A Baseball Graveyard in Queens

Queensway_Rockaway Beach Branch_1653

An overgrown overpass at Union Turnpike and Woodhaven Boulevard, part of the proposed Queensway project.

Abandoned for half a century, the old Rockaway Beach Branch of the Long Island Railroad is stirring debate today as opposing visions for its future emerge.  Before it’s reactivated to serve beleaguered Queens commuters, or converted to the Queensway, (a linear park similar to Manhattan’s High Line), the track remains a 3.5 mile wilderness, with more than a few secrets scattered among the ruins.

At the northern edge of Forest Park, the rails terminate in a parking lot, where antiquated electrical towers have been adapted as streetlights.  Across the Union Turnpike, there’s a plot of land that may be the most obscure section of the Rockaway Branch, a triangular junction wedged between a dilapidated warehouse and a complex of baseball diamonds.  A well-trod path leading into the place quickly dissolves into a tangle of branches; the plant life is especially lush here, and difficult to navigate.

Baseball Graveyard Squat_Rockaway Beach Branch_1610

A soggy mattress clogs a sunlit clearing, marking a recent habitation…

Baseball Graveyard_Rockaway Beach Branch_1623

…just a few paces from a chain link fence that separates a packed field of cheering little leaguers.

Standing in the shadows just beyond the diamond’s edge, you’re practically invisible, in a world between worlds, and right at your feet, dozens of baseballs bloom from the earth like mushrooms

This is the place the balls go where you can’t get them back, each a martyr and a monument to a home run that may have taken place decades ago or just this morning.  Stripped of their leather casing, the older specimens reveal a second skin of frayed cotton yarn. The most ancient are unrecognizable, corrupted to a truffle-like core of black, scabrous rubber. Together, they linger in a bizarre kind of afterlife, populating the century-old tracks of a forgotten railroad—when a place is left alone, the past piles up.

Check out the gallery below for an education in baseball construction, and decay…

-Will Ellis




9 thoughts on “A Baseball Graveyard in Queens



    Posted by Alicia | 5-5-13., 2:24 pm
  2. This is cool. In June I’m driving out to photograph Tesla’s old lab in Long Island. Would you like to join me?

    — Todd _____________ Todd Vaccaro Mobile: +1 (646) 714-2808

    Please pardon the autocorrected words from my iPhone.


    Posted by manhattandad | 5-5-13., 10:47 pm
  3. haha those pics of the baseballs are great, almost scandalous!


    Posted by Pipe Adams | 5-12-13., 12:15 pm
  4. My friend got caught by an undercover cop there!! He was only taking pictures…. the cop searched him and asked for his i.d. and arrested him….. So be careful!!!


    Posted by brianna | 7-11-13., 2:47 pm
  5. Searched him, asked for his i.d., and arrested him****


    Posted by brianna | 7-11-13., 2:49 pm
  6. Hey! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering if you
    knew where I could get a captcha plugin for my comment form?
    Appears to be I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m
    having problems finding one? Thanks a lot!


    Posted by Benito | 8-9-13., 8:04 pm
  7. Reblogged this on Beers, Balls and Bacchae and commented:
    On twiter, follow a dear family member’s organization and their efforts to turn a dilapidated former rail line into a park: @TheQueensWay


    Posted by BBB | 6-17-14., 9:12 pm


  1. Pingback: Haunting Pictures of QueensWay, Maybe the Next High Line | Brownstoner Queens - 6-4-13.

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