Sunday, November 15, 2015

August Belmont’s Subway Car

August Belmont, Jr.
August Belmont, Jr. was a New York banker, bon vivant, financier, and owner/ breeder of the famous thoroughbred Man o’ War. 

He put the money up for the first New York City subway line.

This line, the IRT was built between 1902 and 1904. It ran from City Hall to 14th street. Belmont loved this project, and it is said he sometimes worked alongside various construction crews as this railroad was being built.

Even today along this line witnesses report hearing Belmont’s voice shout, “work harder” along this original track.

Once this subway was complete, Belmont had the Wason Manufacturing Company out of Brightwood, Massachusetts, build him a private railroad car—this was to avoid riding in the inevitable overcrowded subway cars.

He arranged for a direct line from the Grand Central Terminal to Belmont Park racetrack on Long Island—Queens. This famous racetrack was named after him * for his passion in life was breeding thoroughbreds.

* Various sources cite August Belmont, Jr. as the inspiration for the name for this track others state it actually was named after his father--Belmont. Sr.

The Mineola
He called his private car the Mineola. He and his guests rode in luxury. The train car contained a galley, with a stove that served steaks. Drinks were also served-- notably chilled Champagne. He often conducted business on his roll-top desk in a Mahoney lined study.

The Mineola was also adorned with silk drapes and a reclining couch.

His wife once noted with humor that, “A private railroad car is not an acquired taste . . . One takes to it immediately.”

This car was in use until 1919. The Mineola now resides at the Shoreline Trolley Museum in East Haven, Connecticut.

It still contains the roll-top desk, the steal 600-volt coffee urn, the unbroken Tiffany glass that adorns the Empire ceiling and the sand used to flush the car’s toilet facility.

There is an effort underway to restore the Mineola to its original beauty.

Witnesses report seeing this car in the spring months—when the ponies run—still making its way down New York’s original subway track.

According to Tom Ogden in his book, Haunted Greenwich Village: Bohemian Banshees, Spooky Sites, and Gonzo Ghost Walks, one witness even entered this car as it stopped at Astor Place. Ogden states this was most likely a time slip as opposed to a traditional haunting.

In another post here, several other time slip encounters are described.

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