Sunken Locomotives in Canada

From time to time we receive reports, stories, rumours about locomotives that have fallen into lakes, rivers or swamps and have been left there.  We will list these here by province together with any corroborating evidence we can obtain. It should be emphasized that many of these stories are just that - a story with no hard evidence to back it up.

British Columbia
Anderson Lake Pacific Great Eastern 2-8-0 #56 hit a rock slide and fell into Anderson Lake on August 12, 1944.  #56 remains in Anderson Lake.

Seton Lake Pacific Great Eastern 2-8-0 #53 hit a rock slide at Mile 117 on January 3, 1950, and derailed into Seton Lake, killing the engineer and fireman.  #53 remains in Seton Lake.

Slocan Lake Canadian Pacific 2-8-0 No. 3512 fell off a barge in Slocan Lake on 31 December 1946.  See 'The Shipwrecked Hogger', CRHA #256A of May 1973 which also refers to page 83 of Bulletin Number 83 of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society of Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
"Constructed in Kingston" by Donald McQueen and William Thompson page 231.
In September 1919, all the Moguls (serial 1233 to 1238) were sold to the CNR becoming C-5-b 415-420, including the ill-fated McArthur 22.  It had derailed into the mud of Armstrong Lake, Manitoba, from a failed trestle in 1915.  Because recovery was anticipated, it was assigned a CNR road number in 1919, but CNR subsequently abandoned it as a submerged wreck in October 1920.
New Brunswick

   The 120-Year-Old Mystery of the Missing Locomotive
Grand Falls New Brunswick - COVID-19 has halted a lot of fun activities across Canada, but it may also have helped solve a great railway mystery.
Whatever happened to Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) locomotive number 508 after it plunged into the St. John River?
That mystery has puzzled some residents of this New Brunswick town since a spectacular railway accident here on 21 Jun 1900.
Locomotive 508 was pulling a combination freight and passenger train from Edmundston to Fredericton across the wide St. John River when the wooden trestle collapsed
The collapsed bridge over the St. John River at Grand Falls - 1900 Photographer?
Most of the train plunged into the river, but the passenger car was at the end of the line and it landed on the rubble of the trestle with the freight cars and stayed above the water.
There were many serious injuries, but miraculously no deaths.
The bridge debris and rail cars were pulled out of the river, but apparently, locomotive 508 was never found.
There are no photos or documents of its recovery.
Although the missing locomotive doesn't puzzle most residents of Grand Falls, it does Eric Ouellette, a 42-year-old structural engineer with Canadian National Railway (CN).
He was a 21-year-old engineering student at the University of Moncton when he first learned about the trestle's collapse close to his Grand Falls home about 100 years earlier.
What intrigued him about the incident was the rumours that Locomotive 508 was never found.
That didn't sit well with his engineering brain.
How can a 35 ton steam locomotive simply disappear?
Ouellette's full-time job with CN is to check on the safety and condition of thousands of CN bridges and culverts in the Maritimes.
That includes keeping a close eye on CN's longest and highest railway trestle in Canada, which stretches 3,920 feet across the Salmon River 195 feet below.
And his part-time job is operating Zip Zag, a zip line that Ouellette designed and built across the gorge at Grand Falls, where the St. John River plunges into a ragged canyon before flowing through town.
It's one of the province's most popular vacation stops, but COVID-19 has shut the operation down this summer.
That gives Ouellette more time for his other passion, searching for 508.
He believes the elusive engine is near Zip Zag, above the roaring falls.
On 4 Jul 2020 a multi-beam ground-penetrating radar device Ouellette was operating on the river above the falls may have stumbled upon locomotive 508.
While floating on the river's surface aboard a small self-propelled boat, the radar scanning device detected about eight to 10 tons of metal under a large pile of silt and sand sediment on the river bottom.
Ouellette says 508 weighed about 35 tons, but parts of the locomotive would have fallen off from the plunge into the river.
"The cow catcher at the front and the front wheels were never really attached to the locomotive. It was just the weight of the boiler that kept the front axle attached. They would have separated with the plunge into the river. The same with the big smoke stack. Most of 508's weight comes from its two big drive wheels on either side, the steam pistons that drive the wheels, and the mechanism that connects the drive to the boiler. The cab was made of wood and has likely disintegrated," Ouellette said.
The river is much deeper today than it was in 1900 because a power station and dam was constructed in the 1920s just above the waterfall and created a small lake.
Ouellette says a construction vacuum system could suck away much of the sedimentary deposit to reveal what metal is hidden there.
If it is 508, and he can get it to the surface, Ouellette would like to see it on display at the nearby abandoned CP station that was waiting for that train to arrive in 1900.
Railway debris from the accident he recovered from the river in 2003 was donated to Du Reel au Miniature, a railway interpretation centre in Edmundston created by Guy LaForge.
It has a large selection of miniature railways, plus a one-eighth-size railway that can carry up to 6,000 pounds on a 10 minute loop through a forest.
More details about Ouellette's search for the locomotive are available at
From OKthePK ( 17 July 2020

Saint John River, Canadian Pacific, Shogomoc Subdivision, mileage 82.7. RS18 8739 is still buried in a washout near Bath, NB., which occurred on 1 April 1976.  It was officially retired on 12 May 1976.

  Lakefield From Paul Delamere August 2014 -  correspondence with Gordon Young Editor of Lakefield Heritage Society.
There were at least two derailments on the Grand Trunk "missing link" near Lindsay.
The area is very soft and the derailments took place at the switch to the spur on the east end of Lilly Lake. From the west edge of Jackson Park, out over the swamp between the Jackson Park boundary to what is now Ackison Road, then across  Ackison Road to Lily Lake Road as it angles northwest towards Lindsay.  . Around 1900 a locomotive, tender and two cars were derailed.  The locomotive and tender were recovered but the two cars were left in the swamp.  About 1906 a second train derailed at this switch and two cars in the swamp were not recovered.  In neither case was the locomotive abandoned.

  Marlbank  An industrial locomotive was left in an old marl pit which filled with water after the cement plant closed in 1914.  It is buried up to its stack in silt/clay and the stack has been seen just under the surface. This will likely be an 0-4-0ST, No. 34 which was used in the area in the 1890s.  A picture of No. 34 can be seen at: (link dead)

The Tweed News v138 n12 20 Mar 2024 p1 c1

Uncovered after more than 100 years
By Roger Hanna

[Photo Caption] After over 100 years underground a locomotive engine has resurfaced; dug up by Scott Trudeau Construction Recently. The engine had been on the site of the former Marlbank Cement Plant.

History has been uncovered in Marlbank.
After decades of hearing all the rumours…Where is it? Did it really happen? It is over there? The discovery has finally happened when, on March 8, 2024, a locomotive that has been buried underground for over 115 years has been found.
The locomotive ran off the tracks at the Marl Plant in Marlbank at the turn of the 20th century around 1909 and it has stayed there ever since. Since then, one legend holds that during a violent strike, disgruntled employees boarded the engine, opened the throttle and ran it into the part of Dry Lake where it has stayed since. Another story was that the steam engine, while running its last load back to the factory, was thought to be going too slow by the superintendent who opened the throttle wide open. The engine was unable to be controlled at this time and jumped the tracks, landing in the lake.
Both of these stories have been told countless times over 100 years.
At that time the engine could not be recovered. There were always rumours on where it could possibly be, with residents having their own opinion but Scott Trudeau Construction, Tweed, took it upon himself to look for the locomotive and bring it up from the ground.
Trudeau purchased land on Dry Lake in Marlbank and then took it upon himself to set the goal of finding the engine and bringing it up from ground after so many years. Trudeau began the process by building a laneway into the site and once at the presumed site, Trudeau found where the old railway tracks were located. He then began digging on March 8, 2024 with excavators and shovels when all of a sudden there appeared the steam pipe.
Once that was found they knew they were in the right location with care taken at that point to not jeopardize the engine, not knowing what kind of shape it would be in.
Once the steam pipe was found, the engine slowly appeared and all was uncovered including a rail underneath the mud and water. Trudeau and his team were using pumps to keep the area clear of water due to the location so close to the lake. It will be a heavy move for as the engine could weigh approximately 30 ton.
In the late 1890s the marl native to the area was found to produce excellent cement and soon afterwards a plant was constructed. Within a short period of time there were many employees with the peak of operation producing 30 - 40 tons of marl per day. It took 100 men to operate this factory. The marl was then transported by the Bay of Quinte Railway. With the cement being such high quality it was used to build the famous Suez Canal, as well as bridges in Quebec. At the time, Marlbank was a thriving location with banks, taverns, blacksmith shops, churches, a railway station, schoolhouses and numerous stores. In 1915 the plant closed and some of the stone blocks that were used at the site were then used to build Albert College in Belleville.
Over the course of this past weekend, Trudeau and his team have completely removed the engine from its buried site and will be taking it to a yet to be determined location.

  Meath  There is a locomotive buried up at what CP used to call Meath siding, where highway 17 crosses the Chalk River Subdivision just east of Pembroke, near the crossing of the Mukrat River.  When the CPR was being built through the area, it was quite swampy, and I think still is.  One of the construction engines supposedly keeled over and sank in the quicksand in the 1880's, and apparently is there to this day, although probably well chewed up by time. (Bruce Chapman)

  Mud Lake  I am wondering about a rumoured sunken locomotive in or near Mud Lake. I've heard this tale several times, and many years ago spoke to a diver who claimed to have seen the locomotive and remains of one or two freight cars. What the diver described to me sounded like a 4-4-0, but take this with a very large grain of salt. He wasn't a railfan, just someone who claimed to have found something interesting.The story comes in two flavours, one on the O&Q near Mud Lake, and one on the new line in Mud Lake. (Steve Hunter)

  Ottawa (Greens Creek). There was a report that a buried locomotive had been found at Greens Creek during the excavations for the eastern extension of the Confederation Line.  This was dated 1 April 2021 and was a pleasant April Fool's Joke.

  Schreiber From Heritage Railway September 2014 p. 35
See also - article by George Pearce in Branchline February 2000
- "Finding CPR 694 by Andrew Krueger Branchline March/April 2017

Hunt for Sunken Ten Wheeler
A bid to locate a locomotive that sank into a lake 104 years ago has been launched.
It was on June 10, 1910, that the engine and tender of Canadian Pacific Railway D10 4-6-0 No. 694 and two carriages derailed after striking rocks and slid 65ft down an embankment into Lake Superior in Ontario.  The driver, fireman and brakeman died. Scuba divers are now searching for the wreck.
The Lake Superior Steam Locomotive Group and the Municipality of Schreiber are working with Discovery Charters to rediscover the wreck believed to be lying in about 200ft of water 45 miles east of Schreiber.
The aim of the expedition is merely to photograph the locomotive and confirm its identity.  No items will be removed from the site at this stage, but the ultimate intention is to display relics in a local railway museum.
A total of 502 D10 'Ten Wheelers' were built between 1905-13, making them the largest class of engines used by Canadian Pacific in the 20th century.  Extremely versatile yet built to a simple design, they were used in passenger, freight and yard service until the end of the steam era in the early 1960s. Seven survived into preservation.
Lake Superior Steam Locomotive Group spokesman Doug Strefurak said he would ideally like to see No. 694
raised from the lake but believes the cost would be prohibitive.

On 19 November 2014 OKthePK reported "Recently divers located the locomotive's pony wheels but the engine lies deeper in 275 feet of water near a box car found at that depth."

23 August 2016 update from OKthePK
106 Years Later D10 Wreckage Found in Lake Superior

Rossport Lake Superior Ontario - On 10 Jun 1910 Canadian Pacific Railway locomotive number 694 struck a rock slide, derailing the engine, tender, and two carriages, sending the train sliding down a 65 foot embankment into Lake Superior.
The driver, fireman, and brakeman all lost their lives.
The D10 4-6-0 locomotive hasn't been seen since, until now.
OKthePK Joint Bar Editor:  Incorrect. The engine was first photographed in 2014.
A team of divers located the wreckage on 22 Jul 2016 approximately 235 feet under the lake's surface, between the towns of Schreiber and Marathon on the north shore of Lake Superior.
A remotely operated underwater vehicle recorded the video found above showing the locomotive caked with years of rust and decay.
One online commentator on the above footage, Will Gant, gave his impressions of the video saying, "The main rod (which attached to the cylinders) is bent completely backwards, the piston rod is still attached, but you can't tell if the piston is actually attached. The cylinder itself is broken off completely, though you can see the rear steam port, stack is missing, but the petticoat is still visible inside, bell is gone, the yoke is broken off. I think there is a good chance the builders plates might still be attached to the smokebox, didn't see obvious signs of them, but didn't see bolt hole to indicate they were missing either. Might be covered in silt on the side of the smokebox. (there is a builders plate on each side of the smokebox) There seems to be a large steel pipe that has crushed the cab, that's not part of the engine, my guess is that it is cargo or some sort, it appears to be just as rusty as the engine itself. The throttle is still on the backhead, the shiny handle is the automatic brake stand to control the train brakes. Of interest is its in the release position, meaning the brakes were not applied, so either the crew never saw what was coming, or the wreck forced it back into release (though its not broken or scratched). The Johnson bar (reverser) is still attached to the cab but is twisted out to the side of the engine. The safety valves are still attached to the auxiliary dome."
During an initial dive in 2014, one of the two boxcars was located at a depth of 285 feet, 200 feet from the locomotive.
There are no records of any other wrecks in the area, but the team hopes to locate the builder's plate to confirm the locomotive's identification.
Between 1905 and 1913, 502 D10 class "Ten Wheelers" were built.
The versatile engines were used by the Canadian Pacific Railway in passenger, freight, and yard service until the early 1960s.
Seven of them have been preserved.
It is not believed that CPR 694 will ever be moved from its current location.
Ultimately, relics from the site may be displayed in a local museum.
The team plans to return in August to take more photos and video from the site.
Anonymous Author.

The underwater video may be found here at YouTube.

More information may be found in the article The Legend of CP 694

  Sherkston  David Gilchrest has seen two quarry locomotives in 35 feet of water in the Empire Limestone quarry at Sherkston, near Port Colbourne.  The quarry and its equipment was abandoned in 1910 and was later flooded.

  Sydenham From the Rideau Record 7 October 1913
East of Sydenham the greatest difficulty has been with a series of sinkholes the worst of which have been found in a boggy spot near Perth Road where the line crosses an arm of Stonehouse Lake. A large gang has been employed for over a year now dumping material into these holes. A short time ago the track settled settled out of sight in one of them, carrying with it a big construction locomotive and several cars. The engine was recovered the other day and was sent to Montreal to be repaired. The cars have been abandoned. It will take some time yet to complete the work at that point but the trouble has been overcome which is evidenced by the fact that Sir William and party made the trip over the whole line without accident or misadventure of any kind.

  Trout Creek   A few months ago I was told of a locomotive that went off of a bridge under construction around the year 1886. The Northern Pacific Junction Railway was under construction from Gravenhurst to North Bay when they ran into problems in a swamp near the town of Trout Creek. You can see the old rail bed and the stone bridge abutments, but they changed the direction of the rail line, which still operates today.  Apparently the locomotive is still in the swamp, which I would like to verify. (Jamie Toeppner)

Port Arthur (Thunder Bay) An industrial 0-4-0 shunter used in building the breakwater in Port Arthur harbour was either scrapped by running it into the drink or it fell in. This occurred about 1910. I know it is there because my father, who was GM of Port Arthur Shipbuilding, sent a diver down to take a look. It was there alright, and the brass whistle was recovered. I have it somewhere among my railway bits. (David Page).  This would be one of the narrow gauge Chambers, McQuigge and McCaffrey locomotives listed under Port Arthur in the Industrial Locomotive Listing at:  Industrial locomotives in Ontario

  Thunder Bay (Gunflint Lake) There was a rumour in Port Arthur that a Shay logging loco had fallen into Gunflint Lake, about 50mi. SW of the Lakehead at some point in the 30s-40s. Never confirmed, but I recall hearing someone say that they had seen it. This is possibly the shay (Lima 2712 of 12/1913) now displayed at Atikokan (David Page)

Montreal, Turcot  About ten years after the railroad began operations, two locomotives quietly disappeared into the swamps before the astonished eyes of railway workers. One belonged to the Montreal and Lachine Railroad and the other to the Grand Trunk.The latter was lost in 1855. As far as anyone knows the locomotives are still buried deep under the Turcot yards.

St. Lawrence River if anybody would have a lead on the ship's log from the steamship Merlin from December 1881, I'd be most grateful... there's a certain little PEIR Hunslet 4-4-0T on the bottom of the Gulf of St. Lawrence... somewhere.. (Steve Hunter)

Thurso  Parts of the first locomotive owned by the Thurso and Nation Valley Railway may have been dumped into Cairo Lake, mile 27.75 in 1936.  See Thurso Railway #1
Gulf of St. Lawrence
From Steve Hunter 2 September 2016

In 1881, The Harbour Grace Railway bought five 1872 Hunslet 4-4-0Ts from the Prince Edward Island Railway: First #2, First #3, First # 4, First #5, and First #6.

During a storm on the way to Newfoundland, one of these locomotives fell off the deck of the SS Merlin and was lost in the Gulf of St Lawrence. It is still wherever it landed, but despite a good scare, the Merlin made it safely to Newfoundland. Unless the ship's log is preserved somewhere, the exact location is unknown.

On 26 Jan, 2015, at 12:59, Gow Harry wrote:
For publication as an article or letter:

The repatriation branch of the British heritage  locomotive movement has a new subject to tantalise its members.  HMS Erebus, lost in the search for the Northwest Passage by the Franklin Expedition, has been found in the Arctic's Queen Maud Gulf by a consortium of searchers headed up by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society (on September 7th, 2014).  This originally all-sail ship had its steam power supplied by a locomotive, purchased by the Admiralty in 1845 from the London and Greenwich Railway, and suspended amidships. While this is not totally clear, the locomotive is thought to have been L&G R No. 4 Twells, a Robert Stephensons 1830-designed Planet-class 2-2-0 engine.,  Certainly, a cutaway side elevation of the ship published in the Society's magazine Canadian Geographic in December 2014 shows the front elevation of a small locomotive that looks like a Planet facing the port side of the ship.  The magazine says the locomotive generated 25 horsepower, and that the as-yet undiscovered companion ship, the Terror had a 20 hp engine.

What happens next is not yet fully clear.  The Erebus has been sonar-outlined and photographed, and will be further explored by divers if all goes well. The hunt is still on for HMS Terror farther north.  Canadian Geographic suggests that while industrial archeologists will be excited by the prospect of recovering an ancient locomotive, on balance the most respectful thing may be to leave the ship where it lies as an undersea monument to the 129 lost British officers and crew of the Franklin Expedition

On Jan 28, 2015,  David Jeanes wrote:

I was very interested to look at the book I have "London's First Railway: The London and Greenwich" by R.H.G. Thomas. It read:

"The old Marshall engine No. 4 (Twells of 1836) seems to have ended its days in interesting, but very tragic circumstances. ... a description of the departure of the expedition on the nineteenth (May 1845) ended with the following reference to the Erebus 'The screw propeller is worked by an engine of 25 horse power, which formerly ran upon the Greenwich Railway.' ... what eventually became of the ships has also remained a mystery. Abandoned in 1848 by the survivors of the expedition, themselves to perish, the two ships are believed to have sunk in Arctic waters off King William Land, Northern Canada; so at least the remnants of one Greenwich Railway engine may well exist today beneath the ice of the north-west passage."

Twells was John Twells, a member of the original L&GR Railway Board of Directors. Marshall was William Marshall, proprietor of the Eagle Steam Factory, Great Bridge, Wednesbury. The locomotive was one of four he built for the L&GR in 1835, the first being the "Royal William" of which there is a (probably partly conjectural) drawing in the book.

The locomotive was mounted athwartships in a well behind the mainmast and the main axle was extended to become the propeller shaft. A similar engine was on the sister ship Terror and they could move the two ships at about four miles an hour. However, they could only carry enough coal for 12 days.

See also:

Update September 2016
In the Ottawa Citizen of 13 September 2016 it was announced that the wreck of the Terror had been located, presumably with a locomotive still on board.

Off Shore

Information provided by Doug Smith

Letter from R Pringle-Scott, 5 July 1977.
Hydrographic Office, 1995.
(Classified as wooden barque, with cargo of railway locomotives: date of loss cited as 16 August 1857). Thomas: this vessel was wrecked at Orsay Light. Capt. Hall.
Registration: St Johns, N[ew] B[runswick]. 765 nrt.
(Location of loss cited as N55 40.32 W6 30.87).
I G Whittaker 1998.
[Accurate location not cited]. The Thomas sailed from Greenock on 14th August 1857 for Halifax, Nova Scotia. She was towed out of the Clyde estuary but subsequently became becalmed and was wrecked on submerged rocks off Islay on the 16th August. The crew was saved but all the cargo was lost. No systematic attempt was apparently made at salvage but some items (including an anvil) were recovered by grappling.
Prominent among the items borne as cargo there were the disassembled components of two steam railway locomotives, packed in crates for assembly on arrival and intended to work on the Nova Scotia Railway, which was built on the broad gauge of 5ft 6ins (1.68m) then in use. It connected Halifax with Truro via Windsor Junction and was intended to form part of a trunk route from Bangor, Maine, USA through St John to Halifax.
Known locally as the 'railway engine wreck', the remains were rediscovered in 1976 with guidance from the late Mr McKinnon; the mechanically-polished brass fittings were immediately apparent at a depth of 15m in an area of gullies subject to severe wave action on the seaward side of Orsay, No stratigraphy or structural remains of the hull were apparently observed and no artefacts related to the ship were recorded.
The locomotive parts were investigated and recovered (as 'Operation Iron Horse') by amateur divers of the RAFS-AC and Staines Diving Club under (then) Squadron Leader M Corbishley, RAF from 1977 onwards. Visibility was variable, but generally poor, and swell was a constant problem. Plastic explosives were used to break up the kelp-covered concretion and release the locomotive parts, which were generally in a good state of preservation, although worn down by mechanical action in some cases. The non-ferrous fittings were typically in better condition than the ironwork, which required conservation.
The locomotives represented were initially thought to be 0-4-0 saddle tanks, but discovery of the builders' plates showed that these were works numbers 386 and 387 of Messrs Neilson and Co, Glasgow. These 4-4-0 tender locomotives were built in 1857 to a highly Americanised 'export' design; the diameter of the driving wheels was 5ft (1.52m).
Among the components represented there were wheels, connecting rods, parts of boilers and fireboxes, and smaller pieces. Pieces of trackwork (including chairs) were also found. All these artefacts passed to the National Railway Museum, York, in 1998, and are currently (October 2002) on display. They are significant as an unparalleled assemblage of components of the period in 'as built' condition.
Information from Mr D Wright and Mr R Hollowood (National Railway Museum, York), October 2002.

 The Legend of the Lost Locomotive, Jay Underwood, Canadian Rail Sept-Oct 2002

The loss of two locomotives off Scotland in August of 1857 when the ship Thomas sank is recorded in the engineer and accountant's reports to the House of Assembly.

The second loss involves the ship Equator, which was caught in a storm during its passage from Portland, Maine to Halifax in July 1866, carrying a locomotive for the Nova Scotia Railway, built in Kingston, Ont. In this case, according to research by Harry Dodsworth of Ottawa, the ship did not sink, but being caught in a storm, the engine may have been cast overboard. The journal of the House of Assembly for 1868 refers to the locomotive as having been "lost from" the Equator, and not that the ship was lost. Equator ran a regular route between Portland and Halifax, and the weather was frequently inclement.

Updated 10 April 2024