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Photos by Dan Rattiner

DAN'S PAPERS, June 12, 2009 Page 21

U-Haul Hits Bridge He’s Late with the Furniture. What the Heck is the Matter with Him? By Dan Rattiner To get to the newly beautified shopping center known as North Main Street in East Hampton, you drive down the hill past the Hook Pond Windmill and duck under a railroad trestle that has a clearance of only 10 feet. Why this is so low is due to the failure of the railroad, years ago, to dig the underpass deep enough to allow the usual 11- or 12-foot clearance. Whether or not this was because of budgetary considerations way back then, we will never know. What we do know is that from time to time a truck driven by somebody either texting or otherwise not paying attention

drives under the trestle without realizing what they’ve got overhead is taller than 10 feet. The trestle always wins. I did think, a couple of years ago, when the North Main Street shopping area was being festooned with bricks and flowers and other handsome street furniture, that it would be a good idea to decorate both sides of the stone abutments and railroad trestle with flowers. They could be interwoven into wooden trellises that would just get replaced when smacked by a dumb truck driver. Nobody took me up on it. So both the abutments and trestle have remained in the state of a battered but victori-

ous warrior whose various encounters with moving traffic are proudly displayed in a wide variety of horrific looking smacks and cuts. Welcome to North Main. About two months ago, the railroad made a change. They decided to put a huge warning sign up on the entire length of the trestle. It would be 20 feet long, painted with yellow and black stripes, and on it would be written in giant letters, in the very center of this monstrous sign, CLEARANCE 10’ 0.” At first I didn’t like this, but then I realized that, if nothing else, this giant sign did cover (continued on page 34)

HISTORIC NAPEAGUE CHIMNEY MAY BE TAKEN DOWN By Dan Rattiner It’s just a chimney. There’s nothing particularly special about it. It’s made of bricks, stands about 40-feet high right at the beach, on a strip of sand facing out to the bay between Amagansett and Montauk at a place they used to call Promised Land. The chimney is no longer attached to anything. It was at one time, of course, because there had to be something, probably a factory, that created smoke that the owners wanted emitted into the atmosphere high enough up so the workers and managers would not be coughing and spitting over it. The question is, today, should this chimney be saved? There is a woman who owns this property now and she wants to build a house on this four-acre parcel facing the water — there is no home there now — and she wants to take the

chimney down because it would block her view. The Town is considering it. There is some argument that the chimney should be saved because from time to time, sailboats and motorboats reckon by it. There is nothing anywhere near to it this high. They reckon to radio towers, to lighthouses, to whatever they can find. One chimney, more or less, is probably not a substantial enough reason for this chimney not to be taken down. But then there is the history. It is quite remarkable, and it raises the question about whether something perfectly ordinary should be saved because of the history that swirled around it, which defined it, and which, during its time, resulted in this place being called Promised Land. It surely is worth considering. Prior to 1880, there was nothing at all in the land between Amagansett, which the Indians

called Napeague and Montauk. It was all dunes, beach grass, sea shells and beaches, from the ocean on the south to the arc of Gardiner’s Bay on the north. In 1881, the railroad came through. And that sparked a couple of industrialists who owned factories near New York City to consider building one on the banks of the bay. At the time, glue was often made from fish. You’d put tiny fish known as bunker in a giant pot with some water, heat it up, stir it up, and make it into what it turns out is a very good glue. You could let it cool, bottle it, label it and sell it. It was a terribly awful, smelly business making this glue. Glue factories stank. In the populous areas near New York City, the stench often brought complaints from local residents. It would be better to build a glue factory in a remote area. (continued on page 34)

Dan's Papers June 12, 2009  

Dan's Papers, the 51-year-old bible of the Hamptons, is owned by Manhattan Media, a multi-media publishing company based in New York City,...