Railroad Service in 1868

Footnotes to Long Island History


MARCH. 9, 1950 


Thomas R. Bayles


       It was a great day for the south side villages when the Long Island Rail Road was extended from Babylon to Patchogue in 1868. Previous to that time, passengers, mail, express and freight had to be hauled from the Main line stations to the south side villages. The main line was extended to Greenport in 1844.

       Among the early wood- burning locomotives that were used during the construction of this branch and later used to haul the small trains of wooden cars was the Uncle Tom, a product of the late 1850's and named for the hero of Harriet Beecher Stowe's immortal book.

       Another was the Eppin which was built in the south for the use of the Confederate army during the Civil War, and confiscated during the war by the government. She was later sold to the Long Island Rail Road for use as a construction locomotive on the south shore extension. The Pewit, another wood burner used on the south shore line during the early years of its operation, was possibly the first passenger engine in regular use on this line.

       In addition to the passengers runs during the week Pewit used to pull the milk train to Bushwick in the early hours every Sunday morning. This was the only train permitted to run over the entire line on Sunday and not a single passenger was allowed to ride on this train, which was operated with the smallest crew possible.

       According to an old newspaper, the president of the road used to inspect the Sunday milk train personally to see if any stowaways were on board who were trying to commit the awful sin of riding the train on Sunday. No matter what the emergency, passengers had to wait until Monday morning to travel.

       George H. Donaldson of Babylon used to run the old Eppin as a construction locomotive in 1867.

       "I doubt if there was ever an engine like her," He said. "All the rods and connections were either inside or underneath, possibly to prevent vandalism during the war times. At any rate, she was a mean one to oil from the running board, and I remember how my fireman used to rebel when ordered to get out and oil her while running."

        In contrast to the present bankrupt condition of the Long Island Rail Road, the following financial statement for the year ending September. 30,1887, taken from the Brooklyn Eagle of December 21, 1887, showed it to be in a very prosperous condition at the time :

                                        Gross earnings    $2,904,772,00

                                         Operating Expenses 1,788,415.00

                                         Net earnings           1,206,357.00

                                         other income          119,097.00

          Expenses Interest on funded debt           312,335.00

                                         Rentals                 304,064.00

                                         Gross income      1,325,454.00

          Taxes on property used in operation of road 54,448.00

          Taxes on earnings and capital stock     29,462.00

                   Interest and discount                 39,940.00 


         The total was                  740,249.00 Net income $585,205.00  4% dividend on $10,000,000 common stock $400,000.00.Surplus for the year ending September 30,  1886, $185,205.00. Surplus up to September 30,1885 $ 639,325.00. Total surplus $824,530.00. Other statistics showed passengers carried 10,458,896, length of single track, 341 miles, number of locomotives, 110 passenger cars, 300

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