I recently vacationed in Spring Lake, New Jersey, along the Jersey shore. A very nice little town. On a quiet morning, we walked over to the local historical society. And, there it was: an oar from the S.S. Morro Castle, the great luxury passenger ship that caught fire off Asbury Park on September 8, 1934, then ran aground just feet from the Asbury Park beach. In all, 135 of the 549 people aboard the ship were lost.
Captain Robert Willmott is interred at Green-Wood Cemetery. He had proudly supervised the construction of the Morro Castle. Captain Willmott died just hours before the fire was detected; some have argued that he was murdered and the fire was then started to cover up that crime. It is 75 years ago today that this great ship, and so many of its passengers and crew, met their fate. Captain Willmott and his wife were married on October 7, 1933; they never got to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Remember them next month.
Click here for my account, from my book Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery: New York’s Buried Treasure (available for sale on the cemetery website; thank you for asking), of the Morro Castle disaster.
Want to read still more about the tragedy of the Morro Castle?
For a Morro Castle slide show.