130 Years Ago Potsdam Suffers Great Circus Wreck
One hundred and thirty years later Potsdam still remembers “the great circus train wreck of ‘89.”
On August 22nd, 1889, a Barnum and Bailey Circus train was on route to Montreal from Gouverneur following a performance. The train ended up derailed, and lead to a six-car crash and the death of horses, camels and “a trick mule.”
That crash took place at what is known as Clark’s Crossing, where the tracks cross over Route 56, two and a half miles north of the village. The road was then known as Potsdam Norwood Road, Potsdam Historian and Museum Curator and Director Mimi Van Deusen said.
NNY360 reports that between 23 and 33 horses, several camels and the trick mule were killed in the wreck. A mass burial site is still in place currently is between Route 56 and Pleasant Valley Road, where the track crosses again.
P.T. Barnum, who was vacationing at a Paul Smith’s summer resort at the time of the crash, was notified of the wreck and sent back a five word message, “the show must go on.”
At the time, it was America's deadliest circus train wreck. Now, 130 years later, retired Potsdam Elementary School teacher Cathy Cook is trying to get a historical marker placed at the crash site.
Here's more about the circus at this time period: