A blog about living in Aberdeen, New Jersey.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

History: Pennsylvania Express Derails South of Matawan During Morning Rush (1923)

Overturned Engine of Pennsylvania Express Train (Matawan Journal, 31 Aug 1923)

The Pennsylvania Express shore train to New York derailed just south of Matawan station at 7:47 am on Tuesday 28 Aug 1923, according to the 31 Aug 1923 edition of The Matawan Journal.

"It is thought an iron rod broke and the end, falling down, caught in the railroad ties and tracks as the train sped along, for the ties were cut for some distance. As the wheels of the locomotive struck the cross rails just north of the signal tower, it jumped the tracks and continued to go wild, tearing up ties and twisting rails as it pushed forward, until the engine turned over, burying its nose in the earth."

"The coupling bars snapped and the rest of the train, swaying for a moment, righted itself with no harm to the passengers and with only a small amount of broken glass to the passenger coaches."

Nine trains with 15,000 passengers were soon stranded behind the wreckage. They had to be backed up, one a a time, to be diverted to the Freehold and Keyport line. Wrecking trains were dispatched from Elizabethport and the Pennsylvania yard to deal with the turned engine and coal car and 60 workers were sent to begin repairs to the track. A temporary switch was in place by 2:45 pm and the engine was removed from the track by 7 pm. Relief gangs worked all night and the next day restoring the track, ties, and signals.

A photo of the derailed engine appears in the newspaper article but the online image is of poor quality. A different image can be found on pg 72 of "Around Matawan and Aberdeen," by Helen Henderson.


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