August Hawkins and his sister Prudence around 1900


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Early Transportation

Before the arrival of the rail road, travel between eastern Long Island and New York city and Brooklyn was arduous.  Regularly scheduled packet sloops between major communities on the north shore and east end  sailing to New York and Connecticut were available.  Packet sloops were much preferred to overland travel, both for their speed and comfort, in spite of the occasional storms that could make travel dangerous and uneasy.  As far as I have been able to determine, there were no regularly scheduled packet sloops sailing from Patchogue to western Long Island and New York City, although I suspect passage could be arranged on one of the many freight sloops operating along the south shore, including some who had docks along the Carman's river—Squassux Landing, Barteau's at the mouth of Yaphank creek, and some said further upstream near South Haven.

However, long distance and local stages were apparently quite common.  The 1826 newspaper advertisement below was for a route of particular interest to the residents of Fire Place. 

Main line LIRR Bridge over Carman's River about 1900
Main Line Long Island Rail Road Bridge over the Carman's River east of Yaphank station about 1900

In 1844, what we now know as the Main Line of the Long Island Rail Road was completed.  The entire trip from Brooklyn to Greenport took only 3½ hours (it now takes about 3 hours).  The original route had a "Bellport" station stop 2½ miles east of Medford (1844) specifically to meet stage coach service to the village;  Bellport Station road originally terminated at this station.  Later, a station was established at Yaphank (1845).  After these dates, a station stage or private transportation would be taken between one of these stops and Fire Place or Bellport.

In 1884, the South Shore Railroad (now known as the Montauk Branch) was extended through Eastport and then to Montauk (1895).  Stations were established at Brookhaven and Bellport (1882).  It is after this date that summer and even some commuter residency blossomed in the area.  Visit here for more on the Brookhaven station.