The view of the concrete Richmond Hill trestle from Hillside Avenue lets us see one of the Long Island Rail Road’s more intriguing relics: the Keystone.

The LIRR was run under the auspices of the now-defunct Pennsylvania Railroad from 1900 to 1966, and in those years, the LIRR signage adopted the “Pennsy” keystone symbol, since Pennsylvania is called the Keystone State. Until 1955, the LIRR’s chuffing steam engines all carried a keystone plate on their noses, when the last steam engine was retired from active service.  One of their complement, Steam Engine #39, is exhibited, Pennsy plate included, at the Railroad Museum of Long Island in Riverhead.

Surprisingly, few Pennsylvania Railroad relics, aside from the name of the main terminal in New York City, remain from the LIRR’s Pennsy days; this is one of the few.

Pop star Lady Gaga, meanwhile, is from Manhattan, not Queens, though she did show up in Astoria in late 2015 at a new restaurant’s opening night, the Pomeroy, as she is a friend of the owner.

Service on this branch of the LIRR, known as the Montauk Branch from Long Island City to Jamaica, ran in a limited fashion (2-4 trains a day) until 1998. Today, it has converted to 100% freight use, although in my opinion the MTA is missing out on an opportunity to run passenger service through underserved areas.


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9 Responses to PENNSYLVANIA RR KEYSTONE, Richmond Hill

  1. Andy says:

    Just a slight clarification on the dates when the Pennsylvania RR oversaw the LIRR. The Pennsy owned the LIRR from 1900 until January 1966, when NY State purchased the LIRR and made it a subsidiary of today’s MTA (in 1966 it was the MCTA – the C meaning “commuter”; became MTA March 1, 1968). LIRR entered bankruptcy protection in 1949; in 1954 it emerged from bankruptcy under NY State laws that allowed to operate as a railroad redevelopment corporation for twelve years, allowing it tax relief but still under Pennsy ownership. In 1965 Governor Rockefeller initiated the NY State takeover of the LIRR by persuading the legislature to pass laws creating the MCTA. In December 1965 Pennsy agreed to see the LIRR to NY State for $65 million (found money for the Pennsy), and the takeover became final the following month.

  2. Gary Farkash says:

    As a note: The LIRR was under the PRR ownership until 1964, not 1949. They sold it to the State of NY for a small sum during the NYWF, so the PRR owned the LIRR when the fair opened and NYS owned it when the faIr closed.
    Also, another LIRR steam locomotive, #35 is in the collection of the Oyster Bay RR Museum. It was the last LIRR steam locomotive to operate on the LIRR and is also undergoing restoration.

  3. jack says:

    My late father hired on the LIRR in 1924 after 7yrs in the US Navy…he fired steam engines in the old Richmond Hill/Morris Park round house(that job was called a “”fire boy””),then worked on the road(as a road fireman) then became a engineer just before WW2………retired just after the last steam engine was retired and diesels became the prime movers of passenger trains and freight…we had passes on the LIRR & PRR.I retired after 40 years of railroading in 2009,mostly in the mid west and far west.

  4. Larry says:

    I never thought that the giants of the Pennsy and the NY Central would end up defunct….

    • jack says:

      LARRY They never would have if thy hadn’t merged…..and in fact ConRail was nothing more then a super PennCentral also headed for the bone yard of history!!!…I worked for the E-L then ConRail then CSX….as I write this the huge Norfolk Southern giant is looking to merge with the CNR of Canada,west of the ole Miss River there are only 2 railroads(UP & BNSF)….giants do die!!!!

      • Larry says:

        I rode the Nickel Plate Passenger sleeper in the early 60’s from Chicago and it connected to the E-L train at Buffalo, thence to Hoboken….Those were great days before Amtrak……

  5. steve says:

    Everywhere the Pennsy went the keystone was sure to follow. Here’s an embossed-concrete one surviving in Baltimore:

  6. Steve says:

    Old Queens rail lines– better re-activate them before they are gone for good! We don’t need a high line park — we need the LIRR Montauk, and Rockaway branches running again to move people, and abandoned stations reopened (Woodhaven), Union Hall, Rockaway Junction, Bellaire, etc.

    • Daniel Timothy Dey says:

      Nah, Union Hall Street is too close to Jamaica, Rockaway Junction is too close to Hollis and Bellaire is too close to Queens Village. Woodhaven Junction on the other hand would make an ideal transfer station if the rest of the Rockaway Beach Branch were converted into a subway line from Ozone Park to Rego Park.

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