The Hudson River Tunnel

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The Hudson River Tunnel

"The Hudson River tunnel, designed to give passage for railroad trains under the wide body of water that separates New York from New Jersey, is again in the process of construction." (Scientific American Supplement February 22, 1890)
Construction on the tunnel was started on the New Jersey side in November 1874 under the supervision of the "eminent engineer, Mr. D. C Haskins". A month later an injunction halted construction until September 1879. Work proceeded smoothly for a while until on July 21, 1880 there was a blowout, causing the tunnel to partially collapse and be filled with water.

The blowout occurred around 4:40 in the morning while the men were about to change shifts. Twenty eight men were in the tunnel, twenty men where caught inside the tunnel and died.

Eight men actually escaped: Thomas Brady, miner, Chris Hanson, Miner, Barney McGovern, keeper of the air lock, T. Van Outerstirp, miner, A. J. Moline, miner, Thomas Crimmins, miner, John Doyle, miner, and James Hays, miner.

Another report listed: Thoams Brady, Charles Hansom, Bernard McGovern, Stephen Van Nostrand, J. A. Moline, Thomas Crimmins*, John Doyle and James Hayes.

*Also listed as Cummings in some papers.

Daniel Donovan, one of the night gang, missed going to work because he ran into some friends who invited him for a drink. He arrived at the pit a little drunk and the assistant foreman refused to admit him.

List of Dead according to the New York Sun, 22 July 1880 and New York Times:

  1. Peter Woodland, assistant superintendent, age 25, Jersey City. (age 35, Pavonia ave. wife and one child NYT)
  2. Frank Oleston, forman, age 25, Jersey City. (NYT)
  3. James Crever, age 25 Jersey City. (James Creary age 35, wife and two children NYT)
  4. A. Erickson, age 50, Jersey City. (age 50 NYT)
  5. Peter Feisher, age 27, Jersey city. (Peter Fisher age 24, NYT)
  6. Patrick Kirwin, age 26, Jersey City. (wife and one child NYT)
  7. Charles Nelson, age 30 , Jersey City. (Charles Neilson age 23 New York NYT)
  8. William A Bagley age 32, JC. (Henderson street, near 13th JC, wife and 2 children NYT)
  9. Andrew Jacobson, 29, JC (age 29 NYT)
  10. Bryan Sheridan 478 First st JC. (age 46 wife and one child NYT)
  11. Charles Svenson, age 23, JC. (NTYT)
  12. Thomas Bruns, foreman, age 21, Cornelia ave JC (Thomas Bruns, mother and two sisters depentent on him, NYT)
  13. O. Anderson, age 21, JC. (Oloff Anderson age 21 NYT)
  14. Frank Burk age 23 Hoboken. (Hoboken - NYT)
  15. Matthew McCarty Hoboken. (Matthew McCarthy NYT)
  16. Patrick Broderick 246 First st, JC. (unmarried age 22 NYT)
  17. Otto Beselen age 22, JC. (Otto Breslen age 27 NTYT)
  18. John Jensen, age 30, JC. (NYT)
  19. Patrick Collins of JC. (age and residence unknown NYT)
  20. Michael (Mike) Broderick of 68 Canal st JC. (unmarried brother of Patric NYT)

Another report listed the following dead: Pat Kerwin, assistant foreman, Charles Stevenson (Swedish), John Jansen (Danish), Otto Breslein (Swedish), Andrew Jacobsen (a Russian Finn), John Ericksen (Swedish), and Frank Olsen (Swedish, foreman), all single, except Ericksen.

The tunnel was being constructed into the silt of the river with the theory that compressed air could support the silt roof until steel plates were put in place. This was followed by a brick structure. Consequently at the time of the blowout there were areas of masonry, areas of steel roofs and areas of silt roofs. Escape shafts were place at intervals along the line. When water started to leak in and a noise was heard that indicated an air leak Assistant Superintendent Woodland gave the order to get out and the men rushed for the air lock.

It was said that work would resume as soon as all the bodies were recovered. A heavy rain storm made the work of recovering the dead "toilsome".

Needless to say this incident cast a pall on the tunnel construction.

Wages for the men working on the tunnel in 1880 were $1.75 to $2.00 per day. The work was exhausting and there were problems with sickness after coming out of the air locks.

Work on the tunnel stopped again in November 1882 when the death of the president of the company, Mr. T. W. Park, cut off the necessary funding.

Work was again commenced in 1890 with English financing. In an article in the Scientific American of February 22, 1890 it was stated that the tunnel was in "a position for rapid completion." That endeaver also failed and the tunnel was allowed to fill with water.

In 1899 the project was sold in receivership and three years later was taken over under the leadership of William McAdoo.

1890 - Scientific American Work in Progress on the Hudson River Tunnel.

In 1902 construction was resumed and resulted in the completion of the first route of the tunnel which opened on February 25, 1908. The train ran from Hoboken to Morton street in Manhattan, then on to 6th ave and 19th street, nearly three miles. The fare was a nickel. This was the first section of a planned network of tubes connection Jersey City, Hoboken and Manhattan.

The remains of the original tunnel was part of the 1908 tunnel system.

The Hudson River Tunnel 1908

On February 20, 1908 a "party of friends" which included two Miss Erxmeyers, Mr. F Erxmeyer, Mr. H. Erxmeyer and Mr. E. Erxmeyer and Miss Volkman walked through the new Tunnel from Hoboken to New York. (Jersey Journal, Feb 28. 1908). See Erxmeyer

My grandmother, Meta Petermann Land, and her sister, Annie Petermann Wulpern, always said that they walked through the tunnel before it opened. See Petermann

The Hudson River Tunnel was formally opened on February 25, 1908. The first train through the tunnel went from Manhattan to Hoboken. The trip was initiated by President Teddy Roosevelt when he pressed a button at the White House in Washington, D. C.. See The New York Times

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

The Hoboken curve. The Hudson and Manhattan Railway Tunnel (McAdoo system) under the Hudson River

Posted 1908

Hudson River Tunnel.

No postmark

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Printed on back:

Tunnel under the Hudson River connecting Jersey City and Hoboken with New york City

Posted 1908

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck
Two views of the Hudson River Tunnel, Hoboken, N.J.

The card on the left is postmarked 1909. The card on the right is not postmarked

Hudson River Tunnel

Entrance at Lackawanna Station, Hoboken Terminal

Post marked 1909, Jericho, Vermont

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Hudson Tunnels

Entrance from Lackawanna Station, Hoboken Terminal

Post marked 1908

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Hudson Tunnels

Mezzanine Floor, Hoboken Terminal. Copyright 1908

Postally used but not dated.

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Hudson Tunnels

Train Platform, Hoboken Terminal Copyright 1908

Postally used but not dated.

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck

Postcard collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2017

Interior of one of the most improved tunnel cars - Hudson & Manhattan R. R. company s tunnel - posted 1908 April 18.

Collection of Maggie Land Blanck, 2017

Opening of the New York and Hoboken Tunnel, February 25, 1908

Mr. McAdoo addressing the invited gusest at the Hoboken entrance. The size of the crowd indicates the interest taken in the tunnel.

William Gibbs McAdoo

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© Maggie Land Blanck - Page created 2004 - Latest update, March 2017