Lehigh Freight Depot Burns


Publication: The New York Times

New York, NY, United States



Many Cars with Goods for the South and Midwest Are Destroyed.


Fire of an unknown origin destroyed last night the freight sorting and transfer station of the Lehigh Valley Railroad on the Norfolk Meadows, near Bay Avenue, and about a mile east of the shipbuilding plant of the Submarine Boat Corporation and the new Quartermaster shipping base at the Port Newark terminal. The building was a frame structure about 400 feet long and 150 wide, with about twenty railroad tracks which were filled partly with cars of freight being made into trains for shipment to the Middle West and the South.

Before the apparatus from the nearest fire station of the Newark Department could make the run of almost three miles in response to the first alarm the entire building was in flames. The fireman reported to the Newark Fire Headquarters that there was no use in sending additional apparatus, because it would be impossible to save the building or any of the cars of freight, as the flames had gained great headway in the high wind which prevailed. No other buildings or factories of any kind were near enough to the transfer station to catch fire, and the firemen confined their work to trying to save some of the cars of freight.

All the freight in the transfer station had been shipped from New York and other cities in the East to be made into trains for shipment to the interior, and none of the cars contained munitions, food for soldiers, or materials for the shipbuilding plants in the Port Newark terminal. A few soldiers from the Quartermaster shipping base at the station to make a report on the fire for Major Lamphere, commanding the guard at the shipping base.

Officials of the railroad last night said they could make no estimate of the loss until the freight lists had been checked, but they thought it would be several hundred thousands. Watchmen at the station reported no suspicious circumstances in connection with the fire.

Researcher notes:According to the August 1990 Crown Jewels Article "disaster struck the Brookfield plant in Old Bridge on February 10, 1918 when 28 freight cars were destroyed. The disaster is best told in William Brookfield's words, 'One of the worst things that happened during WWI was that Father (Henry M. Brookfield) had an enormous order of insulators finished, waiting for the engines to take them to the wharf. Saboteurs set the sidings and packing room as well as the warehouse on fire and burned the whole shipment.'" This article does not specifically mention Brookfield, but the subject and date match.
Supplemental information:Article: 10258
Researcher:Bob Stahr
Date completed:November 8, 2009 by: Bob Berry;