Todd's Railfan Guide to

In General
Getting Here
Under the Viaduct


In General

Location / Name:
Queens Borough of New York City, AKA, Queens County

What's Here:
Hell Gate Bridge and its approaches

GPS Coordinates: as needed

Access by train/transit:
Take your pick: the New York City/MTA Subway Q and N lines, and the Bus system

The Scoop:

Websites and other additional information sources of interest for the area:
A tri

Aerial shots were taken from either Google Maps or www.bing.com/maps as noted.  Screen captures are made with Snagit, a Techsmith product... a great tool if you have never used it! 


Getting Here

Getting to G



Below, composite USGS map from 1889, before Hell Gate bridge was built


Hell Gate Bridge

Probably the most famous "thing" in New York City, train wise.  Maybe more so than the train stations in Manhattan?  Most people think of Hell Gate Bridge when someone mentions trains and Queens NY.  If you get to see the bridge in person, you will be impressed and never forget how massive a bridge it actually is.  And this includes the approaches to it on both sides.  The approaches more or less divide the neighborhoods they go through.  The bridge has been made famous in the model world by both Lionel and MTH.

The bridge holds a special place in my heart, because as a kid spending summers with my grandparents in Jackson Heights, on the top floor of their apartment building, I had a most excellent view of the bridge and the approach to it.  This was during the late 50's and through the 60's into the Penn Central era.  I watched the New Haven freights being pulled by the behemoth EF-4 (E33's) electric engines, and then later once Penn Central took over, Alco DL-701's, or RS-11's.  I wish I had (any) picture of two freights passing each other on the approach, it was a sight to behold.  The E33's I believe, are the only engine to wear the colors of five class 1 railroads: the Virginian, the Norfolk & Western, the New Haven, Penn Central, and finally Conrail.  One is saved in Roanoke VA at the Virginia Railroad Museum.  When the Virginian had them, they were EL-C's, the New Haven called them EF-4's, and the Penn Central called them E33's.

I wonder what it would cost to build the bridge and the approaches today?

The Ditmars Blvd station under the Hell Gate approach in Astoria.



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Under the Viaduct

I always loved taking a ride up to Ditmars Blvd, and wasting time hoping to catch a New Haven freight or a speeding Pennsy passenger train going over.  New York City was a great place for a railfan to grow up!

R-160B cars at Astoria-Ditmars Blvd.  Photo taken by Brian Weinberg, 8/27/2007.

Date: 10/23/1976, Car: R-10 (American Car & Foundry, 1948) 3298, Photo by: Doug Grotjahn, Collection of: Joe Testagrose

Date: 10/23/1976, Car: R-10 (American Car & Foundry, 1948) 3298, Photo by: Doug Grotjahn, Collection of: Joe Testagrose
If you notice above, by 1976, the wires had been removed from the two New Haven freight tracks.....



Lionel's Version 1

Lionel produced the original model 300 from 1928 to 1933, and it carried the part number 6-32999.  If you can find an original one, it's in the $500-$3000 price range depending on condition.  Two versions were made, one was cream and green, the other was cream and silver.


An ad from: http://moira.meccahosting.com/~a000072b/300hg.htm




Pictures from: http://www.dakotapaul.com/items/showitem.asp?iid=2017

Lionel's Version 2

Lionel made a second run and called it a model 305 in 1999-2000.  Lionel also made "matching" boxcars in 1999, offering them in the same two color schemes.

Although not Lionel or MTH made, are these custom made steel bridge piers to accompany the bridge:


MTH's Version


I love trains, and I love signals.  I am not an expert.  My webpages reflect what I find on the topic of the page.  This is something I have fun with while trying to help others.  My webpages are an attempt at putting everything I can find of the subject in one convenient place.  There are plenty of other good websites to help me in this effort, and they are listed in the links section on my indexa page, or as needed on individual pages.  Please do not write to me about something that may be incorrect, and then hound the heck out of me if I do not respond to you in the manner you would like.  I operate on the "Golden Rule Principle", and if you are not familiar with it, please acquaint yourself with how to treat people by reading Mathew 7:12 (among others, the principle exists in almost every religion).  If you contact me (like some do, hi Paul) and try to make it a "non-fun" thing and start with the name calling, your name will go into my spambox list! :-)

Please Note:  Since the main focus of my two websites is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  For those of you into the modeling aspect of our hobby, my indexa page has a list of almost everything railroad oriented I can think of to provide you with at least a few pictures to help you detail your pike.

If this is a railfan page, every effort has been made to make sure that the information contained on this map and in this railfan guide is correct.  Once in a while, an error may creep in, especially if restaurants or gas stations open, close, or change names.  Most of my maps are a result of personal observation after visiting these locations.  I have always felt that a picture is worth a thousand words", and I feel annotated maps such as the ones I work up do the same justice for the railfan over a simple text description of the area.  Since the main focus of my website is railroad signals, the railfan guides are oriented towards the signal fan being able to locate them.  Since most of us railheads don't have just trains as a hobby, I have also tried to point out where other interesting sites of the area are.... things like fire stations, neat bridges, or other significant historical or geographical feature.  While some may feel they shouldn't be included, these other things tend to make MY trips a lot more interesting.... stuff like where the C&O Canal has a bridge going over a river (the Monocacy Aqueduct) between Point of Rocks and Gaithersburg MD, it's way cool to realize this bridge to support a water "road" over a river was built in the 1830's!!!  

My philosophy: Pictures and maps are worth a thousand words, especially for railfanning.  Text descriptions only get you so far, especially if you get lost or disoriented.  Take along good maps.... a GPS is OK to get somewhere, but maps are still better if you get lost!  I belong to AAA, which allows you to get local maps for free when you visit the local branches.  ADC puts out a nice series of county maps for the Washington DC area, but their state maps do not have the railroads on them.  If you can find em, I like the National Geographic map book of the U.S..... good, clear, and concise graphics, and they do a really good job of showing you where tourist type attractions are, although they too lack the railroads.  Other notes about specific areas will show up on that page if known.

By the way, floobydust is a term I picked up 30-40 years ago from a National Semiconductor data book, and means miscellaneous and/or other stuff.

Pictures and additional information is always needed if anyone feels inclined to take 'em, send 'em, and share 'em, or if you have something to add or correct.... credit is always given! BE NICE!!! Contact info is here

Beware: If used as a source, ANYTHING from Wikipedia must be treated as being possibly being inaccurate, wrong, or not true.


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NEW 07/06/2016
Last Modified 13-Jul-2016