Long Island Rail Road
Jules P. Krzenski
I remember visiting my maternal grandmother in Brooklyn, riding the Long
Island Railroad from Southampton...where I was born and raised...to the
Flatbush Avenue Terminal in the borough that was then the home of the Brooklyn
Dodgers. The phrase of the day,
back then, was the unforgettable “Change at
If you were headed for
you changed from the steam train to the electric MU train, usually by just
crossing the high-level platform.
The run from
was fairly short...most of it involving the subway-like tunnel.
the other hand, you were
bound, you simply stayed in your seat, while the Pennsylvania Railroad K4s
Pacific was replaced by a Long Island Railroad DD1 electric engine.
In the coming years, I would learn what those engines were.
But at that time, they were simply ‘steam’ and ‘electric’.
The big K4s Pacific engines were actually owned by the
RR...and were assigned to the LIRR.
PRR DD1 Prime Mover Photo: R. Glueck
The heavy-weight, Tuscan Red, passenger equipment, that was used on the
Montauk trains at that time...with the exception of the ‘Fisherman’s
Special’...made the run completely between Montauk and Penn Station, in
Only the power would “Change at
That ‘Fisherman’s Special’ will be mentioned in detail later on!
though I didn’t know what to call them at the time, except that they were
electric, those DD1 locomotives fascinated me no end!
When returning home, after a visit, we would get off the electric MU
and then make sure we had the correct platform for the track on which the
Montauk train would be arriving from Penn Station.
Usually it would be the outside track, farthest from the multi-story
station/headquarters building on
8. After a short wait, a
big K4s Pacific...with the gold letters spelling ‘PENNSYLVANIA’ on its tender...would drift by on Track 8, moving slowly, bell
constantly ringing. The fireman
would usually be relaxing, with both arms on his armrest, casually looking at
the people on the platform. The
engine would continue past the east end of the platforms, move through a
crossover, and wait beside Track 8.
That would be our power for the trip home.
afterward, the station announcer would start with “Train for Montauk on Track
Track 8!” Then as he listed
the stops, finally ending with “Hampton
Amagansett...and Montauk...train on Track 8!”, the
DD1, bringing the train from Penn Station would come in beside the high-level
platform. Its bell would be
ringing, those huge electric motors inside the twin
bodies providing their distinctive sound, and those heavy jackshafts and side
rods would be softly clanking. Memories!
Pennsy K4s Pacific would always get my undivided
attention, as it moved slowly by.
But those DD1 electrics seemed to have a personality all their own!
Their arrival with the train from
Manhattan was always one of the high points of our homeward bound trip!
Back then, I wasn’t yet aware of their historical
importance...traceable back to the PRR’s early
operations between Manhattan Transfer, in
to Penn Station. All I knew, then,
was that I loved to watch, and listen, as the DD1 arrived on Track 8!
portion on those roundtrips to visit my grandmother created some memories that
I guess will always be with me. As
that big K4s started the train out of each station, and began accelerating, I
could always feel a very perceptible tugging action on the train.
I always noticed that the tugging seemed to match the four beat exhaust
of the engine up ahead. It would
be several years, though, before I would understand that interesting
sensation. Remember now...I was
not yet knowledgeable about such things!
time we boarded the train at
I always made sure we sat on the left side and, naturally, I was next to the
window! We also had to be at least
three or four cars back from the engine.
Why? Because just west of
Oakdale, there was a long, sweeping, and highly banked, reverse curve.
Westbound, the track curved and banked to the left, while passing over
River on a low concrete bridge.
If I pressed the left side of my head against the window, I could see the K4s
up ahead, leaning into the curve...with the fireman usually in plain sight,
leaning slightly out of his window on his armrest.
At the same time, I also enjoyed watching the side rods in motion.
It would also be several years before I would understand why that
vision of the fireman leaning on his armrest, and those heavy side rods in
motion, always stirred such a strong emotion in me.
leaning of the engine and train on the left hand curve, would gradually
change, and the engine would begin to lean towards the right and disappear
from sight, as we went through the second half of the reverse curve.
The train would immediately go under the concrete bridge that carried
over the railroad. Then there was
a long straight stretch, as we went over a grade crossing and past the Great
River Station without stopping. At
this point, there was a street, closely paralleling the tracks on the left
side, and extending for some distance past the Great River Station.
That street had a thickly wooded area all along the opposite side, for
almost its entire distance, before abruptly turning away from the railroad.
did I know then that this street was named
that the area, west of
River, was part of
and that, many years later, a portion of that wooded area would be the site of
the home of Mr and Mrs
J.P Krzenski...and their six kids!!!