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Exploring the Abandoned LIRR Train Tracks

A possible location for Queen's Highline

Story by Danish Mujeeb November 14th, 2016

It's Been Years

Somewhere in the Forest Park in Queens, there is one of the best kept secret of the borough, a set of LIRR abandoned railway tracks. I always wanted to know how the tracks looked like before The Highline became the Highline. My wish came true at this section of the park, where some of the old tracks are exposed. Judging from some of the small trees growing between the tracks, the've been abandoned for a long time.

The tracks have been abandoned for years! Not only do you find treed fallen over on top of the tracks, there are small to medium sized trees growing in between the tracks. Hence, they have see absolutely no use since they were abandoned

It's been years. Tress dead and alive are all over the tracks
A rail tunneling through nature

These pictures were taken on a Saturday morning, where the sun had just started shining through the trees to light up the foliage and the tracks.

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Disappearing Into Nature

In some sections, you can find the tracks simply disappearing into nature, as if they didn't exist at all. The first picture shows the tracks simply disappearing into the ground. This felt more man made to me. However, the second picture shows the tracks simply disappearing into a dense mix of trees and shrubs.

Tracks disappearing into the ground
Tracks disappearing into trees and shrubs

Built Like a Tank

Despite being abandoned for such a long time, the core tracks are still rock solid and straight as an arrow. The core structure, i.e. the supporting planks and the tracks bolted on to them are still pretty solid. There is no wear or tear on the actual steel alloy tracks and I couldn't find any miss-alignment of the tracks either.

Core tracks still intact
The steel alloy tracks don't show any signs of wear or tear
Tracks still run straight as an arrow

Third Rail Lost to Time

It looks like there was a third rail, which was continuously covered by a wooden plank. I'm guessing it provided a source of electrical power to the trains, similar to the new New York City subway system. However, it looks like the third rail's supporting top infrastructure was not able to stand the test of time.

A visible piece of the broken third rail
Broken pieces of the third rail can be found at several points on the track
Closeup of one of the metal braces holding the top part of the third rail

Signs of Human Intervention

Despite the sheer beauty and the immense takeover of the site by nature, there are still signs of human intervention, and that too not in a good way. Pieces of trash can be seen all over in addition to graffiti at several points on the track.

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Graffiti on the tracks
Forest Park, Queens, NY 11418