The August 2000 Mystery
BRT Excursion Train to LIRR Rockaway
It took less than a day for two rapidtransit.net readers to come up with the correct answerthe photo is of a Brooklyn Rapid Transit company employee excursion to Rockaway Beach on the Long Island Railroad's Rockaway Park branch, and the date is August 15, 1916.
The Winner of the Mystery Photo Contest is Bill ("Newkirk") Mangahas of Newkirk Images, who sent in the correct answer
in the wee hours of the morning after the photo was posted. Later the same
Andersen, proprietor of the www.lirrhistory.com website also identified
the location on his favorite railroad.
Bill and Bob each noticed a
small identifying detail in a photo with few solid clues. The detail is
the LIRR-style fence at the lower right. Good sleuthing,
The right answer also came later from
"Jeff from the Branford Trolley
Museum" who took a good look at the brick building at right and guessed it
was the inspection shed at Rockaway Park. Jeff further opined that "AFAIK, the
inspection shed was on the north side of the station, so that train
is heading geographically east, and the patrons are heading home. And finally,
we also heard the correct answer from Stuart Schorr
Various readers came up
with a variety of possible locations. The great majority correctly guessed
that it was a beach resort, but which one? Guesses included the correct
answer of the Rockaways, as well asWest End Terminal, Culver Depot (both
Coney Island), Manhattan Beach (LIRR) and Golden City Park, Canarsie,
from when the Canarsie Line went to the shore of Jamaica
Deducing the Location
These guesses were good logical ones.
As of the date of the photo, seaside destinations of BRT trains included
West End Terminal, Sea Beach Terminal, Culver Depot (Culver and Brighton
Beach Lines), Canarsie and the Rockaways.
the Rockaways make this a "trick" question. Although the BRT-LIRR joint
service to the Rockaways is well know, extensively covered in Seyfried's
LIRR history and in Electric Railroader's Assn. publications, a Long
Island Rail Road destination may not come readily to mind as the location
of a Brooklyn Rapid Transit employee
Without the clues cited by the
winners, is it possible to figure out the
I would say yes, but it requires
some knowledge of BRT operations in August 1916 to figure out the location
by the process of elimination.
Culver Depot and Canarsie
Shore are readily eliminated by virtue of
the fact that the train is not running by overhead wire. Neither
terminal ever had third rail.
Manhattan Beach was no longer a BRT
destination. The only branch destination to survive elevation of the
Brighton was the racetrack spur, and that was also gone by
The Sea Beach operation was no longer connected to the elevated system,
subway service via the Manhattan Bridge having begun more than a year
So only the temporary West End Terminal and the Rockaway operation are left. The West End
Line had just given up elevated operation via the 5th Avenue L in June.
Subway service was provided via the 4th Avenue subway and the new elevated
structure on New Utrecht Avenue but only as far as 25th Avenue. So this
flag festooned elevated train could not have come in via the West End
So all that's left is the Rockaways
, which also happens to be the correct answer.
But is it Rockaway Park?
The exact station is not identified, but the end of the line at Rockaway Park is a good guess, since it would have provided layup facilities for the train while the picnickers froliced. But is it the right guess?
Jim Boylan writes: "The uncropped picture and the one with the title 'Detraining at Rockaway' provide clues that make me suggest an intermediate station on the Rockaway Park Branch of the LIRR.
"Both photos are taken on the shady side of the train. If the train was headed East and the photographer facing West, this would be the South side! So, I think we're looking at the North side of a Westbound train.
"Rockaway Park was a multi-track terminal with platform roofs and a head house. It probably didn't have inter-track fences, since most access was from the head house thru platform gates. People would have less reason to cross the tracks, since they might still have to exit at the same place!
"The photos show no trace of more than 2 tracks and platforms. There is a slight curve to the tracks and platforms. There was an ammusement park at one of the intermediate stations (there's a photo in Change at Ozone Park). I can imagine BRT renting the park for the excursion."
Everything on this site is
copyright 2000 by The Composing Stack Inc., except as otherwise noted.
Materials with other copyrights are used by
All rights reserved
Last updated Sunday, January 06, 2002