Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Early Automobile Accident and Explosion on Shore Road Near Travers Island in 1902

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog transcribes an article that appeared on the front page of the April 26, 1902 issue of the New Rochelle Pioneer that described an early automobile accident and explosion near the entrance to the New York Athletic Club facility on Travers Island.  The area later became notorious for speeding and serious automobile accidents.  This is one of the earliest documented instances of such an accident.  Perhaps appropriately, as transportation was evolving in the area rapidly at the time, there was a horse involved in this accident.

To Avoid Collision with Horse and Carriage Auto Collides with a Pole.

An automobile which bore the initials J.A.R. and is said to belong to Mr. Roach of New York City, exploded Saturday evening on the Shore Road, near the New York Athletic Club's Country home, in Pelham Manor.  Two men who were in the vehicle were severely injured.  The machine which was operated by gasolene [sic], took fire after the explosion and was almost burned up.  The prompt arrival of a watering cart from Pelham Bay Park saved it from complete destruction.

The machine was being driven at a rapid rate down Roosevelt's Hill, between Pelham Bay Park and the New York Athletic Club country place, and one of the men in it, it is said, was down on his knees repairing a part of the mechanism, when his companion saw that the machine was frightening a horse.  The horse was plunging and side stepping, and, in order to give the man who was driving more room, the automobile was turned out of the roadway.

It struck a telegraph pole with a crash and a loud explosion followed.  An instant later the machine took fire from the gasolene [sic], and was soon enveloped in flames.  The two men were thrown about twenty feet down the hill, and received many cuts and bruises.  Their clothing was badly torn, and was spattered with the burning gasolene [sic]. 

Jacob Schwind, proprietor of the Hunters Island Inn, was driving toward the Pelham Golf links with a party of New York people.  He and his guests hurried to the assistance of the injured men, and sent a hurry call to the Park Department for a sprinkling cart to put out the fire.  After the fire had been put out the men and their machine were taken to the Hunters Island Inn.  Mr. Schwind and the people at the inn wanted to send for a doctor, but the men begged them not to, saying that they were not badly hurt, and would try to fix themselves up, as they did not want any publicity.

After their wounds had been dressed, Mr. Schwind took the men to the Bartow station of the New Haven road, where they took a train for New York City.  They were so much afraid that their names might get into print that they declined to allow any one to accompany them, although they were still very weak when they got on the train.  The wrecked machine was left at the inn, but was taken away later."

Source:  Two Hurt in Explosion, New Rochelle Pioneer, Apr. 26, 1902, Vol. 44, No. 6, p. 1, col. 1.

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