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The Opening of the Long Island Rail Road to Greenport -1844

Footnotes to Long Island History

The Opening of the Long Island Railroad to Greenport- 1884

by

Thomas R. Bayles


    The completion of the long Island Railroad to Greenport in July 1844 opened up a new era in history of eastern Long Island. Where formerly it had taken three days of tedious travel by stage coach to reach Brooklyn from East Hampton or Oyster Ponds, (Orient) the Boston train as it was known in those days made the trip to Greenport with two short stops to replenish fuel and water in three and a quarter hours, and the run had been made in two hours and 35 minutes.

   The following quotation from Primes history of Long Island in 1845 shows something of the effect the opening of the railroad had upon the people of the communities many of whom had never been more than 20 miles from their homes.

    "It is impossible to divine the amazing changes which this improvement will effect on both the intellectual and secular interests of the eastern parts of the Island. The  inhabitants have scarcely yet recovered from the consternation produced by the actual opening  of the road. Though during it construction its future facilities were often foretold, multitudes regarded them as the vagaries of a disordered brain or the willful misrepresentations of interested individuals who wished to obtain passage through their stunted pines for mere song. But until they beheld with their own eyes, the cumbrous train of cars drawn by the iron horse, spouting forth smoke and steam,. passing like a steed of lightning through their forests and fields with such velocity they could not tell whether the countenances of the passengers were human, celestial, or infernal, they would not believe that a rail road had the power almost to annihilate both time and space."

     After the railroad was completed to Hicksville and gradually extended into Suffolk County, it was operated on Sunday, which bought serious apprehensions to the minds of the people in the towns through which it passed, it is recorded according to Prime.

"And in anticipation of its continuance and extension, the good people of the eastern towns instead of rejoicing in the secular benefits they were to receive, began to pour out bitter lamentations in view of the moral desolations that were to set in upon them. but a brighter prospect is presented. The railroad has been completed, and through out its entire length not a car moves on the Sabbath day. This important concession to correct sentiment deserves the support of all good citizens and it is hoped that their patronage will make this arrangement profitable to the company."

   The matter of forest fires was one of serious concern to the people of the communities through which the railroad passed. These fires which were set by sparks from the locomotives, destroyed by thousands of cords or cordwood which had been cut and piled and aroused a great deal of indignation among the people. Numerous outbreaks against the railroad were caused by this condition, during the first years of its operation.

      Manorville was an important stop of the "Boston" train to load wood and water and also as a meal stop for the passengers in those days.

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