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A look back on the winter season in West Hempstead

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Several notable events have occurred during the winter months in the West Hempstead community.

One of the first historic events, as documented by the West Hempstead Historical Society, was the South Side Railroad Train Wreck, which occurred on Feb. 11, 1875. It was the first train wreck that was photographed on Long Island. The South Side Railroad was the precursor to the Long Island Rail Road line, and it ran behind the present-day locations of the St. Thomas Annex, and then Western Beef following what was called the Schodack Brook into Hempstead.

On that fateful February evening, four railroad employees were killed and another three were injured when the locomotive collapsed through the roadbed into the swollen waters of the local stream. Its engine had exploded shortly after. It was said that the explosion could be felt as far away as Garden City. Woodfield Road farmer David Bedell, who lived 85 paces away, went to help. Local lore states that the train was buried somewhere in the woods beside the St. Thomas Annex parking lot. The South Side Railroad had later gone bankrupt.

Apparently, there was quite a blizzard that affected West Hempstead in 1938. Winter weather was not just shoveling and accidents however, it was also fun. Skaters loved Wall’s (Hall’s) Pond in 1951 and used the dam to put on their skates. Parents and their children also loved the pond area for its hill, which was perfect for an afternoon of sledding. When children could not make the trip to the pond though, their own street provided loads of fun.

Courtesy West Hempstead Historical Society; compiled by Nakeem Grant