Have you heard the one about a train, a schooner, and a drawbridge?

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Train Disaster 1904
Locomotive poised above the Laurel River after crashing through a drawbridge and plunged into the river, 1904, Laurel, Delaware. Photograph by Albert H. Waller.

What’s going on here? Its definitely not your typical maritime photograph.

It’s a curious story. I came across the photograph quite by accident. It was filed under Golden Gate. On the morning of June 20, 1904, the schooner Golden Gate just happened to be passing under the drawbridge at Laurel, Delaware, when this locomotive broke through and plunged 50 feet into the Laurel River.   Read more

Tragedy on the Mississippi

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The Assassination of President Lincoln, Courtesy of Library of Congress. Call No. LC-F81- 2117 [P&P]

A Somber Day

Today marks a somber day in the history of the United States of America. 155 years ago, our country suffered its, to this day unbeaten, greatest maritime disaster by loss of life. If that seems surprising to you, then you aren’t alone. It is, unfortunately, a chapter of our collective maritime heritage that has been largely forgotten. Why? Because it happened at the end of April in 1865.

If you’re familiar with the history of the American Civil War, then you no doubt know that April of 1865 was one of the most formative years of our Union. It was a month that saw union forces march into Richmond and high-profile surrenders that led to the end of the war. It was the month in which Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed by actor and confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. The day immediately before the disaster, Booth was cornered in Bowling Green, VA, and slain by Sergeant Boston Corbett of the 16th New York Cavalry.   Read more

Icebergs, Trials, and Cannonballs Make for an Adventurous Life!

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A photo of the iceberg that may have sank the Titanic.

Oftentimes when we ask a guest what ship are they most interested in learning about, their response is, “The Titanic!” It is definitely a mesmerizing and very romanticized story, but there are numerous ship tragedies with equally dramatic stories. A quick Google search turned up more than 25 ships that sank due to collisions with icebergs, and we have images of at least four additional ships in our collection. And those are just the iceberg tragedies!

One tale of a ship hitting an iceberg is particularly thrilling and made international news, which for the late 1700s is really saying something. HMS Guardian left England in September 1789 heading for Port Jackson, today known as Sydney, Australia.   Read more