Tuesday, November 6, 2012

February 17, 1950: Rockville Centre Train Derailment

The other morning I woke to find my father had left me a stack of old family photos bundled together by a rubberband. Really dad, really?? A rubberband?

Anyway, among the photos were these 7 pictures. I can not identify anyone in them or where exactly it was photographed or by whom BUT, there is a date written on the back; "Feb. 1950."

 So I googled "Long Island train derailment February 1950" and found this entry in wikipedia

February 17, 1950 – Rockville Centre, New York, United States: Two passenger trains collide head-on at Rockville Centre train station. The engineer of train number 192 ignored an Approach and the following Stop signals and collided with train number 175 on temporary gantleted (overlapping) track which had been installed to facilitate a grade separation project. Both engineers survived but 31 people were killed, and more than 100 people injured.[1]


My father would have only been 2 1/2 months old at the time of this accident. My grandfather was a machine operator. I suspect he may have been the one to take these pictures and perhaps he worked on the crash site. I don't know for sure but I am now on the hunt to understand how we came to hold on to these pictures for so long.


  1. I believe that the first is that of my Father William E. Van Deusen, who worked for the RVC Power Plant and was a fireman. He spent the night cutting victims out of the train.. He is the one with the cigarette and plaid shirt. I have an idea of who is standing next to him.

    1. Linda, My sister has an old home (1878) on Long Island and she had the front stairs replaced. One of the kickboards was signed on the back CC Van Deusen Painter RV Centre 1891. I did a google search for his name and came across this blog.

    2. Hi,unknown, I hope Linda sees this comment. If you or your sister would like me to I can help find out some info on the Van Deusens for you. let me know

    3. Hi April, I thought Linda might get a kick out of seeing it. I have a picture of the signed riser (my bad not a kickboard). My sister decided to leave it intact in the repaired staircase since that is where she feels it belongs. Hopefully it will last another 126 years. If Linda wants I'll forward the pictures. Thanks.. Tony

    4. CC Van Deusen, was born in Hudson, NY area circa 1838. He and most of his family left that area about 1860 to NYC and LI.. Marrying Emma Watts (dau. of Capt. Samuel and Catherine Abrams Watts. CC died at the age of 98. His obituary's are remarkable. A photo of his handiwork, would be great.. As I said way back when, no one knew of the photo of my Dad over looking the wreck. He worked at the power plant, one of his talents was welding and I understand he and others helped cut the injured out.. Thanks all

  2. Wow, Linda. I am so glad you commented on this post. Was your father a member of the RVC fire department? I have a follow up post about this accident that lists all the victims.

  3. Hello,
    Just looking at saved pages and it appears I didn't answer you. He was a member of the RVC fire department. If you would like I can find which one.. Sorry for an over a year delay..