April 15 1887 Almonte Gazette
The C. P. R. Co. have struck a lot of hard luck of late, and there seems to be no let-up to it. What with accidents by snow-slides, run-offs, collisions, &c., and the severe snow-storms of the past winter, they have been experiencing quite a serious time of it. The latest we have to report is one entailing serious financial loss by destruction of rolling stock and impeded traffic, but providentially no loss of life.
We refer to the which took place on the C. P. R. track opposite the residence of Mr. Thomas McCann, a mile this side of Pakenham, early on Tuesday morning last. This spot has been regarded with suspicion for years past by residents of the neighbourhood. The express for Winnipeg that morning was somewhat late, and when passing over the scene of the slide the passengers got a good shaking up, showing that the earth had at that time been wearing away from the track a little. An examination of the wheels of the express was made at Pakenham, and everything was found right. A freight train composed of empty box-cars followed the express three-quarters-of-an-hour afterwards, the engine running backward at the head. Just as the engine cleared the fatal spot the the right side of the track, stopping the train suddenly.
The tender was pretty badly smashed, as was also the cab of the engine, the engineer and fireman having a narrow escape with their lives. The fireman received a slight injury on the forehead. The train stood for but a short time when the earth (probably owing to the action of the frost and the water) began to slide away from beneath the track,, and all at once one of the centre cars broke from the others and slid with the earth to the river—a distance of between and 75 yards. Two cars and the van were still left en the track at the rear end of the train, and the men lost no time in making themselves scarce there from.
It was well they did, too, for after some time another large section commenced to slip, and all three cars were precipitated to the great chasm below. The third car from the engine turned a half-somersault, and remains, minus wheels, &c., bottom side up halfway down the steep divide ; while the second remains suspended over the brow of the hill in an exceedingly dangerous position. The whole presented —one that pen cannot properly describe. Nearly 100 yards of the track and earth were carried away. The Mississippi at that point will be narrowed by about twenty yards as a result of the accident.
The ice was heaved up along the shore as if there had been a tremendous ice-shove, while for acres both up and down the river it was broken into large cakes. The railway fence and a telegraph pole which were alongside the track remained for some time in about the same position on the shore of the river as they had occupied up above, which will serve to show what a large portion of the earth must have become detached from its original position. The momentum obtained by the moving earth may be judged from the fact that large clods were on the river and remain thirty or forty yards from the opposite shore.
Fortunately the box cars were all empty, being on the way to McLaughlin Bros. yards at Arnprior to be filled with lumber ; otherwise the loss to the Company would be very much heavier. Every car was smashed more or Iras, while the engine was badly damaged, it will be a big job to haul up the cars that are now lying around promiscuously on the hank and in the river. is laid by most people who have visited the scene to the action of the water and the frost. The water probably insinuated itself into minute cracks, which were widened and deepened by freezing during the winter. The fissures thus created, under the influence of the late warm weather, may have produced the landslip. Or the bed or strata supporting the superincumbent mass may have absorbed water enough to render it slippery, causing the slid, in chat way n getting a gang of men to work to clear away the wreck and build anew the portion of the track that was taken away.
Mr. H. B. Spencer, Assistant Superintendent, was early on the scene, with a large staff, to look after the interests of the Company. The passengers and baggage on the express from Winnipeg were transferred about nine o’clock, a special train being sent for the purpose, so that comparatively little delay was experienced by the travellers. It will take two or three days to get the m shape again. Since the above was written some ten to fifteen feet of earth where the new track was laid has disappeared
A very large staff of men has been put on and the work is being pushed ahead as rapidly as the circumstances will permit. Word from the scene of the accident this (Thursday) forenoon is to the effect that about thirty feet of the earth that was being prepared for the road-bed went away during last night. Some spectators are said to have narrowly escaped being carried down with it. The C. P. R. Company have purchased the field adjoining the Stack from Mr. McCann, and will make a circuit through it, commencing some distance back in order to ensure perfect safety. This will entail a lot of heavy work, and it will be almost impossible to have the track ready for trains to cross for a week or two, at least. Mr. C. W. Spencer is now on the scene superintending the work
April 22, 1887 Almonte Gazette
The Pakenham Landslide has been visited by thousands of people during the past ten days. Mr. Spencer estimates the loss to the Company by means of it at about $15,000. The route through Mr. McCann’ s field was ready for the first train last Saturday afternoon. The rails were laid on the ground, making it a pretty rough piece of road, with quite a hill to climb at the end nextto Pakenham. It required two engines and a pretty full head of steam to accomplish the trip. Freight had been accumulating very rapidly, and on Sunday train after train was rushed through in order to catch up. The cars that went down with the slide will be fished up and repaired.
April 29 1987–Almonte Gazette
On Friday night last about twenty feet more of the earth at the scene of the accident near Pakenham slid away, taking with it the portion that had been partially prepared for the rails. This proves that it was a wise move to make the circuit through the fields. The officials of the road have not yet decided whether they will make the route now in use permanent or build trestle-work and use the old route. In either case it will be quite a big job.
Where was the Pakenham Station?
Pakenham, ON-Photo by Andrew Jeanes, 21 April 2014
West off highway15 in Pakenham on to White Fish Lake Road, ½ km west to Five Arches Drive at end of street on left hand side. Former CP Pakenham Station, moved a short distance away from the former right-of-way and in use as a residence. CLICK