This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of June 7

2024-06-07 TWIR Image-Farley
2024-06-07 TWIR Image-Train Crash

June 4, 1874 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

Public opinion seems to be setting in favor of strong and healthy girls. Pale faces are not thought so interesting now-a-days as they used to be. A sneer goes round at the inefficiency of the feeble women who work for a living and ask for good wages. Young men ridicule the idea of tying themselves for life to the sickly girls who exhibit loads of expensive dry-goods upon their persons along the side-walks, and they begin to praise openly rosy cheeks and stout figures. Indeed it seems as though the pale and weak young ladies, who, if they were of no practical use in the world, were at least admired and praised as interesting on account of their pallor and langor, were going to have a pretty hard time of it now. We had better not raise any more girls of that kind. We would not advocate any heathen practice of putting feeble infants to death, but we would strongly urge that more care be exercised to prevent our making feeble women of healthy infants. This subject demands the immediate attention of parents. Something must be done to save our daughters from unhappy lives, and from becoming acknowledged burdens to society.

June 5, 1924 – 100 YEARS AGO
Pearl River News

BEAR WANTS TO CLIMB OVER THE MOUNTAIN — Tame Lummox at Interstate Park — Desires a Sightseeing Trip
       The only bear now in residence on Bear Mountain, a tame animal answering the name of Lummox or to the smell of honey, awoke yesterday from her winter sleep and immediately manifested a desire to go over the mountain to see what she could see. She was not, however, permitted to make the trip, her owner knowing that she would be disappointed, because the other side of the mountain would be all that she could see.
       Lummox was born in Yellowstone Park, and is caged outside the cabin of Major William A. Welch, general manager of the Interstate Park. She is not much trouble, so long as she gets her honey occasionally and other sweet foods.
       Her principal pal is the ten-year-old son of Major Welch, who bought his way into her affections with bonbons, ice cream and honey.

       Former Assemblyman James A. Farley of Stony Point, State Athletic Commissioner, was unanimously elected president of the New York State Elks’ Association at the twelfth annual convention in Buffalo.
       Farley’s name was the only one presented and his choice was the signal for a great ovation.
       A program of activities for the coming year was adopted, including plans for the formation of a definite policy for work among the crippled children of the State, for the reception of new lodges formed recently at Lancaster, Hempstead and Ossining, and for the designation of Flag Day, June 14, as the official “outdoor day” of the order.

June 7, 1974 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       Fires continued to burn in a railroad tunnel in Haverstraw today after a Penn Central train derailment Thursday morning which caused six injuries, the evacuation of 100 people and damages estimated “in the millions of dollars.”
       Firemen, hampered by intense heat and crumbling walls, had difficulty fighting the blaze. More than 100 firemen were driven out of the tunnel Thursday night by smoke, heat and falling concrete.
       The 52-car train, carrying new cars and chemicals, derailed at about 7:30 a.m. Thursday. Conductor Gerald Leech of Catskill, N.Y., and brakeman Louis Lajeuness of Waterford, N.Y., suffered minor injuries in the crash. The engineer, Charles Carpenter of Catskill, N.Y., was apparently uninjured. Carpenter was the engineer of a Penn Central train which collided with a school bus in Congers in March 1972, resulting in the deaths of five Nyack High School students.
       Firemen Bob Cusack, James Avaras, and Brian Beckel were treated for smoke inhalation at Nyack Hospital later Thursday. A railroad employee, John Misseri, no address available, was in guarded condition at Nyack Hospital after being struck in the chest with falling concrete. Police say the accident occurred as railroad workers attempted to clear debris from the tunnel.
       The derailment, which created one of the most complicated firefighting problems in Rockland’s history, occurred at 7:30 a.m. just as the three lead diesel engines were approaching the south end of the tunnel.
       There has been no explanation as to what caused the accident, and Penn Central officials said its investigative team, on the scene since early morning, would need “at least two or three days” to make a complete report.
       Haverstraw police chief John Bubenko ordered the evacuation of residents along Riverside Avenue, near the north tunnel entrance, an area known as “Dutchtown”, shortly before 1 p.m.
       An estimated 100 persons, about 30 families, left the area in buses, and officials said most of them planned to stay with relatives.
       Bubenko said the evacuation was ordered as a precautionary measure: “We don’t know for sure what’s in that tunnel—and we’re just not going to take any chances.”
       Traffic along 9W, one of Rockland County’s major north-south arteries began to back up near Haverstraw by 9 a.m. and by noon, one motorist described it as “just one helluva mess.”
       State police set up detour points both north and south of Haverstraw at noon, diverting traffic to alternate routes, but sightseers and the curious still jammed the area.
       At the height of the drama, as many as 500 firemen and police were in and around the scene.
       Fire-fighting units from Haverstraw. West Haverstraw, Stony Point, Garnerville, New City. Valley Cottage, Congers, Nyack and Spring Valley all had apparatus at or near the blaze.
       Throughout the late morning and afternoon, small drumlike explosions could be heard inside the tunnel. Firefighting officials said these were probably from exploding tires and gas tanks.
       The chemicals listed on the train, besides the hydrogen peroxide, included 800 bags of Bethyl Thenol, which officials said would burn at 200 degrees and give off a noxious odor—but was non-poisonous.
       A spokesman from the Dow Chemical Co. also said the company had a report that one of the “piggy-back” trailers was carrying an insecticide petroleum substance that was not explosive but would, if burned, give off irritating fumes.
       By early afternoon, Penn Central had moved giant, 100-ton cranes into position at both ends of the 1600 foot tunnel, and officials were waiting only for the heat and fire to subside before trying to remove the derailed cars.
       It wasn’t until about noon that a “jerry-rigged” system was set up that pumped water from the Hudson River.
       Then high pressure hoses were used to “cool down” the north tunnel entrance and huge fans, called “smoke extractors” were set in place to suck out the thick black smoke.
       At one point in the mid-morning, a Haverstraw fireman said: “This is the most frustrating fire I’ve been to—and I’ve been going to them now for about 30 years.
       “We don’t know what’s in that tunnel; we can’t get the right kind of water pressure; nobody seems to know what Penn Central is going to do. It’s a mess ... a real mess.”
       For most of the morning and through the early afternoon, there was nothing the gathering of firemen could do but look at the thick, black smoke tumbling skyward from the tunnel entrance.
       Penn Central spokesman Joe Harvey said the original 52-car train was bound from Kal[a]mazoo, Mich., to North Bergen, N.J.
       He said the train was made up of three diesel engines; 38 auto carriers; and 12 flatbed cars carrying semi-trailers.
       The three diesels and 14 other cars, five of them carrying new automobiles, were scattered across the tracks inside the quarter-mile-long tunnel.
       He said the semi-trailers carried an assortment of cargo, including washing machines; auto parts; chemical fertilizer; glass; and cardboard.
       Penn Central officials said they would not try to move the derailed cars until either the fire was put out or until it eventually “burned out.”
       Harvey said the stretch of Penn Central tracks involved would “definitely” be out of commission for three or four days and that freight traffic would be re-routed.
       He said it was too early to put any estimate of damage to the roadbed, the cars or the cargo. “It’s obviously going to be up in the millions of dollars. We just don’t know yet. ...”

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. © 2024 by The Historical Society of Rockland County. #FBF Flashback Friday may be reprinted only with written permission from the HSRC. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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