house shares or rentals.  Trains departing from Jamaica station, have the option of using the Babylon branch or the Main Line spur from Hicksville to Babylon, bypassing Bethpage station.  Other trains begin/end at Babylon, with the transfer connection to the electric M-Series train there.  Because of the acquisition of new bi-level coaches in 2000, most platforms were renovated or converted to hi-level platforms.  Some other low usage stations were closed in 1998 to consolidate operations with the remaining nearby stations.  The Montauk branch is also home to the LIRR’s flagship (and most successful train service, ever), the Cannonball.  Departing every Friday at around 4 PM from Hunterspoint Ave station (plus an additional train on Thursdays, same time, during warm weather), the train makes a connection at Jamaica from Penn and Flatbush trains, then runs non-stop all the way to Westhampton, the first stop.  From Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day the Cannonball Fridays train is enhanced by an all-reserved Parlor Car service for an additional charge to the base Zone 14 fare (the train only makes Zone 14 stops), with special parlor cars used for this purpose.  A description of the Parlor Car service will be available this summer.

 History

 The Montauk line was a culmination of several jointly operated railroad companies that built different sections of the line.  In the late 1860’s the competing South Shore RR built the current line from Jamaica hub, along the Babylon branch (at grade, of course), to Patchogue only.  The LIRR main line had a spur from the current Greenport branch, about midway between Yaphank and Riverhead stations, to Eastport (between the current Mastic-Shirley and Speonk stations), before running east to Sag Harbor.  This spur is called the Manorville branch, and was still in use until 1939.  Some traces to the abandoned Manorville ROW are still visible if a walking hike out there can be attained in good weather.  After the competing railroads were consolidated to the LIRR, in 1879, a connection from Patchogue to Eastport was made (this would be the current line from Patchogue to Speonk.), and the final section from Bridgehampton to the historic Montauk station was built in 1895.  The section to Sag Harbor was also discontinued in 1939, although a 1900 station house at Sag Harbor station is still in use as a private business to this day.

  We start our trip byboarding our bi-level diesel train from Babylon, and leave for our first stop.  The stations covered in this section are from Bay Shore to Montauk.  For stations west of Bay Shore, please see the Babylon page  All stations use high-level platforms.

 

 

 

Bay Shore

Bay Shore: 2 tracks on 2 platforms, only station along Montauk Branch to use old style Hi-level platforms, use grade crossing at either end to reach other platform.  The 1912 farm-like station house is on the north platform, and is the 3rd house for this station.  There is parking on both sides.

 

 

Islip

Islip:  2 tracks, 2 platforms, parking on both sides with new platform (the appearance of these new platforms are dark green, complete with ramps for the disabled).   There is an interesting station house just to the east of the North platform, because not only does it have a clock tower, but a replica of a classic LIRR banner is right below the clock itself.  The windmill arrow has a locomotive design on it.  This house looks restored to its original pre-war appearance, but actually is young by LIRR’s standards.  The station house was built in 1963 and replaced an 1881 house.  The original station depot was built on the south side in 1868

 

 

Club House

Club House:  Abandoned station, first used in private service in 1868 to service the South Side Sportsmen’s Association, a private club.  Closed in 1897

 

 

Great River

Great RiverOriginal station name was Youngsport until the current name changed to current station name in 1881.  The first station house was built in 1897 and was gutted by a 1943 fire.  2 tracks, 2 platforms, parking on both sides.  There is a bus shelter on the south side. 

 

 

Oakdale

Oakdale2 tracks, 2 side platforms, parking on both sides, station house is this time on the south platform.  The station house is still standing since 1890, however my observations does indicate that it needs some TLC or a full restoration.  This is the 2nd station depot, the original station house opened in 1868.  Original low platforms are clearly visible just to the west of the current hi-level station.

 

 

Sayville

Sayville: 2 tracks, 2 side platforms, parking on both sides, station house on south side.  Only station on Montauk branch to have an overpass.  The station house was built in 1906 and renovated in 2001.  The prior station house opened in 1868.

 

 

Bayport

Bayport: Closed in 1980, the station opened in 1869 and a replacement station house in 1903 was demolished around 1963-64. 

 

Blue Point

 Blue Point:  Like Bayport, this station ceased operations in 1980, apparently for low patronage.  Station opened in 1870, and a replacement station house was built in 1900.  The 2nd depot was demolished in 1951.  There is evidence of a low platform next to a RR grade crossing but it may be traced to either Bayport or Blue Point, exact station is not known.

 At this point, there is a breakaway track that heads to the north, while a bit further , the line becomes single track with ample evidence of a 2 track operation in most sections.  Some sections of the 2nd track still exist.  From this point on, the line is single track with the customarily side platform until we reach Montauk. 

 

 

Patchogue

PatchogueParking, platform, bus stops and station house on south side, this is the terminal for most regular trains, they will use a relay track to the east of PD Tower.  The current station house opened in 1963 and has an ample waiting area; this is the 3rd station house.  Original station house opened as a shelter shed in 1869, and was replaced by the 2nd depot in 1888.  There is an unused north track.  To the east of Patchogue station, at grade crossing, is PD Tower.  This tower is noteworthy for the leaning appearance, as much as 10-15 degrees to the right facing the tower’s steps.  The tower is still standing since 1906 and underwent an interior renovation in the early 1970’s.  Tower Operators usually come out, with a long “reel” stick in hand and guide the top of the stick to the engineer as his train passes by the tower.  This is the most efficient way of relaying instructions to the crew on the train.

  

 

East Patchogue

Continuing on our way we bypass East Patchogue another abandoned station that was axed, due to the close proximity to the current Patchy station.  Some gravel and low platform observed is the most likely location to this former station.  Service to this station was from 1890 to 1928 only.

 

 

Bellport

Bellport (Originally Accobomac, then Brewster Place):  Short 1 car platform to the south, this station opened in 1882.  This station and Amagansett are the only 2 stations on the Montauk branch to have 1 car platforms.  Parking on south side only

 

 

Mastic- Shirley

Mastic-Shirley (Originally Forge station):  First built in 1882 as Forge station, it was renamed to Mastic in 1893.  In 1960, the station was moved to the current location and the new station house sits to the west end of the platform.  All facilities on south side.

 

 

Center Moriches

Center Moriches:  Abandoned station, one of several stations that closed in 1998, the last station house opened in 1985.  The parking lot on the south side is all that remains from the station closing.  First opened in 1881.

 

 

East Moriches

East Moriches: Abandoned station, closed in 1958, yet the brick station house is still intact.  Previous station house opened in 1897 and burned down in 1936. 

 

 

Eastport

Eastport:  (Originally Moriches station on the abandoned Sag Harbor branch in 1870).  The station was renamed to Eastport in 1881 and moved to its current location.  It was closed in 1958.  Soon after the closing, the station house was moved to a private location.

 Before arriving at Speonk, there is evidence of a second track in this stretch.   

 

Speonk

Speonk:  (Also named Remsenburg from 1895-1897).  This is the terminal for a couple of trains; there is a relay track to the east of the station.  All facilities on south side, current station house is to the east of the hi-level platform.  The first station house opened in 1870 and was replaced by a second one due to a 1901 fire.  That second house closed in 1958 and is in use today as a restaurant, with some table service.  The 3rd station house was built along with the new platform in 2001 and lies to the east of the hi-level platform.

 

 

Westhampton

WesthamptonAll facilities to the south side.  First station house built in 1870 and replaced in 1905 by a 2nd house.  The 2nd station house survived a fire and underwent a 1995 renovation.  This station house is to the west of the platform.

 

 

Quogue

Quogue:  Abandoned station.  3 station houses were built at this location, in 1875, 1882 and 1905 respectively.  The 2nd house was moved to a private location and the 3rd was torn down in 1964.  This station didn’t make the 1998 cut to continue service and was abandoned at this point.

 

 

Hampton Bays

Hampton Bays (Originally named Good Ground):  The named changed to current station name in 1922 to avoid confusion with the street (Good Ground Road) which runs to the north of the current station.  All facilities are to the north, continued unused second track in existence.  There were 3 station houses at this location.  The first depot in 1871 was destroyed by a fire in 1873.  A year later, the 2nd station house opened and lasted until 1913.  The 3rd depot opened in 1913 and closed on 1958, later razed in 1964. 

After leaving Hampton Bays, we cross the Shinnecock Canal Bridge, a drawbridge similar in design to one of the 2 Rockaway subway line Bridges crossing North and South Channels.  The following 4 abandoned station locations listed below are not known, so the first station might be before the bridge we are crossing.

 

 

Suffolk Downs

Suffolk Downs:  Abandoned station.  Opened 1907, and closed in 1927.  Station house moved to private property in 1923.

 

 

Shinnecock Hills

Shinnecock Hills:  Abandoned station.  Opened 1887, closed in 1932.  After the closure, the station house was converted to a United States Post Office, and later sold to private interests.  This structure is still standing.

 

Golf Grounds

 Golf Grounds:  Abandoned station.  Opened 1907, closed in 1932.  Station house moved to private property after the closure.  It was later replaced by Southampton College, L.I.U. Campus station.  Because of the close proximity to the nearby Southampton station, it closed during the 1998 ax of several stations.

 

 

Southampton

SouthamptonAll facilities on south side.  First station house opened in 1871 and replaced by the current depot in 1902. 

 

 

Water Mill

Water Mill:   Abandoned station.  Station house and service began in 1875 and replaced by a new house in 1903 and closed sometime in the 1940’s, this site is currently in use as a private business.  Service to this station ended in 1968.

 

 

Bridgehampton

BridgehamptonAll facilities to the south.  Opened in 1870, the first station house was destroyed by an 1884 fire; it was replaced by a 2nd house soon after that.  The 2nd station house closed in 1958 and later demolished in 1964.  There is no station house currently at this location.

 

 

Wainscott

Wainscott:  Abandoned station.  Station houses were built in 1898 and 1915, the latter moved to private property after the station closed in 1936.

 

 

East Hampton

East Hampton  All facilities to the south side.  Original station house built in 1895 and is still standing.  The exterior of the house needs some TLC.

 

 

Amagansett

AmagansettOne car short platform to the south.  An 1895 freight station directly to the opposite of the station (to the left in the direction we are traveling) sits there to this day.  There is a shelter shed on the platform, it was built in 1965.  Original station house built in 1895 and replaced due to a 1910 fire.  That 2nd station house closed in 1958 and demolished in 1964.

 

 

Montauk

MontaukWe finally arrived at our destination after 3 plus hours on the rails.  New hi-level island platform sits to the west of the old low platform that is still there (as a sidewalk).  Gravel parking to the north, LIRR yard and mobile office to the south of the current platform.  I myself was walking on the RR tracks instead of using the low platform, just for the feel or “working on the railroad”.  The first station house opened in 1895.  The 2nd house is built next to the end of the stub track at the yard (I was not able to find this house because I had only a 30 minute layover, it should still be there).  The 3rd and current station house (built in 1942) sits to the end of the bumper block of the low platform, is now used as a private art business and museum.  The waiting bench in front of the white house, and facing the track, is left intact.  Taxi service is usually identified as purple cars or vans and will take you to the Montauk Lighthouse and State Park, a 15 minute ride from the station, or anyplace with Montauk.  Breathtaking views of the landscape can be taken in while at Montauk station, among them a mansion sits at the crest of a hill, facing east. 

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 Last revised 03/12/2011

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