It was shortly before midnight on April 20, 1940 when a speeding passenger train on route from New York to Chicago entered Gulf Curve in Little Falls, the sharpest curve on the entire New York Central rail system.  The luxury train had left Albany several minutes late and was already overdue at Utica's Union Station.

That part of the track was bordered by a rocky embankment.  According to, it's believed the engineer was trying to make up the time and was simply going too fast for that section of track.  It's estimated the train was travelling at 74 miles per hour instead of the posted limit of 45 for that curve.  The locomotive left the rails and exploded against the rocky cliff.  11 other cars also left the track and were ripped apart by the rocks.  Many of the 250 passengers were already in their sleeper cars at the time.

Ambulances, doctors and nurses were called in from across the valley.  31 people aboard the train were killed.  26 were passengers and 5 crew members.  At least 50 were seriously injured.  They were taken to hospitals in Little Falls, Herkimer, Ilion and Utica.  The story was front page news in the New York Times and papers across the country.

That dangerous section of track has since been rerouted.


More From 96.1 The Eagle