Snug Harbor / Livingston

The rail line ran along the coast of Kill van Kull in front of Snug Harbor and into the neighborhood of Livingston. The topography of the area necessitated running the line directly along the coastline and large portions of the ROW have eroded. The erosion in the 1980s made the line impassible just prior to abandonment in 1990.

The coastline just west of Atlantic Salt was home to a skate park that had long been abandoned when I visited in 2009. There was a complex array of wooden boardwalks in various states of disrepair that presented a curious juxtaposition of abandoned rail, wooden structures, and plant growth.

Abandoned skate park
11/20/2009 03:02 PM
Abandoned skate park
Abandoned skate park
11/20/2009 03:02 PM
Abandoned skate park
Vestigial rail in skate park
11/20/2009 03:02 PM
Vestigial rail in skate park
Abandoned skate park
11/20/2009 03:02 PM
Abandoned skate park
Vestigial rail in skate park
11/20/2009 03:04 PM
Vestigial rail in skate park
Abandoned wrecked car
11/20/2009 03:06 PM
Abandoned wrecked car
Overgrown pathway into park
11/20/2009 03:06 PM
Overgrown pathway into park
Homeless encampment
11/20/2009 03:07 PM
Homeless encampment
Vestigial rail
11/20/2009 03:08 PM
Vestigial rail
Wooden boardwalks
11/20/2009 03:10 PM
Wooden boardwalks
Park entrance
11/20/2009 03:11 PM
Park entrance
Broken park sign
11/20/2009 03:11 PM
Broken park sign
Abandoned park
11/20/2009 03:11 PM
Abandoned park
Abandoned park
11/20/2009 03:12 PM
Abandoned park

The Sailor's Snug Harbor station was on the coastline, accessed from ornate stone stairways at the west and east ends of the platform. The east end is near the front entry archway to Snug Harbor, with the rear end at Snug Harbor Road. Only the westbound track remains, with the eastbound track presumably on piers out over the coastline. The approximate length of the platform had been covered with an asphalt pathway when I visited in 2009. Reconstruction plans could relocate the station up closer to Richmond Terrace, leaving the coastline for a riverside park.

East entrance to Sailor's Snug Harbor station
11/20/2009 03:14 PM
East entrance to Sailor's Snug Harbor station
Sailor's Snug Harbor station
11/20/2009 03:15 PM
Sailor's Snug Harbor station
Stairway down to Snug Harbor station
11/20/2009 03:13 PM
Stairway down to Snug Harbor station
Stairway down to Snug Harbor station
11/20/2009 03:13 PM
Stairway down to Snug Harbor station
Snug Harbor entry arch on Richmond Terrace above the Snug Harbor station
11/20/2009 03:12 PM
Snug Harbor entry arch on Richmond Terrace above the Snug Harbor station
Dock on Kill van Kull
11/20/2009 03:13 PM
Dock on Kill van Kull
Dock on Kill van Kull
11/20/2009 03:14 PM
Dock on Kill van Kull
Single track to the west of Snug Harbor station
11/20/2009 03:14 PM
Single track to the west of Snug Harbor station
Coastline to the east of Snug Harbor station
11/20/2009 03:15 PM
Coastline to the east of Snug Harbor station
Single track headed east into abandoned park
11/20/2009 03:15 PM
Single track headed east into abandoned park
Single track headed east into abandoned park
11/20/2009 03:15 PM
Single track headed east into abandoned park
Track joint
11/20/2009 03:16 PM
Track joint
Track headed west with new waterside path
11/20/2009 03:16 PM
Track headed west with new waterside path
Retaining wall along track
11/20/2009 03:17 PM
Retaining wall along track
Track headed west
11/20/2009 03:17 PM
Track headed west
Path down to water
11/20/2009 03:17 PM
Path down to water
Passing tugboat
11/20/2009 03:18 PM
Passing tugboat
Flotsam on the shoreline
11/20/2009 03:18 PM
Flotsam on the shoreline
Path to shoreline
11/20/2009 03:19 PM
Path to shoreline
Pier remnant on shoreline
11/20/2009 03:19 PM
Pier remnant on shoreline
Pipe to something
11/20/2009 03:20 PM
Pipe to something
West entrance to Sailor's Snug Harbor station
11/20/2009 03:20 PM
West entrance to Sailor's Snug Harbor station
Vestigial bluestone path to westbound track?
11/20/2009 03:20 PM
Vestigial bluestone path to westbound track?
Pier remnant
11/20/2009 03:20 PM
Pier remnant
West entrance to Sailor's Snug Harbor station
11/20/2009 03:20 PM
West entrance to Sailor's Snug Harbor station
West entrance to Sailor's Snug Harbor station
11/20/2009 03:21 PM
West entrance to Sailor's Snug Harbor station
Pathway to the east
11/20/2009 03:21 PM
Pathway to the east
Already ADA compliant!
11/20/2009 03:21 PM
Already ADA compliant!
Track headed west
11/20/2009 03:21 PM
Track headed west
Vestigial concrete base of something
11/20/2009 03:22 PM
Vestigial concrete base of something

The line west of Snug Harbor was built on a wooden trestle that was then enclosed with a wooden retaining wall and backfilled with gravel. As the retaining decayed and collapsed, the rail line followed, leaving rails hanging precariously over what is left of the trestle.

Single track headed west from Snug Harbor
11/20/2009 03:22 PM
Single track headed west from Snug Harbor
Eroded track
11/20/2009 03:22 PM
Eroded track
Eroded track
11/20/2009 03:22 PM
Eroded track
Eroded track
11/20/2009 03:23 PM
Eroded track
Track and tie closeup
11/20/2009 03:23 PM
Track and tie closeup
Track closeup
11/20/2009 03:23 PM
Track closeup
Eroded gravel fill
11/20/2009 03:24 PM
Eroded gravel fill
Eroded gravel fill
11/20/2009 03:24 PM
Eroded gravel fill
Hanging track
11/20/2009 03:24 PM
Hanging track
Decayed retaining wall
11/20/2009 03:25 PM
Decayed retaining wall
Eroded track and flotsam
11/20/2009 03:25 PM
Eroded track and flotsam
Track and stump
11/20/2009 03:26 PM
Track and stump
Rusted track joint
11/20/2009 03:25 PM
Rusted track joint
Eroded track
11/20/2009 03:26 PM
Eroded track
Eroded track
11/20/2009 03:26 PM
Eroded track

A creek that runs through the west part of Snug Harbor empties into Kill van Kull through a culvert that still holds the track intact above it.

Track headed over drain
11/20/2009 03:26 PM
Track headed over drain
Eroded track
11/20/2009 03:27 PM
Eroded track
Drain tunnel
11/20/2009 03:27 PM
Drain tunnel
Track west of drain tunnel
11/20/2009 03:27 PM
Track west of drain tunnel
Decayed retaining wall looking east
11/20/2009 03:28 PM
Decayed retaining wall looking east
Under the rails
11/20/2009 03:28 PM
Under the rails
Track over drain tunnel
11/20/2009 03:28 PM
Track over drain tunnel
Drain tunnel
11/20/2009 03:29 PM
Drain tunnel
Track headed east from drain tunnel
11/20/2009 03:29 PM
Track headed east from drain tunnel
Eroded Track headed west from drain tunnel
11/20/2009 03:29 PM
Eroded Track headed west from drain tunnel
Creek headed north to Snug Harbor
11/20/2009 03:33 PM
Creek headed north to Snug Harbor

A maintained but forlorn memorial to the residents of Livingston that made the supreme sacrifice in WW-II sits just above the track along Richmond Terrace near Snug Harbor Road. Ironically, the memorial's now-remote location demonstrates how the geographic changes of time often lead us to forget things we should remember.

Livingston WW-II memorial
11/20/2009 03:33 PM
Livingston WW-II memorial
Livingston WW-II memorial
11/20/2009 03:34 PM
Livingston WW-II memorial
Livingston WW-II memorial
11/20/2009 03:34 PM
Livingston WW-II memorial

R.H. Tugs is an incongruously nice restaurant between the coast and Richmond Terrace at Snug Harbor Road. A portion of the eastbound track was restored behind the restaurant when the coastline was shored up to prevent the restaurant from falling into the water. However, rail buffs immediately realize it is a fake from the thin, pressure-treated ornamental wooden ties. Whatever was holding up the westbound track long ago eroded into the water.

R.H. Tugs
11/20/2009 03:36 PM
R.H. Tugs
Tracks behind R.H. Tugs
11/20/2009 03:36 PM
Tracks behind R.H. Tugs
Tracks behind R.H. Tugs
11/20/2009 03:36 PM
Tracks behind R.H. Tugs
Track closeup
11/20/2009 03:37 PM
Track closeup
Tracks headed east into oblivion
11/20/2009 03:37 PM
Tracks headed east into oblivion
Recoonstructed shoreline
11/20/2009 03:37 PM
Recoonstructed shoreline
Track behind R.H. Tugs
11/20/2009 03:38 PM
Track behind R.H. Tugs
Track headed west from R.H. Tugs
11/20/2009 03:38 PM
Track headed west from R.H. Tugs

Just to the west of R.H. Tugs, the Livingston station supposedly sat at the foot of Bard Avenue. There's a convenience store there, where track resumes its natural state and proceeds west.

Track behind convenience store
11/20/2009 03:39 PM
Track behind convenience store
Behind the convenience store
11/20/2009 03:39 PM
Behind the convenience store
Retaining wall behind the convenience store
11/20/2009 03:39 PM
Retaining wall behind the convenience store
Track under picnic table
11/20/2009 03:40 PM
Track under picnic table
Picnic table over track looking west
11/20/2009 03:44 PM
Picnic table over track looking west
DEP sewer overflow outlet sign
11/20/2009 03:40 PM
DEP sewer overflow outlet sign
The convenience store at Bard Ave
11/20/2009 03:41 PM
The convenience store at Bard Ave
Looking south at pleasant, old houses on Bard Ave.
11/20/2009 03:42 PM
Looking south at pleasant, old houses on Bard Ave.
Bard Ave. terminating at the track
11/20/2009 03:42 PM
Bard Ave. terminating at the track
Bard Ave. terminating at the track
11/20/2009 03:44 PM
Bard Ave. terminating at the track
Vestigial 3rd rail base?
11/20/2009 03:45 PM
Vestigial 3rd rail base?
Stump grown over track
11/20/2009 03:45 PM
Stump grown over track
Concrete column?
11/20/2009 03:45 PM
Concrete column?

Between Bard and Davis Avenues, the track procedes dramatically over another eroded section of fill. The area also features some concrete waterfront structures, perhaps having something to do with the sewer overflow outlet, or perhaps just the foundations of some long-defunct structures.

Track headed east
11/20/2009 03:46 PM
Track headed east
Concrete structure
11/20/2009 03:46 PM
Concrete structure
Concrete structure
11/20/2009 03:46 PM
Concrete structure
Concrete structure
11/20/2009 03:47 PM
Concrete structure
Track erosion continues
11/20/2009 03:46 PM
Track erosion continues
Track headed east past encroaching erosion
11/20/2009 03:47 PM
Track headed east past encroaching erosion
Second concrete structure
11/20/2009 03:47 PM
Second concrete structure
Second concrete structure
11/20/2009 03:50 PM
Second concrete structure
Eroded track
11/20/2009 03:47 PM
Eroded track
Eroded track
11/20/2009 03:48 PM
Eroded track
Under the track
11/20/2009 03:49 PM
Under the track
Brick conduit under track
11/20/2009 03:50 PM
Brick conduit under track
Brick conduit under track
11/20/2009 03:50 PM
Brick conduit under track
Between the tracks
11/20/2009 03:50 PM
Between the tracks
Track emerges from erosion
11/20/2009 03:51 PM
Track emerges from erosion
Track in weeds
11/20/2009 03:51 PM
Track in weeds
Track heads west into overgrowth
11/20/2009 03:52 PM
Track heads west into overgrowth
Track heads west
11/20/2009 03:52 PM
Track heads west
Power poles at Con Ed facility
11/20/2009 03:53 PM
Power poles at Con Ed facility
1925 electrical warehouse, Richmond Terrace btw Bard and Davis
11/20/2009 04:00 PM
1925 electrical warehouse, Richmond Terrace btw Bard and Davis
Richmond Terrace btw Bard and Davis
11/20/2009 04:08 PM
Richmond Terrace btw Bard and Davis

Snug Harbor was founded on 1801 bequest of farmland by Robert Richard Randall that was delayed by an extended dispute over the will. It finally opened in 1833 to provide a haven for "aged, decrepit and worn out sailors." Over the 19th century the facility expanded to 50 buildings housing over 900 residents from around the world. Residency and financial support declined in the mid 20th century. The few remaining residents were relocated to North Carolina in the 1960s. With the historic property falling into disrepair and being coveted by developers, the New York City Landmark's Commission got the facility listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 83-acre facility was purchased by the city in 1973 and transformed into the Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.

For a more detailed history of Snug Harbor, see Gerald J. Barry's The Sailors' Snug Harbor: 1801-2001

Snug Harbor entry sign
12/4/2009 11:50 AM
Snug Harbor entry sign
Greek Revival buildings in Snug Harbor
11/20/2009 03:11 PM
Greek Revival buildings in Snug Harbor
West entrance
12/4/2009 11:51 AM
West entrance
Site map
12/4/2009 11:53 AM
Site map
Statue
12/4/2009 11:53 AM
Statue
Buildings on Chapel Road
12/4/2009 11:54 AM
Buildings on Chapel Road
Governor's House
12/4/2009 11:55 AM
Governor's House
Cottage Road
12/4/2009 11:56 AM
Cottage Road
Greenhouse
12/4/2009 11:57 AM
Greenhouse
Arbor
12/4/2009 11:58 AM
Arbor
Connie Gretz Secret Garden tower
12/4/2009 12:00 PM
Connie Gretz Secret Garden tower
Administration office
12/4/2009 12:01 PM
Administration office

Just to the east of sits Neville House, a country residence built around 1770 by John Neville, a retired naval officer. In the 19th century it was used as a tavern that likely received much of its patronage from the retired sailors living next door. When I visited in 2009, it was in pretty bad shape.

Neville House
11/20/2009 02:59 PM
Neville House
Neville House
11/20/2009 03:00 PM
Neville House
Neville House
11/20/2009 03:00 PM
Neville House

The area of New Brighton near Snug Harbor is an area of pleasant, older single-family homes, becoming a little more dense and less affluent as you move west into Livingston and West Brighton.

Richmond Terrace at Westbury Ave
12/4/2009 12:06 PM
Richmond Terrace at Westbury Ave
Westbury Avenue
12/4/2009 12:07 PM
Westbury Avenue
Westbury Avenue
12/4/2009 12:07 PM
Westbury Avenue
Large houses on Richmond Terrace at Kissel Ave
12/4/2009 12:09 PM
Large houses on Richmond Terrace at Kissel Ave
Davis Ave. north of Richmond Terrace
12/4/2009 12:14 PM
Davis Ave. north of Richmond Terrace
Richmond Terrace at Pelton
12/4/2009 12:14 PM
Richmond Terrace at Pelton
Richmond Terrace at Pelton
12/4/2009 12:15 PM
Richmond Terrace at Pelton
Richmond Terrace at Pelton
12/4/2009 12:15 PM
Richmond Terrace at Pelton
Richmond Terrace at Pelton
12/4/2009 12:16 PM
Richmond Terrace at Pelton
Richmond Terrace at Pelton
12/4/2009 12:18 PM
Richmond Terrace at Pelton
Mount Zion Ministry, 631 Henderson
12/4/2009 12:19 PM
Mount Zion Ministry, 631 Henderson
Henderson at Campbell
12/4/2009 12:22 PM
Henderson at Campbell
Henderson at Campbell
12/4/2009 12:23 PM
Henderson at Campbell
Guard pit bull on Campbell
12/4/2009 12:24 PM
Guard pit bull on Campbell
New development south of Markham Gardens
12/4/2009 12:24 PM
New development south of Markham Gardens