‘The Wreck of 1901′ — The story behind Bordentown’s tragic train accident
It was on February 21st, 1901 that a tragic train accident happened in New Jersey, according to the book This Day in New Jersey History. An express train that ran between New York and Atlantic City collided head on with a local passenger train in Bordentown which was traveling from Camden to Trenton.
Both trains caught fire with engines and cars tumbling into the Delaware and Raritan Canal. Seventeen people were killed and 21 were injured. Unfortunately, the Nellie Bly, which normally pulled two passenger cars, had added a third car for the first time that day because of heavy demand, according to John Blackwell of The Trentonian on CapitalCentury.com.
It was the passenger train that was at fault. While the two trains shared a track, the local was supposed to pull over to a siding to let the express pass. While he pulled over while the first two sections passed, he misread the order to pull over and didn’t realize there was a third section. That’s the one with which he collided. Several people were crushed while others burned to death. About half the dead and wounded were Italian laborers from New York who were on their way to a construction project in AC. The tragedy became known as “The Wreck of 1901,” or to locals, simply known as “The Wreck."
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