Historical Views of the Rockaways
From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke
The Raunt bay colony takes it’s name from the Raunt Channel, which runs diagonally (southwest to northeast) through the marshes of Jamaica Bay. The Raunt Channel surrounds the Raunt community on three sides (north, east and south) and a narrow/shallow creek on the west side made the Raunt a marsh island in itself. There are a couple of other origins for the name of the Raunt Channel that are worth making note of.
Scandinavian fisherman fished the waters of our Jamaica Bay in the New York areas early years, as well as the Dutch, English and Native Americans. Many Bay Locale names can be traced to Scandinavian origins. The Danish word “rogen,” pronounced “raun” translates to fish roe, and this part of the bay was a spawning ground for lots of fish. But where did the “t” come from?
The Swedish word “rund” pronounced “runt” is the one that I favor. Webster’s Swedish Dictionary defines “rund” as around/in and around/here, there and everywhere. Before the landfill for the bird sanctuary by the “Pharoah” Robert Moses, one could get anywhere in the bay via Raunt Channel.
After the railroad over the bay opened, squatters put up fishing stations and boat rental floats on both sides of the trestle at the Raunt. The railroad didn’t seem to care as more riders meant revenue. Anglers getting off at the Raunt steadily increased during the first seven years. The LIRR, which now owned the bay railroad, decided to put up a station in 1888. A section of the right of way, 300’ x 48’, was leased to Christopher Murr or Muir and Elbert J. Kaltenbach, both of New York City, for ten years. The lease stipulated that these men would build a station and platform, and a large fishing station. This they did and the LIRR put the stop on its timetable. The first bona fide leases at the Raunt were issued to James S. Williamson and Michael Hahn or Hann. These gentlemen were neighbors at the Raunt at the southwest corner alongside the trestle. The Raunt Station was on the southwest side opposite Williamson and Hann.
In 1894 a listing for the Raunt told of the Patterson Fishing Club, Hann’s Liquors, Hann’s Boats and Phil Schappert’s Boats.
In 1900, Flynn’s establishment was pulled out by winter ice, and the Co-Operative Society/Bay Trolley schemers were issuing eviction notices for people on their right of way. They issued a few leases to William Gralz of New York and the Dolphin Club. In 1902 the society issued leases to Richard Shoemaker of New York, at Swift Creek (west of the station), next to Cooper and Colbert. Mary V. Meeteer took over the Hann operation at the station. At the same time about fourteen leases were said to have been issued by the City Docks Department, shortly thereafter the trolley project died and the city had full control over the bay. Two years later, a James Jordan built a home, and two years after that, a huge fire almost destroyed the Raunt.
Lost to the fire were Schwind’s Hotel, Vigilant Yacht Club, Liberty Island Rod and Gun Club, and part of the trestle.
Rebuilding started as soon as possible, and by 1907 there were 16 structures at the Raunt, and this soared to 88 and then 100 leases at the exclusive Raunt Colony.
Later in 1915, the Raunt Marsh was leased to Pierre Noel, and all residents had to now sign on with Noel’s Broad Channel Corporation.
When Crossbay Road opened in 1926, the Raunt lost exclusive status; the place could now be reached by a road from Crossbay and a footbridge.
The colony suffered a great loss by fire in 1931, and by 1938 only one hundred people were recorded on a census.
As the mid-1950’s approached, only fifteen structures were left, and the area was razed for the west pond of the Bird Sanctuary built in the area (R.I.P).
Again I was fortunate enough to find a 1908 list of lessees at the Raunt at the open house of the Broad Channel Historical Society.
The lessees are as follows:
J.V. Dunleavy, Edward H. Muir, William Grolz, Dolphin Club, M.J. Sullivan, Mrs. William H. Murray, Hamilton Club, Adam Straub, Joe Endres, Fred Lumm, Fidelia Fishing Club, Warren Cornell, W. Ross Martin, M.D., White Star Rod And Gun Club, William C. Liebfried, Concord Launch Club, Matthew Sullivan, Conrad Beller, Bruce Stickle, Kensington Rod And Gun Club, J.G. Truelson, Silah H. Hitchcock, C.H. Watts and last but not least Mary V. Meeteer.