Jul 25 2017

Malverne Treasure #1: A Letter from William K. Vanderbilt, Jr.

Over 150 Long Island Motor Parkway surveys, maps, blueprints and drawings discovered by Roy Knoernschild in a Malverne basement are being categorized, repaired and scanned. During this process, another gem was discovered-a signed 1911 letter from William K. Vanderbilt Jr.  sent to an engineer for the Long Island Motor Parkway.

Can anyone figure out why this letter was sent?


Howard Kroplick

Courtesy of Roy Knoernschild

The September 13, 1911 letter was typed on W.K. Vanderbilt, Jr.'s letterhead from his Grand Central Terminal office. It was sent to E.H. Brown, an engineer for the Motor Parkway.

It was concerned with the "clearance of overhead bridges for one track".

Willie K's signature.

Hand-written notes on the letter.

Blueprint Attached to Willie K's Letter

The bluepint shows "Typical Sections Showing Overhead Highway Bridge for Single Track" for bridges with 16-foot and 22-foot clearances.

Can anyone figure out the purpose of the letter and blueprint?

In 1911, the Motor Parkway was extending the Western Terminus from Great Neck to Rocky Hill Road in Queens with no plans to cross an active railroad track. Moreover, three Nassau County bridges had already been built to cross railroad tracks.

Update: As suggested by Joe Oesterle's below comments, Willie K's letter may be in relation to the Motor Parkway bridge built over the Queens Central Railroad's right-of-way.


Jul 25 2017 Joe Oesterle 10:48 PM

What about the railroad bridge built over the abandoned track of the Central LIRR near Bell Blvd?  Could this have been a single track?

Jul 25 2017 Joe Oesterle 10:57 PM

The current Bell Blvd bridge of the current LIMP biking/jogging greenbelt trail was built after the parkway closed.  I believe reading somewhere it was built in 1940.  At this time the parkway was straightened out, so to speak.  Prior it took an “S” like turn, swinging south (as you drove east), then turning northeast so that it could cross over a steel railroad bridge at a 90 degree angle.  Then the LIMP turned southeast and then gently east.  This was so the LIMP would not cross over the railroad at any strange angle.  Rather it would cross straight.  This RR line was already not in use.  And connected with the main line in Floral Park.  This line has the bridge over Jericho Tpke in Floral Park just before it connected with the main line.  You have even posted pictures from and of this bridge from the 1904 race. 

My Point?  Was this a single track?  Was this why WKV wrote this letter? Is the RR crossing that this letter was written to address?

-Joe Oesterle

Jul 26 2017 frank femenias 1:50 PM

Great observation Joe. I believe this long abandoned RR was a single track. Also, I recall reading somewhere a while ago that the LIMP was deliberately curved here to make use of an existing RR bridge, to save money instead of building a new one.

Jul 26 2017 Brian D McCarthy 3:27 PM

Sure I speak for all…..so looking forward to viewing these documents that Roy placed in the right hands, Howard. My next search on the Detroit site will zero in on “Road Construction”. There is so many images on that site, perhaps I’ll come across this area. Mr. Lazarnick was quite the photographer. Many thanks to his passion/dedication.

Jul 31 2017 robert miller 12:45 PM

From what I gleaned, his engineers knew of the abandoned roadway abutments at that site, which would make it cheaper to cross the depressed LIRR (C RR of L I) at that point, rather than make a whole new crossing.

Jul 31 2017 Frank Mendyk 2:52 PM

Are you sure that E.H. Brown was a engineer for the parkway?  Could it be that he was a lawyer for the parkway?  The letters Esq sometimes refers to an esquire or lawyer.  Could it be possible that E.H. Brown was asking Willie K for the legal requirements and specs for bridges in reference to the New York Central and New Haven railroads?
From Howard Kroplick
Frank, E.H. Brown is listed as the Motor Parkway engineer on several of the Malverne treasure chest blueprints.

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