Water + disaster = the perfect summer movie, no? Here are some similarly thrilling reference questions we've had this July.
A patron explained to me that he watched a NOVA episode a few years ago about how the last ice age formed the Hudson River and the New York harbor when an ancient lake in upstate New York broke through a dam. He had forgotten the name of the lake and when it happened.
Woods Hole published a press release on their web site about this event (which it dates to 13,350 years ago) and names the lake: Glacial Lake Iroquois. The press release begins, "Imagine a lake three times the size of the present-day Lake Ontario breaking through a dam and flooding down the Hudson River Valley past New York City and into the North Atlantic."
Ian and Jenny Giddy have a summary of the geology of the Hudson River at watertrail.org with wonderful phrases like "bulldozing mile-thick glaciers" and "huge tongues of ice".
Information was also requested about the collision between a ship and a bridge over the Raritan River decades ago. The patron could not find anything on it using Google. We found an article about the crash in the Historical New York Times, an online database that goes all the way back to 1857. On March 4, 1966, train service between Perth Amboy and South Amboy was disrupted for weeks when a cargo ship hit the Raritan River Drawbridge.