Ocean Electric Railway

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Ocean Electric Railway
Type Streetcar
Locale The Rockaways
Termini Neponsit
Far Rockaway
Opened 1898
Closed 1928
Operator(s) Long Island Rail Road
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Minimum radius (?)
Electrification Overhead wires (1898-1905)
Third Rail and Batteries (1911-1928)

The Ocean Electric Railway was a street car line that operated on The Rockaways. It ran parallel to parts of the Rockaway Beach Branch and Far Rockaway Branch of the Long Island Rail Road. The headquarters of the OER were at the Far Rockaway–Mott Avenue subway station, which at the time was an LIRR station.


The Ocean Electric Railway originated as the replacement for the Rockaway Village Railroad. Like the RVR it was a Street Railway. It was chartered on April 28, 1897, although trolley services on the Rockaway Peninsula date as far back as 1881. On March 18, 1898, the LIRR bought the Far Rockaway Railroad, a 1.1 mile horse-car line, and integrated it into the Ocean Electric.

The purpose of the system was to create a rapid-transit link between the New York and Rockaway Beach Railroad, and the Far Rockaway Branch, formerly owned by the South Side Railroad of Long Island. Both were steam-operated railroads and required a quick connection, although electrification of the Rockaway Beach Branch began on July 26, 1905,[1] and electrification of the Far Rockaway Branch began on December 11, 1905[2]

In June 1904, a third (middle) track was built between Far Rockaway and Hammels and trolley cars began running in the street from Fairview Avenue, Hammels to Rockaway Park.

Between 1905 and 1911, the LIRR began the transition from overhead wires to third rail power collection cars for the OER on the portions of track it shared with the LIRR's suburban trains between Far Rockaway and Hammels. In October 1905, the LIRR's outside tracks were fitted with third rails and electric train service began to Far Rockaway. Beginning in 1910, third rail was installed on the middle track for the new Pennsylvania Station service. Third rail shoes were on the trolley cars and in 1911 the system ceased to run on overhead wires. Ocean Electric Service was extended to Belle Harbor in 1915, and Neponsit at Beach 149th Street on June 8, 1916, unlike the Long Island Rail Road which only went as far as Rockaway Park.

With the exception of those west of Rockaway Park Station and those on Rockaway Beach Boulevard between Arverne and Rockaway Park, most trolley stops were shared with Long Island Railroad stations. Others, such as Frank Avenue Station became LIRR stations in 1922. As trolley service began to decline at the end of World War I, the LIRR prepared to remove involvement with trolleys. The Roche's Beach Branch was abandoned in 1924, the segment east of Hammels was abandoned in 1926, and the remaining section was abandoned in 1928.


Name From To Route Notes
Hammels Neponsit Rockaway Beach Boulevard from Beach 75th Street to Beach 116th Street, north to Newport Avenue, west to Beach 142nd Street to Neponsit Avenue to west of Beach 149th Street. Built from 1904-1916; abandoned October 25, 1928
now Q22 and Q35
Hammels Hammels Beach Hammels Wye; South Leg along Beach 84th Street (formerly Fairview Avenue). abandoned
Far Rockaway Hammels Long Island Rail Road on the original LIRR tracks shared with LIRR trains Far Rockaway Branch then down Beach 84th Street to join the Rockaway Beach Boulevard line. abandoned September 9, 1926
now New York City Subway's IND Rockaway Line
Far Rockaway Roche's Beach Long Island Rail Road original Far Rockaway station at Mott Avenue, south on Central Avenue (now Beach 20th Street to New Haven and Brookhaven Avenue, then south on Rockaway Turnpike (now Beach 19th Street) to Roche's Beach, just south of today's Seagirt Boulevard abandoned September 14, 1924


General References

  • "The Long Island Rail Road: A Comprehensive History Volume #5 (New York, Woodhaven & Rockaway Railroad; New York & Rockaway Beach railway; New York & Long Beach Railroad; New York & Rockaway railroad; Brooklyn rapid transit operation to Rockaway; Over L.I.R.R.)", by Vincent F. Seyfried

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