the staff of the Ridgewood blog
West Windsor Township NJ , On this date in October 30th, 1938 at 8:00 p.m., a fictional drama was broadcast by Orson Welles, “The War of the Worlds,” on ABC Radio which created quite a stir across the country, specifically here in New Jersey.
Based on a novel by H.G. Wells, Martians land in Grover’s Mill, West Windsor Township, N.J., and begin to attack residents, police officers, and the press on scene.
This “invasion” quickly expanded across the country and fictitious news reports from New York, engineered to be part of the story, added to the realism. Citizens of New Jersey tuning into the broadcast midway through assumed that the event was occurring in real time.
The original station record, which was a hand-written log of all activity and phone calls received at a station, was kept by Trooper Vincent Mason #611 at Division Headquarters. The record has been preserved for the past 83 years (pictured below) and it reads as follows:
“Between 8:30 P and 10 PM received numerous phone calls as result of WABC broadcast this evening re Mars attacking this country. Calls included papers, police depts including N.Y.C. and private persons. No record kept of same due to working teletype & all other extensions ringing at same time. At least 50 calls were answered. Persons calling inquiring as to meteors, number of persons killed, gas attack, militia being called out & fires. All were advised nothing unusual had occurred & that rumors were due to a radio dramatization of a play.”
As you can tell from our picture, troopers on patrol that night had nothing to report…or did they??