Harrington Park Historical Society Presents "New Jersey's Deadliest Train Wreck" with Author, Historian Gordon Bond
Harrington Park, NJ events, New Jersey History

The Harrington Park Historical Society has announced Mr. Gordon Bond, author, historian, and founder of Garden State Legacies will be guest lecturer on September 11, 2017. Mr. Bond’s presentation entitled “The Story of New Jersey's Deadliest Train Wreck" will begin at 7:30 pm in the Harrington Park Library located at 10 Herring Street in Harrington Park, New Jersey.

Mr. Bond will discuss his latest book, "Man Failure: The Story of New Jersey's Deadliest Train Wreck," which draws on eyewitness interviews, contemporary news reports, and investigation transcripts to explore this dramatic event in New Jersey history.

Deadliest Railroad Accident in NJ History

On the drizzly evening of February 6, 1951, the Pennsylvania Railroad commuter train known as “The Broker” derailed in Woodbridge, New Jersey, killing 85 and injuring hundreds in what remains the deadliest railroad accident in the state’s history and among the top five in the United States.

What happened is reasonably well-understood. "The Broker" hit a temporary track around a New Jersey Turnpike construction site going between 50- and 65-miles-per-hour, though the speed limit was set at 25. The tender derailed and began to drag the eleven passenger cars behind it down a 30-foot embankment onto the parallel Fulton Street. The horrors of the wreck have been recounted by surviving passengers, witnesses, and rescuers. "The Broker" has remained in the communal memories of the Township and the communities afflicted, appearing in local histories, noted in local media on anniversaries, and within compendiums of historic railroad accidents.

Why it happened, however, is an area of controversy. While the role of speed is generally accepted, why the otherwise experienced and skilled engineer failed to properly observe the speed restriction drew attention at the time to systemic issues within the Pennsylvania Railroad itself and seemed to reflect what many had come to believe about the industry as a whole. Seemingly plagued by delays, rate hikes, labor disputes, accidents, and the long shadow of a hundred-plus years of corruptive influence, it felt like the railroads put profit before service—and now the cost was being counted in mangled corpses and broken bodies.

Mr. Bond is the ePublisher of www.GardenStateLegacy.com, a free quarterly online magazine dedicated to New Jersey history. As an independent historian and author, he has written many New Jersey related articles and five books, including; James Parker: A Printer on the Eve of Revolution (Garden State Legacy, 2010) and North Jersey Footnotes: Tangential Tales from Garden State History.

Other areas of research include New Jersey’s folk grave marker traditions and leading a team proposing an archeological exploration of the Thomas Mundy Peterson house site in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

A proud native of the Garden State, Mr. Bond lives with his wife, Stephanie M. Hoagland and their two cats in Union Township, New Jersey. He also runs his own freelance graphic designs business, Gordon Bond Designs.

All lectures are free and open to the public, and the Society welcomes everyone to attend. After a Q & A a reception will follow.

For more information about the Society’s activities, contact Gerri Gibney at 201 768-2615 or visit the Society on Facebook or www.harringtonparkhistoricalsociety.com.