Hackensack, NJ Train Wreck, Jan 1894
More than thirty men and women were badly injured.
As the collision occurred at a remote place on an embankment shut off by the marshes from the nearest village, there was delay in securing assistance for the injured persons, a number of whom were carried to hospitals in Hoboken and Jersey City.
The locomotive of the accommodation passed nearly half way through the combination car, that is, up to the smokers part of it. Then the smokers half was driven along into the second car. The result was that the passengers in the smoker were forced back with seats, cushions, twisted iron bars and broken glass and wood in a heap against the accommodation's engine head. As for the passengers in the second car, many of whom were ladies, they were swept forward by the invading car and piled up in a mass of wreckage against the rear of the third car.
The army of over a hundred men, who promptly began the work of rescue, deserve great praise. When the crash occurred several passengers were thrown bodily through the windows. Their bodies lay where they fell, upon the ground alongside the train. One old man, who had been thrown out of a smoking car window, lay dead beside the last car of the accommodation, which shows that the crash carried both trains the length of the accommodation before they stopped. He was horribly mangled. Beside the third car of the accommodation lay another old man, who looked like a farmer, his head thrown back, his gray beard extended upward, and his eyes half open, but with no life in them. He also had received a shocking wound. A third body lay beside the second car of the accommodation, but the man's head was not visible. It looked as if it had been driven into his body between the shoulders. The track was strewn with clothes torn from the bodies of the victims, here a vest, there part of a coat or pair of trousers. The scattered fragments of clothing were used to cover the dead.
Five minutes after the collision the volunteer rescuers were hard at work carrying out the injured. Car doors and cushions and backs of car seats were extemporized into stretchers. It was remarkable the number of doctors who appeared to be on the two trains, fully twenty of them stripping off their coats and turning in. As soon as the first shock of the accident was over, the women took up the work of nursing the injured, standing beside the sufferers with smelling salts and linen bandages, while the doctors did their work.
The scene was a terrible one. Fathers, with sons and daughters and brothers, were among the unfortunate passengers. The dead and wounded in some instances were mangled in an awful way. Heads were crushed out of shape and bodies were dismembered. One man was taken from the smoker whose legs were crushed into a bloody pulp from his waist down. He lived to be placed in an ambulance and was conscious. The stomachs of two others had been cut as with an adze, and their entrails fell as they were carried to the wagons. Women fainted and men trembled as they stood by and saw what a minute's carelessness had caused.
For fifty-five years, or since the organization of the Morris and Essex Railroad, it has been the boast of its officers that they never killed a passenger. That boast can never be made again. One of the reasons assigned by some of the for the safety of this part of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western system was the fact that no Sunday trains are run except one milk train late at night. They argue that Christian men of soberness and conscience are drawn to seek work on a road that does not require them to work on Sunday, and that the immunity of the road from accident was due to the high character of its employees. Certain it is that the managers of the road never look with favor upon modern innovations in the shape of block signals, and their good fortune as regards collisions in the past has not arisen from any superiority of mechanical appliances.
The Cranbury Press New Jersey 1894-01-19