Tag Archives: train accidents

Did You Know About These Local Train Wrecks?



beckaa.jpgPhoto of the Franktown Station where the horses and cattle went to market  from the book Beckwith Then and Now

February 3, 1880 – head-on collision at Franktown

Ottawa Citizen 6 Feb 1880

It appears that the train which arrives here at 7.40 in the evening is timed to cross the express going to Ottawa at Carleton Place Junction but last evening the Grand Trunk train was over an hour late and the Ottawa train waited for it.  After waiting at Carleton Place for some time, the conductor of the express coming south received an order from the train dispatcher to cross the Ottawa train at Franktown.

 The above train proceeded to Franktown and the conductor and engineer went into the station to receive their orders.  The station master was out, he having gone down the track to signal the train coming from the south.  The conductor and engineer on coming out of the station house heard the other train coming, when the engineer jumped on his engine and reversed her, but by this time the train from the south was in close proximity and a collision could not be avoided.

 The engineer and fireman of the express coming south jumped and the two engines came together with a crash.  The engine on the Ottawa train was not much damaged but the other was badly smashed, but not bad enough to stop its backward motion.  It ran the train back for nearly two miles, the only employee on board being a brakeman who at last succeeded in stopping the train.  The night was very stormy and signals could only be observed a short distance.  An investigation will be held when further particulars may be expected.



Photo from the Carleton Place Canadian from the Wanda Lee Morrison and the late Joan Kehoe collection.


1969, January 21 – 34 cars derailed between Carleton Place and Almonte, Canadian Pacific Chalk River subdivision.

This was caused by a broken wheel on the fifth car behind the locomotives. Ottawa Journal 1969

CARLETON PLACE-  Attempts to clear the $500,000 wreckage of 34 freight cars piled up at a level crossing near here Tuesday continued this morning under the threat of an explosion from two overturned propane gas tankers.

Provincial police kept guard over the area, about three miles north of here on Highway 29 at the CPR crossing, as about 50 men and two giant cranes hauled twisted box cars from the clogged line.

The highway remained closed to traffic today while other trains were rerouted.

The two tankers were not ruptured in the massive 3.30 p.m. derailment, but police kept hundreds of curious spectators well back from the scene in the event leaking gas might explode.

Both police and railway officials were astonished that there had been no injuries.

One of the first cars to derail left the tracks just before the level crossing and sliced across the highway only a few feet in front of a waiting school bus.

Box  cars stacked up

Other cars ripped up sections of the highway, railway lines and wooden ties as they piled up, and in some cases, landed on top of one another.

One freight car landed with its steel wheels on top of a tanker.

Two hydro poles were sliced through by other cars. The top section of ome pole was left dangling over the line supported only by the high-voltage cables.

Complete wheel assemblies of many cars were torn off as they piled into one another and lay strewn along the tracks among sections of line, twisted cars and splintered ties.


Train Crash Theory – Wheel is Blamed

A crack which caused the leading wheel of either the fourth or fifth car to come off is believed to be to blame for the $500,000 freight train crash near Carleton Place yesterday.

It is known that at least eight rails between Almonte and the accident scene were broken.

Faulty wheel likely

This could have been caused by the faulty wheel running out of line and pounding against the rail as the east bound train headed for Carleton Place, said one railway employee.

The 60-car freight train left Chalk River several hours before. Its speed at the time of the accident was estimated to be about 45 m.p.h.

George G. Sayer, assistant superintendent for the Smiths Falls division of CPR, said work crews were concentrating their efforts to pulling cars away from the tracks and repairing breaks so regular traffic, which had been diverted to other lines, could again travel the main line.

Mr. Sayer said he hoped the two cranes, one brought in from Smiths Falls and the other from Sudbury, could pull the two tankers back on to the tracks and pull them away by sometime this afternoon.

“The line should be open again by about 5 p.m. today,” he said, adding that the general freight being carried by the train could then be hauled away and the other cars righted and moved later this week.

Mr. Sayer said there was, as far as he could tell, little damage to the cargo.

One eye-witness, Bill Ritchie, 32, a Bell Telephone employee from Almonte, was driving north toward the level crossing when he saw the red signal lights begin flashing.

“I saw the train swaying so I stopped about 500 feet from the tracks,” he said. “The next thing I saw were freight cars flying through the air like cardboard boxes in a high wind. It was terrifying.”

He said a couple of cars shot across the highway “while the others piled up on the north side like magazines thrown on the floor.”

“There was a hell of a crash and snow flying in the air. A lot landed on my truck so I jumped out and after a minute or two ran up to the tracks. I thought people would be hurt,” said Mr.Ritchie.

He said that by the time he got there, people from the locomotive, that had shot through the crossing pulling three cars and dragging a fourth without wheels, met him.

“One box car just missed the school bus, which luckily didn’t have any children aboard, and another cut into the hydro poles and the warning flashers,” said Mr. Richie.

“There was a ball of fire in the sky when one hydro pole was cut off,” said Mr. Ritchie, who added that he and a work-mate then flagged down cars until police arrived.




1974, June 5 – Eastbound freight train #76 derailed the last 16 cars of its 73-car train at Almonte.  The cars ended up over the bridge into the Mississippi River, and hit the flour mill at the highway 44 crossing.



Lin Jones‎ –E.P. Clement. my grandfather has many pics of Almonte of old.

Ottawa Citizen 5 June 1974

ALMONTE (Staff) The last 16 cars of a CP Rail freight train jumped the track while crossing a bridge and smashed into a flour warehouse here early today.
The derailment caused extensive damage but no injuries.mThe end of the 73-car north-bound train swung off the track at 3.35 a.m. walloping a warehouse adjacent to the Almonte Flour Company mill.

Two empty tank cars tumbled into the Mississippi River. Few of the derailed cars were carrying freight, a CP Rail spokesman said. The wayward train uprooted more than 800 feet of track and blocked Highway 44, the town’s main traffic artery. The highway remains closed today as work crews struggle to clear away the wreckage. The warehouse, constructed in 1820, is a local landmark near the centre of town. It was vacant when the accident occurred.Mill manager Jack Harris described the accident as spectacular. “Incredibly, no one was hurt,” he said.

The train was making its regular run between Chalk River and Smiths Falls. The two CP trains scheduled to pass through Almonte today will be rerouted over CN tracks, the CP spokesman said. CP Rail is investigating the derailment but has not yet determined the cause. Damage has not been estimated.


Related Reading

The Glen Tay Train Wrecks of Lanark County

55 years ago–One of the Most Tragic Accidents in the History of Almonte

The Kick and Push Town of Folger

Train Accident? Five Bucks and a Free Lunch in Carleton Place Should Settle it

The Glen Tay Train Wrecks of Lanark County

The Men That Road the Rails

Tragedy and Suffering in Lanark County-Trains and Cellar Stairs

The Titanic of a Railway Disaster — Dr. Allan McLellan of Carleton Place

What Happened on the CPR Railway Bridge?

Debbie Dixon and The CPR Bridge Incident in Carleton Place–Linda’s Mailbag

So Which William Built the Carleton Place Railway Bridge?

The Mystery Streets of Carleton Place– Where was the First Train Station?

Memories of When Rail was King- Carleton Place

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage

I was Born a Boxcar Child- Tales of the Railroad


Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read.

Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in Hometown News and now in The Townships Sun



Train Accident? Five Bucks and a Free Lunch in Carleton Place Should Settle it


train_wreck_1974_no6 (1).jpg

Photo from almonte.com

Almonte Gazete March 4th 1890

The town was thrown into a state of intense excitement on Wednesday forenoon by the report that the Soo train, doe here at ten o’clock, had been wrecked near Graham’s station, that the cars had gone down an embankment, and that at least one life had been lost and every passenger on the train more was injured. The balance of the day the accident was the subject most talked 0f,  being impossible to obtain any reliable account of the disaster, the telegraph wires being required by the officials.

The reports that had been received were as they went from mouth to month greatly exaggerated, and the excitement and suspense increased proportionately. Immediately on receipt of the intelligence here all the available medical men were requested to hasten at once to the scene of the disaster, a wrecking train having in the meantime been despatched from Carleton Place.


Photo from almonte.com


Prs. Lynch, Reeve and Gemmill, and Messrs. J. Lawson, V.S., D. H. Davis, W. M. Rea, J. Dunlop and W. Martin responded to the call for help, and at Pakenham were joined by Dr. Jamieson, Dr. D. Cameron, of Arnprior, going by a later train. On arrival at the scene of the accident Drs. Dickson and Bedard, of Pembroke, and Rattray, of Cobden, were found in attendance, and the pleasing intelligence learned that all the passengers had been got out and the injured ones attended to, that no lives were lost, and that with two or three exceptions the injuries were not serious.

The most serious ones were Mrs. Munro, mother of Mr. J. W. Munro, contractor, of Pembroke, and aunt of Mr. J. M. Munro, of Almonte, who had. three ribs broken and was otherwise severely injured. The cook of the dining car, Mr. Duclois, of Montreal, was very badly scalded. He was in the kitchen of the car when it went over, and the boiling contents of the range were poured over him. His escape from instant death was one of the most miraculous. His injuries are very severe and painful, his arms, face and the upper part of his body being badly scalded. Another miraculous escape was that of Mr. Thos. Mackie, of Pembroke, who was seated in the rear of the dining car smoking when the shock came. He was thrown from his seat with such force that the veneered ceiling of the car was stove in where his head struck againat it. He received two severe scalp wounds, but was able to be around.


Photo from almonte.com

Mr. T. R. Horn, of Pembroke, also received pretty severe injuries, being badly braised about his side and back, and very much shaken up. Mrs. Munro was placed in a car and made as comfortable as was possible under the circumstances, the others being taken to the residence of Mr. Graham near by.

The accident occurred about 9:40 a.m., a quarter of a mile beyond Graham’s station, the rails having spread while the train was passing round a curve just after crossing Graham’s bridge. The engine— a heavy Mogul—kept the track, but the tender and entire train of six can were thrown off, the four rear ones—a Pullman, a dining and a first class and a second class—turning over on their sides, and going down an embankment about ten feet high. As the cars overturned the passengers, seats, baggage, lamps and everything movable wen thrown in a promiscuous heap, many of the wounds and bruises sustained being caused by the falling furniture. That about seventy passengers could pass through such an experience without the lose of a single life, and with so few serious injuries, can only be attributed to the providential ruling of the Supreme Being in whose hands all our lives are.


Photo from the Carleton Place Canadian from the Wanda Lee Morrison and the late Joan Kehoe collection.


Following we have a list of the injured ones as far as could be ascertained : Mrs. Munro, Pembroke, three ribs broken and other injuries. Mr. Thos. Mackie, Pembroke, severe scalp wounds. Mr. Thos. R. Horn, Pembroke, side and back bruised. Mr. J. O. Dunlop, Pembroke, bead cat. Mr. Julius Blaisdell, Pembroke, head cut and bruised. Mrs. Cardiff, Pembroke, braised about the face. Two children with her escaped unhurt. Mr. Henry Duclois, Montreal, severely scalded. Mr. Stephen Smith, of Maryland, Pontiac Co., Que., back hurt. Mr. James Jones, Montreal, back slightly hurt.


Mr. A. G; Fields, Minneapolis, bound for Woodstock, N.B., face and scalp wounds and bruises on body. Mrs. Walker, Old Superior, slightly hurt. Mr. E. J. Antell, Brooklyn, N.Y., leg and left shoulder injured. Mr. Edward Gravelle, Ottawa, heat, pretty badly cut and shoulder strained. Mr. Jos. Joly, L ’Orignal, head cut ant right arm injured. Mr. John English, Toronto, was knocked senseless and badly cut about head. Miss Bertha Delahey, daughter of Mr. John Delahey, of Cobden, slight. Mr. James Wark, Forrester’s Falls, slight bruise on face. Mr. Nicholas Larkin, Minneapolis, head, face and hand cut. Mr. Henry J. Morrow, Schuyler, N. Y., head cut aud bruised. Mr. W. H. Maxwell, Toronto, leg bruised. Capt. Davy, West Broughton, head cut. Mr. A. E. Mullburg, Fergus Falls, Minn., head cut. Mr. Jerome Ford, Concord, N.H.


The passengers were treated to a free lunch on arriving at Carleton Place by the company. The loss to the company will not be very heavy, the cars not being very badly damaged. A large gang of men was put to work clearing the track, and in a few hours it was again open for traffic. A passenger train was made up and left for the east about four o’clock, having on board all the passengers except those belonging to Pembroke and vicinity. The action of Mr. Jerome Ford, of Concord, who, though injured himself, worked manfully in rescuing the passengers, and would not consent to have his own wounds dressed until all were removed from the cars, is spoken of in terms of highest praise.

Mr. W. R. White, of Pembroke, the company’s solicitor, was promptly on hand, and poured balm into the wounds of many of the injured in the shape of $5 and $10 bills, on condition that the amount paid relieved the company from any further liability in the matter. Some refused to settle.

Mr. Jno. English, of Toronto, is an official of the Central Prison, and had in his custody “ Wild Bill” Mulligan, of Pembroke, whom he was taking to the Central Prison, where he had been sentenced for one year for theft. He was hand-cufied to the arm of the seat in the second-class car, and when the car went over Mr. English was rendered insensible from a blow. Wild Bill by a vigorous effort released himself, and, being uninjured, at once set to work to rescue his custodian, which he did, and not only remained by him until he had regained consciousness, but made no effort to escape. Mr. English was greatly pleased over the conduct of his prisoner, and will use his influence to have the sentence cancelled, or at least shortened. It certainly was a very manly act of Mulligan not to take advantage of his keeper’s misfortune and clear out, as he might easily have done. his departure for the land of Uncle where he hopes to make a fortune in a few years. Our wish is that his hopes may be fully realized.

Read the Almonte Gazette here


Related Reading

Linda’s Dreadful Dark Tales – When Irish Eyes Aren’t Smiling — Our Haunted Heritage



The Railroad Thanks You For Giving Up Your Life for “Safety’s Sake”


Sometimes I shake my head at the loss of local life given up courtesy of the C.P. R. or C. N. R railroad– especially exiting moving trains before they reached Carleton Place. Was there not some safety program awareness available to the local populations of Canadian towns? There wasn’t a day that did not go by that someone didn’t lose a leg, arm, or life somewhere– all in the name of the railroad. Even the cows marched weekly across the Carleton Place bridge and down Bridge Street to the train station were not exempt from trouble.


August 1909

Mr. P. McDermott, age 29, the only son of Richard J. McDermott of the 11th line of Beckwith died on August 7th at Warman Junction in Saskatchewan on duty in the C.N. R. yards. The local police reported that the young lad had only been employed by them for three years as a trainman. He was described as a splendid young man and transferred to Winnipeg from Carleton Place. McDermott was a first class trainman and much esteemed by his associates.


The residents of Carleton Place also mourned his loss as he was the former baggage master at the Carleton Place C. P. R. station. The young man was best known for finding a broken rail just west of Ashton while walking along the C.P.R. track near his home. It was only because of his prompt action that a fast incoming train was stopped in the nick of time. It was McDermott alone that prevented what would have been a disastrous wreck. For that he received an expression of gratitude from the executive of the C.P.R. The remains left Saskatoon and reached Carleton Place on the following Thursday. It was said he was thrown a funeral nothing short of that of a heroe.


The deadliest crossing was on Lanark County Road 17- just north of Hwy. & 7. In 1986 they finally went to the Canadian Transport Commission to get a signal after all those years of accidents. The crossing still had an average of 400 cars a day, yet the trains had been cut down to 2. A signal with a bell and flashing lights in the 80’s cost over $80,000.

Photos from the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum

Police car photo:

1947 Cadillac sedan limo. It was owned by a doctor in Toronto. He gave it to CPR president Buck Crump to be converted to ride on the rails. It was used by managers and such to go around. It has a turntable underneath so that it could be turned around on the track to go back the way it came.

From the Railway Museum of Eastern Ontario

“If you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know who you are!” —The late Edna Gardner Carleton Place

Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place