Martin's Creek, NJ Train Wreck, Apr 1911 - Appalling Disaster

Martin's Creek, NJ Train Wreck 1911 Mass of Wreckage Train ruins



Wrecked at Martin's Creek, N. J., While En Route to Washington, In Addition to the Killed a Large Number Were Seriously Injured -- Sorrow in Many Homes Over the Loss of Loved Ones.

The terrible disaster that befell the Utica teacher's excursion train at Martin's Creek, N. J., Saturday afternoon, has resulted even worse than some of the first reports indicated. Fatalities have multiplied and the number of injured has increased. The following residents of Utica were killed: SUSIE SESSIONS, SARAH E. JONES, MRS. MARY ALLEN, SOPHIE R. KUOLT, LOUISA LINDSMAN, ELEANOR RUTHERFORD, BESSIE WALKER.
The partial remains of six bodies were found in the wreck, and ELEANOR RUTHERFORD died at the hospital. This accounts for all the missing. Very little was left of the bodies for identification, most of them being charred bones. A handbag with a receipt signed by MRS. ALLEN found near her body, identified her. A watch marked "S.E.J." identified MISS JONES.
W. M. VANOY, engineer, CHARLES M. PIERSON, baggageman, both of them died at the Easton hospital.
The Injured.
Of the injured at the Easton hospital, MISS AUGUSTA LIGHT of New Hartford, has serious lacerations of the face and burns, which may cause her death. M. G. PARSONS, the fireman has a chance to recover. Besides them, the following are in the hospital and in fair condition none being considered serious:
MISS BERTHA HALL, Waterville, burns, cuts and bruises.
J. FRANCES HALL, not dangerously burned, sprained ankle.
MINNIE SCHWABE, of Utica, burned about face but not serious.
FREDERIKA SCHWABE, Utica, right arm broken.
CATHERINE BAYNES, Rome, slightly injured.
CECILIA LINDSMAN, nervous shock.
ANNE CAMPBELL, bruised, head and arms, fractured ribs.
MARY CONDON, Utica, cuts and bruises, arm broken.
Others whose injuries are less serious are: ANNA O'BRIEN, FLORA BAKER, CATHERINE LAWSON, CATHERINE DUFFY. All of them came home Saturday night. Also DR. M. E. HENNESSY, whose back was badly bruised. Others were MRS. CATHERINE O'BRIEN, right arm and left leg badly cut, her daughter ANNA suffering from shock, others injured were:
MRS. W. B. SUTERS, of Waterville, back hurt.
RUTH PENFIELD, of Waterville, Shoulder hurt.
ELIZABETH CARR, Utica, broken collar bine[sic].
GERTRUDE FARLEY, Utica, back and neck hurt.
ELEANOR CARNEY, Utica, badly bruised and nervous shock.
Story of the Wreck.
The special train left Utica for Washington at 8 o'clock Saturday morning. It made good time in its dash across New York and Pennsylvania over the tracks of the Lackawanna. It sped to Stroudsburg, and there it was switched to the Pennsylvania's lines for the run to Easton. Even over the curves of the Pennsylvania, the special raced at a tremendous speed. THe operator's sheets for two stations north of where the wreck occurred, showed that a mile there was made in a minute. The was but a short distance from Martin's Creek, where the train left the rails, and even there the speed was at least 50 miles an hour, say those on the train.
Cause Was Carelessness.
Here comes the terrible carelessness which evidently caused the wreck. Not far from Martin's Creek the tracks, where slightly on the right flows the Delaware, and on the left was the steep embankment and ditch, on this very curve, gangs of men were at work raising the grade of the track. The ballast was partly out from between the ties and the whole track was shaky. The section boss says that warning flags were out, but before he died Engineer VALOY said he did not know that the track was being repaired. On to this uncertain foundation the train drove with a momentum which tore loose the track and threw the engine and four cars off the rails.
Fire Responsible For Deaths.
The train including a combination baggage and smoker, three day coaches and a dining car on the rear. It was the weight of this heavy car which kept the third coach from turning over. Had that occurred, the loss of life must inevitably have been greater. It was not the shock of the cars leaving the rails which did the damage, for they did not telescope to any extent. The fire which broke out almost instantly and raged with such fury that rescuers could do little, was responsible for the deaths. No oil car was side-swiped by the passenger, for this is a single-tracked road with no switches at that point, and there was no oil car near. Gas in the illuminating systems of the wrecked train was what did the damage. As the engine bumped over the ties before toppling on its side, the fire-box spilled live coals along under the cars. One of the storage gas tanks must have broken for almost instantly the train was in flames from end to end.
The fire spread with such rapidity that the blaze was licking up the wreckage almost before the startled passengers realized their predicament. That so many escaped was nothing short of miraculous for they had to get through windows.
Terrible Scenes.
The terrible side of the disaster appeared in the fate of ELEANOR E. RUTHERFORD, who died from her burns. She was pulled from the wreckage with her clothes burned off and lay naked on the ground writhing in her agony. Her head was not crushed and when rescuers attempted to aid her she told them to leave her and help her sister, CARRIE, who was less seriously injured.
The Center Coach.
The missing who were given up for dead only after repeated countings had failed to locate them, were almost all in the center coach, the third car from the engine. As the train left the rails the combination baggage car was thrown crosswide on the tracks. The next coach was into the ditch on the left with the wheels in the air. The second coach went over on its side against the bank, and the third coach left the rails but stayed upright, held by the weight of the diner, which was not derailed. In the center coach were SUSIE KUOLT, the LINDSMAN girls, BESSIE WALKER, SUSAN SESSIONS, the RUTHERFORD girls, MISS SARAH JONES, and it is thought, MRS. MARY ALLEN. This car was on its side, which made it very hard to get out of. It was the car under which the fire started. Hence escape was almost impossible.
The Great Strain.
Just what strain the survivors labored under perhaps will never be known to any but themselves. The shock sustained by the abrupt ending of their pleasure trip was not considered by them. Standing sharp in their minds was the thought that this was a sort of family party. Everybody knew everyone else. They were bound by ties of common interest and sincere friendship. That made more terrible the thought that many friends, their friends, had met death in a horrible form, pinned in the burning wreckage. The sympathy and helpfulness exhibited by the party for one another bound them close in their common affliction, and not less remarkable was the fortitude and composure with which this crowd, largely women, faced the ordeal. There were 168 excursionists from central and northern New York on the train.

The Lowville Journal & Republican New York 1911-05-04