Lynbrook LIRR plaques go up, 20 years later

Long Island Rail Road President Helena Williams, right,

Long Island Rail Road President Helena Williams, right, and Lynbrook historian and author Arthur S. Mattson look over Mattson's book on his village at the Lynbrook LIRR station. It was the first elevated station for the Long Island Rail Road. (July 27, 2012) (Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin)

Plaques are often used to commemorate historical events. But seldom does the plaque itself have an interesting story behind it.

That's the case with two markers that went up at the Long Island Rail Road Lynbrook station Friday. The cast-aluminum plaques pay tribute to the station's rich history and to one of its more notable historical figures.

They also bear a peculiar date of creation: 1992.

Twenty years ago, the Village of Lynbrook sought bids to have the plaques cast. Rather than wait to be awarded the contract, an upstate foundry went ahead and made the markers, but the village -- in a budget crunch at the time -- couldn't afford to pay for them.

For two decades, the plaques sat in a shed at the foundry until Madeline Pearson, president of the Historical Society of East Rockaway and Lynbrook, and the society's secretary Patricia Sympson recently launched an effort to buy them. Nassau Legis. Francis Becker Jr. (R-Lynbrook) helped secure a $6,300 county grant to do just that.

"We almost lost a moment in time with these plaques if they didn't hang on to them -- these two diligent women," LIRR president Helena Williams said at a ceremony at the station Friday.

One of the markers honors John Monohan, who worked as a crossing guard in Lynbrook for 29 years until the tracks were elevated in 1938. He's credited with saving the lives of seven people from oncoming trains at the Atlantic Avenue crossing.

The other plaque commemorates milestones in the station's history, including its renaming from Pearsalls Corners to Lynbrook in 1894. LIRR station master Thomas Brennan came up with the name by transposing the syllables of "Brooklyn," and it stuck, said village historian Art Mattson.

"Lynbrook Village has, I think, as strong a connection to the Long Island Rail Road as any community," Mattson said. "We were a tiny hamlet that didn't have much of anything. The Long Island Rail Road really made it what it is."

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