Long Island Rail Road: Port Jefferson Branch

Arcadia Publishing
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The Long Island Rail Road is the oldest railroad in the country still operating under its original name. As the busiest railroad in North America, it carries 265,000 customers each weekday aboard 735 trains on 11 different branches. The Port Jefferson Branch serves 10 stations from Hicksville to Port Jefferson and carries nearly 20 percent of the railroads passenger traffic over its 32 miles of track. Hicksville Station is the site of the October 8, 1955, End of Steam Ceremony, when steam locomotives were retired from service. The oldest surviving station building constructed by the Long Island Rail Road is on this branch at St. James. Between 1895 and 1938, the branch extended 10 miles east to Wading River. The branch was not electrified until 1970 and that was only to Huntington Station, east of which is served by diesel and dual-mode locomotives.
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About the author

David D. Morrison is a retired Port Jefferson Branch line manager and railroad historian. The author of four other railroad history books, including Long Island Rail Road Stations and Jamaica Station, he is a charter member of the Railroad Museum of Long Island and a member of the Oyster Bay Railroad Station Restoration Committee.

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Arcadia Publishing
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Published on
Oct 28, 2013
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History / United States / State & Local / Middle Atlantic (DC, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA)
Photography / Subjects & Themes / Regional
Transportation / Railroads / History
Transportation / Railroads / Pictorial
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In this account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage, Stephen E. Ambrose offers a historical successor to his universally acclaimed Undaunted Courage, which recounted the explorations of the West by Lewis and Clark.
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The Union had won the Civil War and slavery had been abolished, but Abraham Lincoln, who was an early and constant champion of railroads, would not live to see the great achievement. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes to life.
The U.S. government pitted two companies -- the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads -- against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. Locomo-tives, rails, and spikes were shipped from the East through Panama or around South America to the West or lugged across the country to the Plains. This was the last great building project to be done mostly by hand: excavating dirt, cutting through ridges, filling gorges, blasting tunnels through mountains.
At its peak, the workforce -- primarily Chinese on the Central Pacific, Irish on the Union Pacific -- approached the size of Civil War armies, with as many as fifteen thousand workers on each line. The Union Pacific was led by Thomas "Doc" Durant, Oakes Ames, and Oliver Ames, with Grenville Dodge -- America's greatest railroad builder -- as chief engineer. The Central Pacific was led by California's "Big Four": Leland Stanford, Collis Huntington, Charles Crocker, and Mark Hopkins. The surveyors, the men who picked the route, were latter-day Lewis and Clark types who led the way through the wilderness, living off buffalo, deer, elk, and antelope.
In building a railroad, there is only one decisive spot -- the end of the track. Nothing like this great work had been seen in the world when the last spike, a golden one, was driven in at Promontory Summit, Utah, in 1869, as the Central Pacific and the Union Pacific tracks were joined.
Ambrose writes with power and eloquence about the brave men -- the famous and the unheralded, ordinary men doing the extraordinary -- who accomplished the spectacular feat that made the continent into a nation.
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