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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Not Cowboy Spurs but Sheepshead Bay Race Track Spur

I came across a track map drawn by B.Linder and published in the New York Division Bulletin on page 2, in their July 2003 edition (Vol. 46, No 7) showing the Sheepshead Bay Race Track Spur.  Many Brooklynites and those who are interested in rapid transit and rapid transit history do not know about this spur.  Up to around ten years ago, a passenger in our present day "B" or "Q" trains would look out of a north bound train to Manhattan in an easterly direction just south of the Neck Road station and they would see a curved wall at surface level.  This curved wall was destroyed to make way for modern housing and is probably all that remained of this spur.  According to the map, the sidings were removed between January and March, 1929.  I believe that this spur may have been under wire at this time as was the main line.  In short, the development of rapid transit in Brooklyn could be generally explained as follows:
  1. Steam Railroad on the surface (19th Century) Examples:  Culver, West End, Brighton Lines
  2. Steam Railroad on elevated line in business areas (Late 19th Century), Examples, 3rd Avenue and 5th Avenue Elevateds in Brooklyn and perhaps the Myrtle and Broadway Els as well.
  3. Steam Railroad on elevated line extended to suburban areas such as the Coney Island Area via the above right of ways. (Examples:  Culver, West End and Brighton Lines)
  4. Electrification of the the Elevated Lines and trolley wiring of their extentions on the surface (1890's to early 1900's).  Trolley wire strung on Gravesend Avenue, Brighton Line Right of Way, New Utrecht Avenue (West End Line).  Train cars had trolley poles and third rail shoes.
  5. Construction of the more modern elevateds with third rail and equipping private right of ways with grade separation and third rail power. (Around 1914:  Modern Sea Beach, Brighton Line, Culver Line and so on.
  6. Running modern subway equipment on new elevated structure and private right of ways such as the Sea Beach Line and Brighton Line using third rail power.
  7. Former right of way under new elevated structures retained trolley wire and tracks and was served by streetcar type of service at ground level. (Example, around after 1916, such as the Gravesend Avenue (McDonald Avenue Trolley), West End Trolley under the West End El on New Utrecht Avenue).
  8. Abandonment of streetcar service under elevated structures.  (For example, West End Trolley died in 1947, McDonald Trolley died in 1956.
  9. Abandonment of older elevated structures, such as the 3rd and 5 th Avenue Elevateds, Fulton Street Line, Lexington Avenue El (1940's to 1950).  Section of the Culver El abandoned in 1975.
It is possible that for a short period of time, dual mode service (trolley pole and third rail shoes) was operated at the eastern end of the Jamaica Elevated and the Metropolitan Avenue Line, but I am not sure.

According to the material I presented, logic would say that this Sheepshead Bay Race Track spur was operated under trolley wire because the Brighton Line line was not redesigned for third rail operation until after 1912.  Although not shown on the above diagram, there were two easterly tracks on the embankment  that was stream railroad operated by the Long Island Railroad.  Perhaps this spur was served by Long Island Railroad Stream trains?  But I am not sure.

Note:  The Neck Road station is presently on an embankment and probably was also prior to 1912.

Imagine a race track on Ocean Avenue?

More about this to follow:
Tramway Null(0)


  1. The Brighton Line on the embankment was third rail from the time it opened. When the Race Track branch was attached to the Brighton embankment, as depicted in the track diagram, it was also third rail.

  2. Dear The Rat in Room 101:

    Thanks for your clarification. I was not sure if the race track branch was trolley or third rail powered or both.
    Thanks again,
    Tramway Null(0)