Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

28 July 1882 - Collision at Smiths Falls, Brockville subdivision, Canadian Pacific, 1 killed

Ottawa Citizen 28 July 1882
The half past eleven freight train on the Brockville branch, when one mile south of Smiths Falls, collided with a special locomotive and tender coming from Brockville.  Engineer Burns was killed.  Some ten freight cars were damaged as well as both locomotives.
A special carrying Sir John Macdonald arrived shortly after the collision, but returned to Ottawa after an hour's delay.

Brockville Recorder 29 July, 1882
Only having a few minutes in which to give notice of the disaster on the C.P.R. yesterday before going to press, our report was gained huriedly and was therefore quite inaccurate.  It was nearly six o'clock this morning before anyone reached the scene of the accident, and not until that hour could accurate be obtained concerning the affair.

It now seems that Burns collided with the freight train, and not the express as stated yesterday, and he was running a single engine out at the time.  He left here about 11 o'clock with a special engine carrying a white flag cleared for Carleton Place. He stopped at Irish Creek, and was there, it is said, given a clearance for Smiths Falls.  About 1 miles this side of Smiths Falls, while rounding a bad curve, he met freight train No. 39 with 21 loaded flat cars, and though the special was running comparatively easy at the time, the smash which followed is described as terrific.  The whole cylinder of the special was torn from its platform and both engines left the track.  They met just over a culvert at the crossing and as the engines fell into the hole the loaded cars piled one above the other into the wreck.  Of the whole train of 21 cars, 16 were smashed, 12 being so completely ruined that they will likely be burned beside the track today.  They included rolling stock of the C.P.R., New York Central, Grand Trunk and Utica and Black River Railways.  Both engines were also torn to pieces, the headlights being compressed together into a space only a few inches in thickness.

The first thing to do after the accident happened was to look for casualties, and search was at once made for the missing.  All hands turned up except Engineer Burns, and in three or four minutes the poor fellow was found beneach the ruins of his engine, still alive, but so horribly burned and crushed as to leave no doubt as to his having met his death blow.  When the engines came together he had been thrown against the boiler head and there held while the whole contents of the heated boiler poured from the broken gauge glass directly over his body, liberally parboiling him from the waist up.  He was taken out and conveyed to a farm house where he lingered in great agony for about 9 hours, when death ended his sufferings.

Joe Burke, the fireman of the special, jumped when he saw the freight ahead and escaped almost miraculously.  He says that as soon as the freight was sighted he told Burns of his intention to jump.  Burns said nothing but at once applied the brake to the tender and seemed ready to jump as well.  Just before Burke took the ? he saw Burns give the brake lever another turn as if to still further check the speed and then all was drowned in the crash.  Horbridge, of Ottawa, the driver of the freight, stuck to his post and was unhurt.  His fireman, young Kelly, jumped and only received a few scratches.  The brakeman, George Cavanagh, of Smiths Falls, also jumped and was bruised about the head and shoulders.  Kelly, the conductor, also esacped injury.
Of course, to everyone, it is apparent that someone had blundered, but just upon (rest illegible).

Citizen July 31, 1882.  A careful investigtion into the accident leaves no doubt that the affair was the fault of the unfortunate engineer Burns, the only person who fatally suffered as a result of the accident. 
Mr. Burns, the engineer, was at the time of the accident, returning from Brockville with his engine having gone to that place with a special.  He had special instructions to keep the train under his charge clear of all trains and obeyed these orders until he left Irish Creek, about seven miles from Smiths Falls.  Here he totally disregarded what had been told him, and instead of waiting there for the regular freight from Carleton Place then almost due, should pass him he pushed on at a high rate of speed in the expectation of reaching the next station before it had left.

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