UPDATE — Rare Footage Of Westport’s 1912 Train Wreck

UPDATE: Katherine Motes Bennewitz sent along these fascinating links to newspaper accounts of the event:  




There is absolutely no connection with this story to any current event, locally or nationally.

But it’s a fascinating look into Westport’s past nonetheless.

Indefatigable “06880” reader/historian Mary Gai unearthed newsreel footage of the worst train wreck in our history.

On October 3, 1912, the New York, New Haven & Hartford’s “Springfield Express” derailed near Davenport Avenue, just west of the train station.

The engineer failed to slow down. The steam locomotive derailed — followed by a baggage car, mail car, 4 parlor cars, 3 coaches, and a smoking car.

Wood splintered; glass smashed — and soon the air was filled with shrieks and cries.

Seven people died, and 50 were injured.

Here is a short video of the aftermath of that crash:

10 responses to “UPDATE — Rare Footage Of Westport’s 1912 Train Wreck

  1. Judith Ann Johnston

    Wow – if only I could talk to my Grandfather about this. Charles Johnston was an Engineer for many years with this New York New Haven Hartford railroad line.

  2. what a find. A rare gem indeed. Horrific tragedy was really awesome, in the true sense of the word

  3. Seth Schachter

    Dan – I’m out of town right now but when I return I can email you some interesting photos of this tragic train accident. Fascinating video footage! Thanks !

  4. Ann Urciuoli Allard

    Does anyone know if there was another train derailment during that time where the train fell into the Saugatuck River?
    Elder Family members have passed around a “story” about this.

    • Seth Schachter

      Yes- I believe it also occurred the Same year. I’m traveling right now and don’t have the details but I seem to recall the train being called the Merchantile Express. I have press photos from this train wreck.

  5. Diane Silfen

    My mother also talked about the train into the river. She talked about it being during HS days and that would have been mid 30’s she graduated in 36 from Staples

  6. I think the one that fell into the river was reported as being in Norwalk. It could have been in Saugatuck but Norwalk was so much more well known back the day. And the city line is right there. These accidents made national news. I think the station was a few hundred yards north back in the day.

  7. May 6 1853 was the train falling into the river. Accident. It happened in Norwalk and was the worst train disaster ever unail that point. It captivated the nation’s attention for weeks following. I’m sure you would have been able to see it down the tracks from Saugatuck back in the day. 53 people died scores more injured. It’s everywhere online.