Dec 18 2010

The Bethpage Challenge Part IV: A Few More Gems From Deadman’s Curve

Over the last three days, the location of the second Bethpage Deadman's Curve was documented as being north of Central Avenue on the Stymus property. A closer look at the photos and documents reveals a few more new and old gems:

A search of the newspapers and trade journals the era on the Vanderbilt Cup Races and the Long Island Motor Parkway surprisingly reveals little mention of "Deadman's Curve":


The August 2, 1908 issue of The New York Times featured a photo of the Stymus property with the caption: " After crossing over the Long Island R.R. the parkway will go through this cut curving into some of the prettiest farming country on Long Island."


This 1908 newspaper article describing the Vanderbilt Cup Race course provides a mention of a "Death Curve":


"Death Curve", one of the most abrupt turns of the twenty-five mile course, that tried the nerves of the racing automobilists yesterday to the snapping point, proved conclusively that the new cement used for the Parkway addition road surface is the best yet devised for the proper percentage of wheel friction and prevention of skidding.

Speed was attained rounding corners never attempted before. Drivers after one lap placed absolute confidence in the road's resistance, and although warned by signs to slacken speed at this dangerous place to twenty miles per hour they swept around without the slightest dimunition.

The "death curve" is situated about three miles to the east of the grand stand. The turn comprises a descent of above forty feet just after crossing a bridge and then short "S" curves within a length of five hundred feet. Preceding this crucial curve to the west is an abrupt right angle turn distant about two hundred feet. Within this seven hundred feet drivers repeatedly took their lives in their hands, pounding along a mile a minute and waving to scores standing at the Central Park bridge crossing as they passed.

The initial building of the Long Island Motor Parkway was conducted by over 600 workers who spent weeks and months away from their families to complete the work. One of the workers, T. Griffin, sent this postcard to his sister C.A. Griffin of 262 Bridge Street in Northampton, Massachusetts:


This is what Grfiin wrote to his sister on August 11,1908:

Dear Sis, Am working in Central Park L.I. on an automobile speedway T .


The front of the postcard showed the "Motor Parkway through Nibbe's Hollow, Central Park, L.I.". Griffin added the following note:

This is part of the course where auto races will be held in Oct.



Take a closer look of this view of Stymus property in October 1908. Behind the trees is the Nibbe Motor Parkway Farmway Bridge connecting Peter Nibbe's Farm located on both sides of the Motor Parkway.In 2008, Al Velocci and I went searching for remnants of the Nibbe Motor Parkway Bridge. Although there was no conclusive evidence of the bridge, Al and I took a short walk to the west and made an amazing discovery.



As you recall in this north view from the Central Avenue/LIRR Motor Parkway Bridge, there was a small cemetery to the left of the road. Here is where Al and I found Peter Nibbe!!!



Finally, at the Stymus curve on the right, the Motor Parkway placed a black rectangular sign. Here's a closeup of the warning sign as illustrated by cartoonist Tom Wilson.

Links to related posts on VanderbiltCup Races

The Bethpage Challenge Part I: Documenting the Second Bethpage Deadman's Curve

The Bethpage Challenge Part II: Building the Central Avenue Motor Parkway Bridge

The Bethpage Challenge Part III: The Second Deadman’s Curve

Historic Motor Parkway Sites in Bethpage

Index: Long Island Motor Parkway- Nassau County

Survey Maps of the Motor Parkway

Pioneering Road Features of the Long Island Motor Parkway

Starting Lineup- The 8 “N” Cars of the 1908 Nassau Sweepstakes



Dec 19 2010 Art K. 2:00 PM

Guess I should have finished the entire series as you mention the cemetery here again.

Dec 19 2010 Howard Kroplick 9:59 PM

From Lou K:

Thank you for the excellent documentative and jam packed with exciting historical informative weekly emails. The amount of time it must take you to assemble this information must be enormous. I enjoy looking through it all . I just had to write you and thank you for the enjoyment I get from seeing it all.

Dec 19 2010 Howard Kroplick 10:01 PM

From Penny:

Happy Holidays Howard and thanks for all the time, energy and dedication you have put into this web site .

Dec 28 2010 Frank F 10:23 AM

Happy Holidays Howard and to all LIMPers out there. One question about Nibbe’s stone. Is it located on Revere Av and Norcross Av in Bethpage? That was an amazing find! Everyone have a Happy and Safe New Year!!

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