Day 405

Beneath the Lower Montauk

February 7th, 2013

Above me is the old Richmond Hill station on the LIRR Lower Montauk Branch. Passenger service at Richmond Hill and the four other intermediate stops on this line between Jamaica and Long Island City was canceled in 1998, due to exceptionally low use: two of the stops had only one regular rider per day. Richmond Hill was the only one of the five that even remotely resembled a railroad station, as illustrated by these hard-to-believe photos from the 1990s showing the stops "in all their pathetic glory." Many nearby residents were not aware that the stations existed; apparently, they weren't even marked by signs until 1993. One rider recalls:

I had NO IDEA there was a station there. The first time I used the station, I used it from Patchogue, and then got off at Fresh Pond, and then of course you just follow the stairs and then the maze of a pathway to the street. If you were told to wait there, people would have thought you were nuts, as no one would have expected that to actually be a "station". i couldn't even imagine a woman waiting there alone for a train. It's not a bad neighborhood, but it's so desolate down there, that it would have been an invitation for problems.

To top it all off, it was extremely fun waiting for trains there at Fresh Pond in the winter....when the days were short, and it was dark by 5:00 (the trains stopped at 5:06 and about 5:30 in the afternoon), it was PITCH black down there, no lighting at all, just the faint glow of street lights on Metropolitan Ave above. Then you heard the horn blasting, and finally out of the darkness a bright light would blind you as your eyes weren't used to light by that point. The train blasted through with it's horn and head light, and it was like satan himself had arrived for you.....
In recent years, passenger service on the Lower Montauk had fallen to just about the bare minimum: a single train each weekday morning. And now, as of a few months ago, the LIRR has stopped making passenger runs on the line altogether, leaving only freight trains to travel its tracks.

UPDATE: The scene in Goodfellas where a couple of kids discover Johnny Roastbeef and his wife murdered in their new pink Cadillac was filmed beneath the tracks here, about half a block up from where I took this photo. Take a look.


  1. Steve says:

    I rode it once, just because. It was served by ancient cars pulled by a diesel. Outside of summer there was no ventilation. Just electric heat running along the floor. There were no PA announcements. The train would just suddenly stop in the middle of nowhere. If you were to get off you’d have go down the steps and then jump a good foot to the ground. Approching Richmond Hill the conductor had to flip metal plates to cover the steps. I’ve wondered if the LIRR kept these stops on the schedule because each “station” qualified it for funding from the MTA. Then that formula changed.

  2. Steve says:

    I recall that not long after they closed Richmond Hill was prepared for reuse in the event of a strike by Amtrak. If Amtrak went on strike then the LIRR couldn’t use the East River tunnels. Riders could then use Richmond Hill and walk to the J train or stay on to the end of the line, Long Island City and pick up the 7 train.

  3. tom says:

    just reading the discription given in the article above makes me regret never have taken that line!

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