by Kevin Walsh

The Long Island Railroad’s Rockaway Beach Branch diverged from the LIRR’s Main Line in Rego Park at about 66th Ave. at what was called Whitepot Junction. It ran south through the neighborhoods of Middle Village, Woodhaven, Ozone Park, Howard Beach, across Jamaica Bay and through Broad Channel, and on to the Rockaway Peninsula, where one spur continued east and rejoined the LIRR in Far Rockaway, and the other went west and dead-ended at Beach 116th St. at the Rockaway Park station. The LIRR discontinued service across Jamaica Bay in 1950 after a fire, and then ended service between Rego Park and Ozone Park in 1962. The Transit Authority stepped in and restored the Jamaica Bay connection in 1956, connecting the peninsula to the Liberty Avenue el, but the rest of the line has been allowed to deteriorate in place.

For the past couple of decades, two proposals have arisen to deal with that remaining right-of-way. The Queensway proposal would convert it to a linear park in the same way that the old West Side Freight Railway became High Line Park; similar conversions have been done in Philadelphia and Chicago. A second proposal (that I lean toward) would rebuild the rails and connect them to the IND Queens Boulevard Line, with a new subway line connecting the IND Rockaway connection at Liberty Avenue to Queens Boulevard or a new LIRR line connecting Atlantic Avenue with the main branch. Both would require a massive outlay in funds and support from local communities. 

I have been fascinated with these tracks for decades, and walked most of their route on a couple of occasions. So you don’t have to, I created an FNY post about it in 2019.

The above view of the tracks is from their most accessible point, on Trotting Course Lane just north of Margaret Place, which enters the park at this point. The ground is very uneven, so if you don’t have the balancing skills of a mountain goat, walking the tracks here is not recommended unless you can afford to be out of action with a strained or sprained ankle for awhile.

Check out the ForgottenBook, take a look at the gift shop, and as always, “comment…as you see fit.”



Tal Barzilai January 21, 2021 - 9:49 am

I still think that restoring train service will make more sense than just making it a park especially with the existing subway lines it can connect to.

Bob Marshall January 21, 2021 - 4:22 pm

When I still lived in Corona I often walked thru Forest Park.I don’t think we need any more trains running thru the area.

Peter January 21, 2021 - 6:37 pm

My fearless prediction is that nothing will ever get done.

Andy January 21, 2021 - 8:03 pm

The IND subway under Queens Blvd. was built with a turnout in the tunnel wall between the 63rd Drive and 67th Avenue stations, to enable an easy connection between the subway and the LIRR Rockaway Beach Line. In December 1933, three years before the subway opened at that location, it was announced that the city would purchase the LIRR Rockaway Beach Line to inclusion into the subway at that location. The plan never happened, but the turnouts are still there and could conceivably still be used. Some local trains that currently terminate at Forest Hills-71st Ave. could operate down the old LIRR route to Mott Ave. or Beach 116th St. Just think of the R train running from 95th St-Bay Ridge to Far Rockaway. Would be the NYC equivalent of the transcontinental railway.

BroadwayLion January 23, 2021 - 11:17 am

Yesss, a train, but the Queens line is almost fully saturated anyway.. Might work if you sent the (N) or the (R) train out that way.
Isn’;t that where (and why?) they have a false wall at one of those stations, to allow another track ala DeKalb?

PS: I *AM* a Robot… I *AM* a Robot… I *AM* a Robot… I *AM* a Robot… I *AM* a Robot… I *AM* a Robot… I *AM* a Robot…

Davey Joseph January 23, 2021 - 11:24 pm

I hope they can reconnect it. It’s eerie to see the third rail and the tracks overgrown. Linear parks won’t take CO2 out of the air. More electric rail transit will. A no brainer.


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