This Week in Princeton History for February 22-28

In this week’s installment of our recurring series bringing you the history of Princeton University and its faculty, students, and alumni, campus proctors help local police apprehend men burning crosses in town, new transportation options draw comment, and more.

February 22, 1971—Proctors Bruce Beattie and Steven Verish see three men burning a cross at the World War I Memorial Monument at the intersection of Mercer and Stockton streets while they are patrolling the campus. They report this, which is the second cross-burning incident at the site this month, to local police. Police arrest three men in connection with the incident and find Ku Klux Klan literature at the site.

February 25, 1870—Theodore L. Cuyler writes of visiting Princeton, “It still seems a little odd to reach the town by a ‘dummy’ engine, instead of the old traditional ‘Ross’s hack,’ which has dragged up all the living freight to Princeton for a quarter of a century” (i.e., in a train rather than a horse-drawn carriage).

Princeton as it appeared in 1870 with its train. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 91.

February 26, 1802—In the Newburyport Herald, “Jersey Girl” describes a young man’s vanity: “Camillus is lately in possession of a handsome fortune; and some mischievous animals, with penetration enough to discover that his ruling passion is the thirst of praise, have undertaken to apply the match to the train of vanity of which he is possessed, and have succeeded so well, that I am told he already, before strangers, makes use of the important words, ‘When I was at Princeton College,’ although he has never yet beheld the inside of Nassau Hall.”

February 27, 1900—The Daily Princetonian takes the Philadelphia Press to task for “yellow journalism” about the football team: “Such misrepresentations would be laughable, were they not imposed upon the public as the true views of Princeton men and did they not make the University appear ridiculous.”

For the previous installment in this series, click here.

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Princeton Junction & Back: Our Dinky Archives

Though New Jersey Transit lists the stop as the “Princeton Station,” locals refer to their train as the “Dinky” or “PJ&B” (Princeton Junction & Back). Recently, the station moved several hundred feet from its former site near University Place along Alexander Road, making it the talk of the town. Protests of a planned replacement of the little train with a bus spared this bit of Princeton history, which most of our readers are likely to remember. As it happens, the “Save the Dinky” movement echoes a nineteenth-century protest that both saved the train and created its route. Aside from a short-lived Boston & Albany route that ran 1.2 miles in the early 1950s, Riverside to Newton Lower Falls (Massachusetts), this has always been—and remains—the shortest passenger train route in the United States. Here we take a look at how Princeton got its tiny train and kept it running.

Princeton_1870_with_train_AC168_Box_91

Princeton Station with the College of New Jersey (Princeton) campus visible in the background, 1870. Office of Communications Records (AC168), Box 91.

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