But the Atlantic had other Ships of Hell as well — such as the Morro Castle. This doomed ocean liner’s infamous pedigree is now etched into polished black granite, at the spot where its burned-out hulk drifted ashore in Asbury Park, New Jersey, on September 8, 1934. As the memorial asserts, it was “one of the greatest maritime disasters in American history.”
The Morro Castle was only a couple of miles off shore when it was caught in a storm, its captain died of a heart attack, and then a big fire broke out. 137 passengers and crew perished.
“The still-burning Morro Castle beached itself in Asbury Park,” reads the text on the memorial, “and became a major tourist attraction” — something that the deep-sixed Titanic never accomplished. In fact, the Morro Castle shares its closest calamity kinship with the Hindenburg: fire, death, 1930s, big floating thing, New Jersey.
The Morro Castle Memorial occupies prime real estate just south of Asbury Park’s Convention Hall, next to the boardwalk and the Greek Orthodox “Man of Love” statue. It was unveiled on the 75th anniversary of the ship’s unscheduled arrival. A local historical society member told the Asbury Park Press, “We just felt it was time to acknowledge the disaster.”
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