So, the line remained with the LIRR until 1953. Frequent fires on the wooden trestle crossing Jamaica Bay impelled the LIRR to toss in the towel on the old line. It was purchased by New York City, which rebuilt the tracks and began subway service to the Rockaways in 1956.
The northern end of the line above Liberty Avenue remained in service until 1962, when declining patronage convinced the LIRR to close it down.
The right of way of the old line has remained surprisingly intact over the years, and in some places, tracks and overpasses are still in place. This has given some transit visionaries the idea to reactivate it as a one-seat ride to JFK Airport, but since it now runs through a residential neighborhood, it's unlikely that the locals will allow that to happen.
The branch of the LIRR we walked on was constructed in 1908-09 and connected the LIRR with the Rockaway Peninsula. It diverged from the main line at a point just east of the 63rd Drive overpass known as the Whitepot Underjump. The branch point wasn't called a 'junction' because northbound trains passed into a short tunnel under the main line and then merged. All of the Rockaway Branch featured state of the art appointments, which meant no grade crossings, electrification and signals. Most of the branch was on an embankment or elevated over main streets.
The Rockaway Branch featured stations at Grand Street (now Grand Avenue), Rego Park (which were on the Main Line but were stops only for Rockaway Branch trains), Parkside, Brooklyn Manor, Woodhaven [Junction], Ozone Park, Aqueduct, Howard Beach, Hamilton Beach, Goose Creek, The Raunt, Broad Channel, and the myriad stations on the peninsula. Many of the stations were of wooden construction, and no trace of them remains today except a widening of the space between trackways. Two stations made of concrete, Woodhaven and Ozone Park, are still there. In 1956, Aqueduct, Howard Beach, Broad Channel and the peninsula stations were taken over by the TA as subway stations.
Sources: Herbert George, Change At Ozone Park, © 1993 RAE Publishing