One of the worst peacetime rail accidents in US history took place in New Jersey on February 6th, 1951. According to the book This Day in New Jersey History, Pennsylvania Railroad #733, known as “The Broker” because of all the Wall Street commuters who rode it, careened off a temporary trestle in Woodbridge and fell down an either 40 foot or 26 foot embankment depending on what report you believe, killing 84 passengers and one crew member; it is estimated that 1,000 commuters were on board when it crashed.

It had departed Exchange Place in Jersey City around 5 pm and arrived in Woodbridge at 5:43 pm. It is widely believed that excessive speed led to the crash as a speed restriction of 25 mph had been placed on the temporary bridge and an inquiry following the accident estimated the speed of the locomotive was around 50-60 mph when it got to the bridge. The conductor knew the trains was traveling too fast and tried to pull the emergency cord about a mile before Woodbridge but couldn’t get to it because of the number of passengers blocking his way. The speed and mass of the locomotive caused the tracks to shift, causing the derailment.

Wikipedia says that eight of the eleven cars derailed with the first two cars just falling over and the third and fourth cars hitting each other and then falling down the embankment; the bulk of the fatalities came from those two cars. Cars five and six were left dangling over the side of the bridge above a city street. It is the deadliest rail accidents in New Jersey history.

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