Historic Trenton’s Day in the Life: May 19, 1910

For Historic Trenton’s Day in the Life, we’re looking back through newspapers from the beginning and examining everyday problems, solutions, and needs during historic Trenton’s past. Today, we return to May 19, 1910, where a railroad merger was creating profits for Trenton. 

On this fair weathered Friday, the merger of rail lines in Trenton was the talk of the town. Since the early days, Trenton has always boasted a railroad station in the city. According to https://www.greatamericanstations.com, Camden and Amboy (C&A) built the first station house for passengers and cargo on Trenton’s East State Street in 1837. 

One railroad connecting Trenton to the world was the Newark–Trenton Fast Line, an eclectic rail line from Newark to Trenton via Elizabeth and New Brunswick. This was known as the Trenton & New Brunswick line until May 19, 1910, when The Elizabeth & Trenton Railroad incorporated with the Trenton & New Brunswick, putting their capital stock at $1,200,000.

The charter then declared that it would abide by all of the provisions set by the Trenton & New Brunswick line. The next move was to merge with the New Jersey Short Line Railroad, an extension of the mainline that went through Milltown, New Brunswick and Elizabeth. This would complete the merger in 1913, opening the Trenton railroad to the public on July 1, 1918. 

In other news, it was a late morning for Trentonians as they groggily got up after trying to stargaze the night before. They joined spectators across the east coast who spent the night searching for Halley’s Comet as it zoomed past the Earth. 

Within the city, there was anxiety about a possible collision with Trenton and the Comet. “Trenton is very glad it is still on the map today,” writes the Trenton Times. “Yesterday there was some worriment in the community as to just where we be this morning.” Between the bright moonlight and the placement of the Earth, Trentonians were barely able to see the comet as they gazed out into the night. 

Lastly, according to the Times, Frank W Britton, a well-known young man in Trenton at the time, was making headlines for his daring escape in Maine. Britton was staying on the third story of the Corrina Hotel in Maine. At around 2 a.m., he woke up to a loud crash. Britton opened his eyes, jumped out of his bed, and realized his room was full of smoke.

His first thought was to run to the door, so he swung it open to see the hallway flooded with flames. He slammed the door shut and glanced around, but he couldn’t see anything. 

He decided to try to make his way to the window by feeling the wall. Once there, he looked out to the three-story jump over the crowd gathered at the bottom. He took one glance back to his room and chose to jump. He first landed in a tree, dangling from the branches, then that tree branch gave way, and he fell several feet before his pajamas clung to another branch, and he was able to climb up. 

He survived with minor injuries and had planned another trip to Maine later that month.

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