Sep 14 2013

Then & Now: The Motor Parkway Railroad Station on the “Hempstead Extension (Spur)” Part I

Dick Makse has forwarded this photo of a Long Island Railroad cash fare receipt dated from 1915 to 1916 with the following email:


I am thoroughly enjoying your website. I have Al Velocci’s Toll Lodge book and have been interested in the history of the LIRR all my life (I’m 65) and, in general, the history of LI.

A fellow historian recently acquired a conductor’s cash fare receipt (the ticket you get when you pay your fare on board the train) and I estimated that ticket to date from 1915-1916. What I was looking for but couldn’t find on your site was a reference to the Hempstead Extension referenced in Al’s book. Since I was aware of the extension, I did a little more digging and found that the place where it was to cross the LIRR’s Central Extension (as it was called) would later be the future location of the LIRR’s Mitchel Field station; indeed, on this ticket, was station was listed as Motor Parkway.

It is my belief that since no races were held at the Grandstand after 1910 (the year Penn Station opened), this indeed was a short-lived (two or three years) station that was first called Motor Parkway, was replaced with a Camp Mills station further east in 1918 and another station called Mitchel Field was established sometime in the early 20’s. Motor Parkway was probably nothing than a cinder platform with a rude wooden shelter as was Mitchel Field.

My reason for writing is twofold. Do you know of photos of the area where the Hempstead Extension would cross the LIRR Central Extension? Or do any photos exist looking from the LIMP south in the approximate alignment of the Hempstead extension. Secondly, have you ever seen a railroad ticket to the Grandstand station? They undoubtedly existed but none of my fellow collectors have ever seen one.

Thanks in advance for any response and also thanks for sharing your wonderful website with the world.

Dick Makse

Dick, thanks for the email and the positive feedback. Below is part I concerning the "Hempstead Extension or Spur" of the Long Island Motor Parkway which was the planned road connecting the Parkway with Fulton Avenue (now Hempstead Turnpike).

A close-up of the ticket shows the "Motor Parkway" station listed after Garden City (Hempstead Crossing), Country Life and Hempstead. This is the only LIRR ticket that I ever seen that listed the Motor Parkway.

When the route for the Motor Parkway was being developed in 1907, it was planned that the Parkway would be connected to Fulton Avenue and Hempstead by a 1.3 spur road. As seen in this Belcher Hyde map, this extension headed south crossing Stewart Avenue and ending to the east of the Sidney Dillon Ripley estate.

February 1908 Survey

This survey indicated that the Town of Hempstead had a plan to extend California Avenue  (which still ends south of Fulton Avenue) to Old Country Road. Note the reference to the "Spur".

May 1909 Survey

The section of the extension from the Motor Parkway to Stewart Avenue was purchased from the heirs of the A.T. Stewart. The rectangular section adjacent to the Parkway provided enough property for a possible "Hempstead Lodge."

1928 Motor Parkway Atlas

The Motor Parkway Atlas included the "proposed extension to Hempstead" in 1928. The road was never built.

The relation between the spur and the Motor Parkway bridges and Meadow Brook Lodge.

A close-up of the atlas where the spur road crossed "the L.I.R.R -Old Stewart Line."

Three Aerials Showing the Motor Parkway, the Central Extension Railroad and the Possible Location of the "Motor Parkway" Station

Then: September 29, 1931

Then: November 5, 1931

Then: November 24, 1931

Then: October 12, 1936

A train on the Central Branch! The train would be located in the middle of Eisenhower Park in East Meadow today.

Now: The Hempstead Extension

The 1.3 mile spur from the Motor Parkway to the Hempstead Turnpike as seen by Google Map.

This is the most northern section of the spur matching the property seen in the May 1909 survey.

This is the approximate location of the Motor Parkway station later the Mitchel Field station. The track is still active for the rare freight train and the Ringling Brothers Circus trains.

A nearby  abandoned track that took freight to Mitchel Field.

Many of the Mitchel Field's officers housing is still standing. Part Two will be posted later this week.


Sep 15 2013 Howard Kroplick 3:20 PM

From Dick Makse:

“Remember, while this was listed as a “station”, it was likely only a cinder platform and a small lean-to shelter since the trains that served “Motor Parkway” later Camp Mills were one-car trolleys (1916-1928) that were powered by third rail. A one or two commuter type cars (more like a subway car) served the line from 1928 to 1949 when they were replaced with more traditional LIRR commuter cars; all these were powered by third rail. The service to Mitchel Field ended in 1953.

Longer trains did serve the line during both World Wars for troop movements.”

Sep 15 2013 R Troy 10:28 PM

As much as I love to hear about Motor Parkway and an assortment of great cars from long ago, I find it fascinating to learn about LIRR history, and all the long since forgotten lines and stations and spurs!

Sep 16 2013 S. Berliner, III 12:40 AM

S(idney). Dillon Ripley, 1913-2001, was Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution from 1964 to 1984.  His great-grandfather, Sidney Dillon, was President of the Union Pacific Railroad.  Might one assume that “your” Sidney Dillon Ripley was his father?  Also, mayhap I’m asleep at the switch but what is the ‘28 Atlas’s designation “Mon Set”, please?  Sam, III

Sep 16 2013 Howard Kroplick 10:29 AM

Sam III, you may be correct about the Ripley family.

“Mon Set” on these surveys indicate the location and date where a survey monument was placed.

Howard I

Sep 16 2013 Ted 4:21 PM

I say again,you guys are amazing on how much you know on all of this,and thanks for all the info on it

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