East Millstone Junction, NJ Three Train Collision, Dec 1910



Millstone Junction, N.J. -- Three are dead as the result of the wrecking of two freight trains and the "owl" about half mile west of Millstone Junction shortly after 2 o'clock this morning. The four tracks of Pennsylvania Railroad were tied up for hours.
The dead:
JOHN LOEWENBERG, of Jersey City, engineer of the coal train.
FRANK KNOX, of Elizabeth, a fireman.
D. MONOGHAN, flagman of a freight train.
The accident was caused by the placing of wrong signals or by the neglect of the flagman of the freight train to properly guard his train when it came to a standstill, or perhaps both. Coroner John V. Hubbard and Prosecutor Theodore B.Booraom are making a thorough investigation of the wreck.
An east bound freight train stopped near Millstone Junction about two o'clock this morning to drill some cars to a siding. When such a stop is made it is the duty of the flagman to go back with a danger signal to prevent any cars from coming from the rear. MONOGHAN was the flagman of this freight train and it is claimed that he did not leave the caboose.
A heavily laden coal train came up bearing down on the same track, also east bound. The engineer, JOHN LOEWENBERG, saw the lights of the caboose too late to stop his heavy train and his engine crashed into the caboose with terrific force.
His fireman FRANK WINES, of Jersey City, was in the act of going back upon the tender at the time. The force of the collision threw him into the air and he landed in a water tank of the tender and it broke the force of the fall and saved his life. He emerged from the wreck with scarcely a scratch.
The collision caused the coal train to buckle and one of the cars was thrown over the westbound freight tracks and protruded over the west bound passenger track.
Just at the time the late "owl" was thundering along. This is the new owl, the one which leaves the Pennsylvania Station in New York at 1 o'clock and is due in this city at 2:09 a.m.
A part of the wrecked car struck FRANK KNOX, of 536 Greir Avenue, Elizabeth, the fireman of the "owl" killing him instantly. The "owl" train was sideswiped. The engine was thrown from the track but did not topple over. A mail car, the two Pullman coaches, Mountville and Hummell and a day coach followed suit.
The passenger engine ran nearly ten feet from the track and headed for the front yard of Michael Rod, a track walker. It stopped before it got as far as h is two-story frame building.
The protruding part of the coal car crashed through glass on the side of the passenger train. It was a sudden awakening for most of the passengers on the "owl" were asleep.
The big steel coaches stood the shock well. While the passengers were considerably shaken-up no one was severely injured.
MRS. DORA RUPERIOSS, of South Third Street, Philadelphia, suffered from shock. She was the only passenger taken to Wells Memorial Hospital. She is anticipating an interesting happening and it was feared that the shock would have disastrous effect, but she is resting nicely.
The accident occurred directly beneath one of the overhead signal bridges. The bridge was demolished and the signal system put out of commission.
At Mike Rod's house live a number of Italian track laborers. They jumped out of bed and made up a small wrecking crew in a jiffy.
Word was sent to this city for help. A special train was made up at Trenton and sent out for the passengers of the "owl" and they were soon on their way, all but one young man, a railroader who stayed to watch results.
Thhis fellow was asleep in a Pullman. He said afterward that he didn't hear any crash and didn't know that there had been a wreck until the porter came in the car and awakened him with the information that the train would no no further. He was walking about this morning with a Pullman blanket wrapped around him trying to keep warm.
The passengers taken care of, the wrecking crews which had been summoned tackled the job of clearing the debris. The wrecked box cars were toppled over the high embankment and burned. The engine of the coal train was stripped, broken up and thrown down the embankment. Scattered coal was gathered up and the coal cars still on wheels hauled out of the way.
The passenger coaches were put on the track as rapidly as possible and hauled away.
The westbound passenger track was torn up for two or three hundred feet. The rails were twisted up like so much wire. The wreckage was strewn over all four tracks.
By daylight several wrecking crews were busy, but there was no general head directing the movements of the men. Later on a number of officials of the road arrived from Jersey City and Superintendent Tomilnson took charge of the various crews and the work progressed more systematically.
Two wrecking trains were in use. By late morning trains were being run through westward on the westbound freight track, which was cleared first. Next the eastbound passenger track was cleared and at 9:30 a long procession of trains were moved slowly through on their way to New York. The morning train from Millstone went through to New York all right, the wreck being west of the Millstone yards.
Hundreds of commuters here and elsewhere between this city and New York were held up for hours this morning by the wreck. The paper train was unable to get through and all mails were tied up.
Freight traffic was suspended for most of the whole morning and much valuable Christmas freight was held up. In one stalled train was a car load of Christmas trees, on their way from Maine forests to Philadelphia.
The first car of the "owl" was a mail car, loaded down with Christmas mail, including much registered mail. This car was not damaged to any great extent. The railroad sent its force of detectives out here from all along the line and they paid particular attention to that mail coach. The officers guarded it while the mail sacks were transferred to another mail coach during the morning.
Michael Rod, the trackman into whose house the "owl" locomotive nearly poked its nose said that he had started out from his house at 1:30 o'clock this morning to make his turn along the track. He was not far from the house when he heard a crash and looking back saw cars piled up on the track.
"I thought my house was gone. My wife and four children were in there and I though that they were gone too."
He ran back and found that his boarders were already out doing what they could.
The passengers in the "owl" were thrown into a panic. The interior of the coaches were not damaged much, but the side of the car next to the freight track was swiped and every pane of glass broken. The wonder is that more people were not cut by flying glass. There is not a heavy through traffic on this train.
Coroner Hubbard was at the scene at day light and had ordered the dead body of FRED KNOX removed to his morgue. Later on when the charred remains of Flagman MONAGHAN were found in the burned caboose, he took charge of them.
Engineer JOHN LOWENBERG was removed to Wells Hospital, but he died there from the scald would during the morning.
Shortly after 9 o'clock Coroner Hubbard returned to the scene with Prosecutor Booraem. At the prosecutor's direction Photographer Vanderveer took a number of views of the scene. The officials were endeavoring to learn the cause of the wreck which had cost three lives.
The inquiry soon narrowed down to the question of misplaced signals. The fact that the freight train had stopped directly under the signal bridge may have something to do with the confusion of the signals. The absence of the rear flagman made the risk greater.
Coroner Hubbard said that he was satisfied that the failure of the flagman to take his signal back of the standing train was largely responsible for the wreck.
FRANK KNOX, of Elizabeth, the fireman of the "owl" was not the regular fireman on this train, but had been called upon to do special duty last night. He was 24 years old and leaves a wife and infant daughter, a mother and a brother. He was the son of the late Nicholas Knox, who was killed on the Pennsylvania Railroad at North Elizabeth about ten years ago.
The news of the accident was communicated to Mrs. Loewenberg, wife of the dead engineer. She came on here this noon, but was not informed of her husband's death until she went to the hospital. She was almost prostrated on learning the sad news.
The engineer of the owl did not leave his name with the authorities. At first he refused to tell anything about the accident, but when he learned that he would be taken somewhere where he would have to talk, he said that he had a clear track ahead of him and knew nothing of any obstruction until he struck the wreck.

New Brunswick Times New Jersey 1910-12-22