2005-04-29 / Community

Historical Views of the Rockaways

Goose Creek, Jamaica Bay - 1895
From The Rockaway Museum by Emil Lucev, Curator Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

From The Rockaway Museum
by Emil Lucev, Curator
Dedicated To The Memory Of Leon S. Locke

Today’s Historical Views is another of Dr. Philleo’s photographs taken from an LIRR train, and this time we have a grand close up look at the Goose Creek LIRR station and fishing Mecca for anglers in Jamaica Bay.

The train has just left the station, heading eastbound or south, to The Raunt station, Broad Channel, and then over the bay to Rockaway. In the background is Grassy Bay and Howard Beach. The area known as Howard Estates, on he bay and also attached to the LIRR trestle, was two years away.

From the railroad’s opening in 1880 till 1888, trains just stopped on the trestle to let anglers off. Available to these lovers of the sport of fishing were the meager facilities set up by so called squatters, who rented boats, sold bait, supplied refreshment as well as supplies – for a price.

The condition was such that in 1888, the LIRR leased both sides of the trestle right of way at Goose Creek to Phillip Schappert of New York with the covenant that he build a train station, waiting room, a platform on both sides, a first class hotel and a fishing station.

Eleven years later there were six clubhouses, two saloons and one hotel. Signs such as Amphion Fishing Club, Lexington Fishing Club, Pioneer Fishing Club, Babcock’s Boats, Schappert’s Boats, Hesbach’s Boats and Patterson’s Boats were observed by anglers, coming to Goose Creek, famous for weakfishing all over the New York region. In later years, Joe Paul’s Place became popular at Goose Creek.

Shown in the 1895 photo published today, beginning on the left, Phil Schappert’s Hotel, the train station and waiting rooms, and Schappert’s Fishing Station. On the right or east side are the Amphion Fishing Club; Babcock’s Boats beside it; The Lexington Fishing Club; and The Pioneer Fishing Club – reported to be the oldest club here. Schappert also owned and least out the Amphion Club.

The speed of the train and slow shutter speed on the camera makes it appear as if the trestle was covered like a platform.

By the time Cross Bay road came there were 38 structures at Goose Creek, residential and commercial, but it has been said that prohibition which banned the sale of alcoholic beverages, and, loss of exclusive status (only reached by railroad) caused Goose Creek to slowly disappear. The bay hamlets on stilts were often said to be a Smuggler’s Paradise during the dry years of 1919-1933.

The pollution of Jamaica Bay by raw sewage dumped into it by the city, and the constant dredging of the Bay bottom for deep channels and the perimeter landfill (for greed and profit) and not to forget landfills in the heart of Goose Creek and the Raunt. Increasing ferocity of summer and winter storms, and fires of unknown origin didn’t help either. Higher tides and winter ice pulling out pile supports did much damage also: and last but not least, the changing lifestyles and tastes of a younger generation was setting in and by 1940 Goose Creek was a memory!

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