• GCT Explosion 1910

  • Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.
Discussion relating to the NYC and subsidiaries, up to 1968. Visit the NYCS Historical Society for more information.

Moderator: Otto Vondrak

  by chnhrr
 
I happen to come across the bit of New York Central history which is some interest.
At the turn of the last century Pintsch gas was popular for the illumination of passenger cars. It could withstand the rigors of moving and swaying cars without the extinguishing of conventional oil lamps. The gas and lighting system were developed by the German firm Julius Pintsch AG. The NYC produced this gas at Port Morris and piped it through the St. Mary’s tunnel to a storage tanks at Mott Haven. Early in the morning tanks cars would bring the gas to a smaller storage facility north of Grand Central.

Many of you were too young to remember this, but back on December 19, 1910 a train had brake failure in the 50th Street yard and slammed into a buffer. The train derailed and severed one of the Pintsch supply lines. The leaked gas eventually ignited setting off a tremendous explosion. About 15 people killed and scores injured.

I wonder what other ‘oops’ the New York Central had?

Ironically Julius Pintsch AG morphed into Pintsch BAMBAG which currently manufactures safety products for railroads and merchant marines.

New York Times articles of the period. (Photo courtesy NY Times Archives)

Title:
TEN KILLED, SCORES HURT IN EXPLOSION; Pintsch Gas Blast Brings Death and Ruin at the Grand Central Station.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.h ... 5B808DF1D3

Title:
TO RE-ENACT GRAND CENTRAL EXPLOSION; Miniature Pintsch Gas Plant to be Shown To-day at Inquest into Disaster of Dec. 19.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.h ... 5B818DF1D3

Title:
QUESTION RAILWAY ABOUT EXPLOSION; District Attorney Asks Central Officials Significant Questions as to Responsibility.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.h ... 5B808DF1D3

Title
TO BAR PINTSCH GAS FROM GRAND CENTRAL; Explosives Commission, with the Mayor's Assent, Will Order All Tanks Removed.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.h ... 5B808DF1D3
  by Tommy Meehan
 
chnhrr wrote:Many of you were too young to remember this, but back on December 19, 1910 a train had brake failure in the 50th Street yard and slammed into a buffer.
Yes you would have to be well over one hundred years old to remember that one! :)

Without rereading the articles the train involved was an MU train going to midday storage I believe. Didn't the engineer say the wheels slid when he braked?

Another note was the Grand Central Terminal building was still in process of being erected and the area around 50th Street was still in the open. Not sure if that made it better or worse.

I also recall reading about the streetcar that was knocked over by the blast. One of the New York papers other than the Times had photos (in a library microfilm collection) of the overturned car.

Central had some mishaps over the years but it might be tough to top that one. I think it's great that this incident has been recalled. The details actually reveal a lot about the transition period between the old terminal and the new.