July 2014 Union Strike

A tentative deal between the MTA and LIRR Unions to avert a July Strike has been reached. See this post for more information.

Wednesday, May 29

Interlocking Walkthrough: GARDEN

This week's interlocking walkthough takes us deep into the one of the NIMBYest areas of Long Island--Garden City.  GARDEN interlocking, located 18.7 miles from Long Island City, is where the Hemptead Branch goes from two tracks to one and where the Garden-Mitchell Secondary begins.  Here's a bird's eye view of the location.

So basically, from the point where the the Hempstead Branch begins in QUEENS interlocking to Garden City the Hempstead Branch is two tracks.  Once the train leaves Garden City, it encounters GARDEN interlocking.

After leaving the station and proceeding east, Hempstead Branch track 2 merges into Hempstead Track 1.

There is then another switch that splits the Hempstead Branch off to the right towards Country Life Press and Hempstead, and the Garden-Mitchell Secondary, which keeps on going straight.  Right after this switch is the Franklin Avenue grade-crossing (which must've gotten left out of the diagram by mistake).

Going off to the right, the interlocking ends shortly before entering Country Life Press.  Going straight onto the Garden-Mitchell Secondary, the interlocking ends just before the third rail does.  I'll make a separate post on the Garden-Mitchell Secondary and it's current role in LIRR operations (and what I have in mind for its future role...).  But if your scratching your head and thinking "where have I heard this before?", this is the very same secondary track that the Circus Train uses when it comes to town each year.

The Garden-Mitchell Secondary goes back to two tracks shortly after Washington Avenue, however that switch is not a part of GARDEN interlocking.

Also included in this general area, but not included on the diagram because there are currently no tracks left there, is the former West Hempstead Branch crossing.  Many moons ago, the West Hempstead Branch used to continue north from its current terminal in West Hempstead, intersect the Hempstead Branch here, then continue north to Mineola, where it would rejoin the mainline there.  If you take a look at the bird's eye view you can see where the tracks used to be.  I'll have more on the Former West Hempstead Branch in another post on another day.

GARDEN interlocking has the old LIRR-standard position light signals.  They are all mounted on the sides of the track and there are no gantries at this location (wouldn't want to displease those NIMBY's).

There are no towers at this location, though there might've been back in the day when this area was a whole lot busier with the Hempstead Crossing and old West Hempsted Branch.  Today, everything is controlled from QUEENS tower, near Queens Village station to the west.

QUEENS interlocking, where the Hempstead Branch joins the Mainline, is the nearest interlocking to the west.  GARDEN is the easternmost interlocking on the Hempstead Branch, as all the switches and such into Hempstead station are hand-thrown and not interlocked.

The Speed Limit west of here is 70 m.p.h..  However, at the eastern limit of the interlocking, the speed limit drops down to 30 m.p.h. for the rest of the trip to Hempstead.  The speed of Hempstead trains are further restricted going around that curve into Country Life Press Station.  There is a 15 m.p.h. permanent speed restriction at that location.


  1. There's 2 crossings omitted in Garden Int., Franklin Ave and a pedestrian/parking lot crossing east thereof. Franklin is east of where the 2 tracks trail into one, and has both the secondary and hempstead main in it's path. On the west side of the crossing between the building and the track was a small white building that had a sign that Garden. This was the last tower to stand there, and was torn down in the early 2000's. Up until its demolition it had a spiffy little garden in front of it and was used by signal and track for it's heat and toilet. It was very small, just big enough for 2 people, a small EP machine which was visible (minus it's levers) until the end. It was a quiet, laid back job beloved by operators who wanted a slow job with a heck of a view. The job was eliminated in the early '90s when it was remoted to Queens. It was quiet, giving orders only if there was a bad crossing west on the Branch, although the op had to get out to throw the switch for the secondary if a freight or work train showed up. There had been several other towers in the vicinity, usually in the middle of the double wye visible on Google maps, look up on Arrt's Archives for the specifics...

  2. The link to the Bing map is a great resource with all of those interlockings listed in the "My places editor". It would be fantastic to list all of the interlockings, stations and other points of interest!

    PS - I just found your website yesterday. This is a great site! I've been a fan of trains (and the LIRR) since the early 80s when my dad used to schlep me along on his commute from Port Wash to Penn on "take your child to work" days. I'd insist we sit in the first car, and I'd spend the entire ride with my nose pressed against the glass at the front of an M1.

    1. Whoops. I posted that before I saw the Map Center section over to the right. Thanks for being a few steps ahead of me!


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