New Jersey Death Trip

Last Wednesday, while at the yearly “Toms River Antique and Collectible Expo” (featuring exhibits from the local antique motor enthusiasts’ club!), I came across two framed xeroxes of the wreck of the Morro Castle. Growing up so close to the crash site of the Hindenburg might instill as sort of “ho-hum” attitude towards mass transportation disasters in local youngsters but, man, those Morro Castle pictures that would inevitably turn up in any class trip to the shore area’s small, historic museums were damn haunting. Holy g-g-g-g-ghostship!

But I’m glad to be reminded of this event as a slightly strange, slightly disaster-tripping adult. The photos still make my blood feel a little funny in my veins, but now I can’t stop looking for new and different shots. I’ve compiled a small selection over the past few days and I apologize in advance for being meager with the photo credits.

For those unfamiliar with the history of the wreck, asburyparklibrary.org has a nice summation taken from wikipedia:

“The SS Morro Castle was a luxury cruise ship of the 1930s that was built for the Ward Line for runs between New York City and Havana, Cuba. The Morro Castle was named for the Morro Castle fortress that guards the entrance to Havana Bay.”

“In the early morning hours of Saturday, September 8, 1934, en route from Havana to New York, the ship caught fire and burned, killing a total of 137 passengers and crew members. The ship eventually beached herself near Asbury Park, New Jersey and remained there for several months until she was eventually towed away and sold for scrap.”

“The devastating fire aboard the SS Morro Castle served to improve fire safety for future ships. Today, the use of fire retardant materials, automatic fire doors, ship-wide fire alarms, and greater attention to fire drills and procedures resulted directly from the Morro Castle disaster.”

The wreck became a tourist attraction during its time at the foot of the Convention Center. It made it on to post cards and I was even able to find a family photo taken with it as the back drop.

The best photos that I was able to find came from a flickr.com page and were scans from a lot of photos purchased from ebay.

Definitely check out Christian Montone’s collection for more photos and shore ephemera.

And, in case you are wondering, yes! there is a historic marker to commemorate the wreck and yes, it is accessible via the Historical Marker Database!

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