Mystery Train, Mystery Phone




Today my flashlight and I (and a group of 50 other people) ventured through an open manhole in the middle of a Kings County intersection to view an abandoned 19th century railroad tunnel underneath Atlantic Avenue. Brooklynite Bob Diamond, who discovered the tunnel in 1979 after years of research (he prevailed after being told repeatedly it didn’t exist) leads tours into the subterranean tunnel built by Cornelius Vanderbilt for the Long Island Rail Road around the time of the Civil War. But I really found myself wondering: where did the phone come from?

Bob tells a riveting tale of the tunnel’s history and German spies, pirates, Murder Inc., bootleggers, and the possible existence of a steam locomotive rumored to be buried on its side in an inaccessible part of the tunnel near Hicks Street. He’s trying to raise the funds to locate and excavate the engine, and I for one believe he’ll find it. Movie director Trey Nelson is currently working on a documentary about the quest for the mystery train.

Back to the telephone. It’s an office type phone with several lines, otherwise known as a PBX system, first introduced in the 1970’s. The phone could have been left by the first crew who helped break open the tunnel 30 years ago, or by anyone else since then. The question is who and why? Bob didn’t have the answer. Another unsolved mystery.


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