Last January we heard from a reliable source that a late night excursion to the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel area led to the discovery of a 19th Century LIRR steam locomotive underground, and now more information from that investigation has surfaced.
The circa-1844 tunnel was rediscovered by Bob Diamond in the 1980s, and until a few years ago he was giving tours down below, with hopes of breaking through to another sealed off area of the tunnel, but the FDNY and Department of Transportation shut his operation down in 2010. That sealed off area has not been opened since around 1861, and is believed to hold a few historical treasures, the most grandiose being this locomotive. And now there is almost definitive proof that it exists!
This week Diamond told us that he now has "high tech scientific proof that there is in fact an early 19th century steam locomotive buried inside the historic Atlantic Avenue tunnel." The finding came after engineering consultants at Brinkerhoff Environmental Group were brought to the site, where they identified a 20-foot long metallic structure under the surface of Atlantic Avenue at Hicks Street.
Director of Geophysical Services, Matthew Powers, wrote: "It is conceivable that the suspect locomotive is located between the middle and south sides of Atlantic Avenue and a separate smaller anomaly is located on the northern side. Based on Brinkerhoff's interpretation of the geophysical data, there is no question that something(s) metallic is buried under Atlantic Avenue, its just a matter of what. Brinkerhoff does not believe that the response is due to any surficial utilities." He added that there may be "additional artifacts" (like the diary of John Wilkes Booth?).
So now the question is: will the Department of Transportation allow an underground investigation? Currently they aren't commenting on the matter, but Diamond says it is his "New Year's hope that everyone can pull together to give Atlantic Avenue the most unique historical tourist attraction in the City Of New York."