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James Eichhorn's Scoot Engine No. 84

Thu, 06/17/2021 - 11:38

This photograph from the Amagansett Historical Association's Carleton Kelsey Collection shows the Long Island Rail Road's engine No. 84, with James C. Eichhorn's name painted on the side.

Local engines making short trips were known as "scoot" engines. This engine was one of four of the most modern types available when the L.I.R.R. put them into service in 1898. The railroad began naming locomotives after their operating enginemen in 1924, which helps date this photo.

In it, Amato (Little Nick) Dellapolla appears on the footboard of the engine, and Eichhorn's youngest son, Clement (1905-1976), poses in front with his father's name. As an interesting aside, James Eichhorn's name adorned at least one other locomotive, No. 18.

James Cornelius Eichhorn Sr. was born in Brooklyn on April 14, 1869, to John S. Eichhorn (1836-1915) and the former Catherine Connor (1843-1925). He began his service with the L.I.R.R. in June of 1887 as a laborer. He married Jennie L. McCoy (1873-1936) in 1889. Soon after, he was promoted to locomotive fireman, and by June of 1890 he was promoted to engineman. The first train he operated ran between hotels at Brooklyn's Manhattan Beach, where he would complete at least 100 trips a day.

By 1902, the Eichhorn family moved to Amagansett, where the L.I.R.R. had expanded. Two sons, George E. Eichhorn (1898-1966) and James C. Eichhorn Jr. (1894-1914), followed in their father's footsteps, becoming enginemen for the railroad, as did a grandson, John S. Eichhorn (1915-1983).

James C. Eichhorn was honored by the L.I.R.R. at a joint retirement party with a fellow engineman, L.G. Griffing, at the Henry Perkins Hotel in Riverhead on June 20, 1937. Eichhorn had worked for the railroad for 50 years, covering an estimated three million miles. He died on May 19, 1951, at 82 and is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Amagansett.

Mayra Scanlon is a librarian and archivist in the Long Island Collection at the East Hampton Library.

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