|Ottawa Citizen 4 October 1939|
Note - several letters missing from the left hand edge of most of this account. I have inserted missing letters.
Her Bravery Prevented Wreck of Freight Train Back in 1893
Lady Heard Dam Break Near Maxville and Ran Down Hill to Find Roadbed Washed Away. Flagged Freight Train in Early Hours of Morning by Waving her Skirt. Heroic deed Awarded With Life Pass on Railroad
The life of an engineer on a raillroad is one of constant danger and thrills. There are the per? of open switches, broken rails and what not. Engine crews have many near-accidents - narrow escapes. The public hear only of the incidents which happen.
A terrific smash-up of a long freight train would have occurred on the Canada Atlantic Railway in the year 1893 but for the courage and foresight of a woman, whose name unfortunately, the narrrator has forgotten. The lady lived near Maxville.
Early one spring morning in the year 1893 freight train No. 15 of Canada Atlantic Railway was on its way to Ottawa. Harry Brown of Ottawa was the engineer in charge.
Daylight was just breaking and the train, with thirty-five freightcars, was about two miles west of Maxville, when Engineer Brown noticed an object on the track a distance away. At the moment the light was very uncertain, and as the train got nearer, Mr. Brown made out the object as a woman. A few seconds later he saw that the woman was frantically shaking her skirt.
Signalled for Brakes
Engineer Brown, realizing that the woman was flagging the train because of some danger ahead, at once signalled for brakes. At that time freight cars only had hand brakes, which were applied from the tops of the cars by ratchet wheels. Bringing a heavy freight down to a full stop was thereiore a slow operation. In due time the train ground to a stop, but not before it had gone some distance past the woman.
When it did come to a stop it was only a few feet from a great gaping hole in the roadbed, a hole big enough to bury the engine and car.
It appears that the dam on a lake on a hill above the railway track had broken sometime before daylight and the on-rushing water had cut its way through the roadbed. As the ?g had been carried away, the ? had broken. Had the train not been warned, one of the worst wrecks in the history of railroading would probably have occurred.
The story told to by the Engineer ? Brown by the lady was that she had been able to avert the wreck because of the fact that her house, being on the hill near the lake, she had been able to hear the noise of the water rushing out of the lake during the night. Knowing that a freight train passed each morning about 5.30, she dressed and ran down the hill to see what damage had been done. Her fears were realized when she saw the gaping hole. Then she ran up the track for about half a mile and awaited the coming of the train.
Mr. Brown took the lady's name, thanked her and later reported her brave act to the company. Among other things, the company presented the lady with a life pass on all Canada Atlantic passenger trains.