When the Great Blizzard of 1888 Hit Princeton

One of the worst storms ever to hit the United States is typically known as “Great Blizzard of 1888,” but you may find it referred to as the “Great White Hurricane.” In it, Princeton students played a historic role in rescuing passengers aboard a train stuck in a snowbank, people were trapped inside for a week or more in most northeastern cities, and residents of the Atlantic coastal region had stories they would tell for generations.

Princeton students freeing a trapped train during a blizzard, March 12, 1888. Historical Photograph Collection, Student Photographers Series (AC163), Box SP1, Image No. 39.

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This Week in Princeton History for March 7-13

In this week’s installment of our ongoing series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, Nassau Hall is almost totally destroyed, undergraduates rescue stranded train passengers, and more.

March 9, 1770—The Providence Gazette reports that James Caldwell (Class of 1759) is on his way back to Princeton from Charleston, South Carolina with ₤700 he has raised for the College of New Jersey.


The Board of Trustees acknowledged Caldwell’s efforts at their next meeting on September 26, 1770. By then he had reportedly raised over ₤1,000. Minutes of the Board of Trustees of the College of New Jersey/Princeton University, Vol. 1, Board of Trustees Records (AC102).

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