Produce Raised on Long Island in 1904

Footnotes to Long Island History

Produce Raised on Long Island in 1904


Thomas R. Bayles



            The Port Jefferson Times carried the following story of agricultural products raised and shipped from Long Island in their issue of Feb. 27, 1904.

            “During the past year there was shipped by Long Island Railroad from eastern Long Island over 250,000 tons of fresh fish, including cod, blue fish, weakfish, sturgeon, bass and flounders.  There was also shipped by railroad some 30,000 barrels of crabs from Center and East Moriches, Eastport and Brookhaven.  Also thousands of boxes of scallops, which have lately been bringing $4.00 a gallon. (Quite different from the current price of about $12.00 a gallon)  About fifty steamers of the American Fisheries Co. catch menhaden by the millions and process them at Promised Land, Easthampton, and Barren Island, Jamaica.

            Important as the fishing industry is to Long Island, its agricultural interests are far greater.  During the past season about 285,000 barrels of cauliflower were shipped from eastern Long Island by railroad.  From the north fork of the Island were shipped 300 carloads of 500 bushels each of the finest potatoes ever raised and shipped to the New York market.  Also raised and shipped were thousands of packages of onions, cucumbers, asparagus, cabbage and other vegetables.  The steamers of the Montauk Line took last fall from Orient Point, 34,000 barrels of potatoes, 6,000 barrels of cucumbers, and large quantities of other vegetables.  In addition they took from Shelter Island 15,000 barrels of potatoes and 5,000 barrels from Greenport.

            George W. Hallock of Orient, took across the sound to the Boston market in his own steamer over 300,000 barrels of produce, a large part of it grown on his own farm.

            The cranberry crop of Riverhead and vicinity, amounting to thousands of boxes annually, raised on the otherwise worthless bog meadows, is one of the most important crops of the town.

            It is estimated that 750,000 bushels of potatoes are shipped by railroad from the fertile farms of Southampton and Westhampton, and thousands of bushels of lima beans were shipped last fall from points on the main line from Deer Park to Riverhead.  Thousands of barrels of all kinds of pickles are shipped every year from the pickle houses at Farmingdale, Central Park, Huntington, and Northport.

            From the fertile farms of western Suffolk, Nassau and Queens Counties immense quantities of vegetables are carried every year between August and Christmas to the New York and Brooklyn markets.  An average of over 250 market wagons wind their way to the Wallabout market, carrying 40 to 50 barrels each, of cabbage, potatoes, sweet corn, tomatoes, beets, turnips, carrots, onions and other fall crops.  Also, 30 to 40 wagon loads go over the College Point Ferry daily to the Harlem market, and 50 to 60 wagon loads over the Astoria ferry to the same market.

            The poultry products of the Island are very important, and over 10,000 barrels of ducks are shipped annually from the farms at Eastport, Speonk, East Moriches and other points along the south side.

            Long Island cordwood is an important article in the city kindling wood yards, and its chestnut ties are sought after by the railroads. (This was before the blight killed all the chestnut trees on the Island.)

            The products of Long Island flower and seed farms will run into millions of dollars each year, and shipments find their way into all parts of the world.”

            Today about 50,000 acres of potatoes produce over fifteen million bushels annually, in addition to over four thousand acres of cauliflower and other vegetables, but the Long Island Railroad gets but little of this business these days.  Most of the land on the western end of the Island that used to produce such quantities of vegetables has been taken over for housing developments.  Trucks during the winter bring up oranges and grapefruit from Florida and take back potatoes.


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