Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1907, September 11 - Collision at Plantagenet, Canadian Pacific, M&O subdivision




Collision between engine 1504 with 3 cars standing on the main track (coaling the engine) and extra east engine 52 with nine empty passenger cars.  Extra 52 east (running from Ottawa to Vaudreuil via Chaudiere Junction) failed to observe the position of the semaphore signal approaching Plantagenet and failed to stop before colliding with enginer 1504.  The collision took place at 30 mph at 20:15.  Fireman Blackburn on engine 52 was pinned against the boiler, head in the engine cab and both his legs had to be amputated to get his body freed from the wreck.  He died in a few minutes after being released.  Engineer Reynolds on engine 52 was thrown some distance from the wreck and was severely injured.  Engine 52 was smashed up, the ballast low and lidgerwood unloader which were ahead of engine 1504 were wrecked and the front of engine 1504 damaged but this engine was able to assist in clearing the wreck.  The main line was blocked for 10 hours.
The west semaphore was at stop but it was not Reynold's intention to stop although he should have stopped to register.  The conductor told the engineer before leaving to stop at Plantagenet to register but the engineer denied this. (RG 46 C-II-1 v. 1422 f. 6150)

From the Eastern Ontario Review Friday 20 September 1907

Bad Accident at Plantagenet
C.P.R. Fireman Killed
Plantagenet, September 12. John Knox Blackburn aged about twenty-two, a fireman, was killed and Herbert Reynolds, engineer, aged about twenty-eight of Rochester street, Ottawa, was seriously injured as the result of an accident on the Canadian Pacific Railway at Plantagenet.
Reynolds and Blackburn were found beneath the overturned engine, Blackburn dead and Reynolds unconscious. The others of the train crew escaped with slight injuries.
Fifty Miles an Hour.
The train of ten empty coaches left the Union Depot Ottawa at 8.10 in the evening, following the second section of the Transcontinental from the west. Reynolds, one of the most careful engineers on the road was in charge, with Fireman Blackburn assisting him. The cars were being taken to Montreal, and the train, it is said, travelled about 50 miles an hour, making several stops on the way down. Repairs are being made to the tracks at Plantagenet, and the gravel train was standing on a siding near the station, which is on the left side of the track, going east. Just how the accident came to occur is not yet definitely known, but the train ran into the siding and plunged into the ballast cars with terriffic impact.
Blackburn Instantly Killed.
Physicians were immediately sent for, and efforts made at once to rescue the engineer and fireman. Reynolds was first taken out of the wreckage. He was badly cut up and bruised, and it was feared that some bones were broken. He was carried to a nearby house where medical aid was given him. Blackburn was also found under the wreckage, but his injuries had proved fatal. Death evidently had come to him instantly.
Ottawa Sept. 17 - Inspector McColl of the Railway Commission, is holding an inquiry into the accident at Plantagenet, on the C.P.R. last week, in which the fireman of the express, J.N. Blackburn lost his life, and the engineer, Reynolds, was injured.
Reynolds recovering
Herbert Reynolds of the C.P.R., who was injured in the wreck at Plantagenet in which Fireman John Knox Blackburn, was killed, is doing nicely in St. Luke's hospital. He was brought to Ottawa in Mr. H.B. Spencer's private car. His left leg is crushed and his nose smashed.
The dead fireman was 23 years old and the son of Mr. Andrew Blackburn, Cantley, Que.
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The remains reached Ottawa at midnight and were taken to Cantley on the morning train. The funeral will be held from his father's residence to the Presbytw=erian church thence to the family cemetary.

From the Eastern Ontario Review Friday 10 April 1908

Engineer Reynold, whi is wanted to give evidence at Plantagenet concerning the death of John Blackburh in an accident at Plantagenet last September, is still in hospital in Ottawa and will not be able to attend the inquest called for next week,
Andrew Blackburn the father of the deceased fireman, has settled his action for $5000 damages against the Company, The C.P.R. has paid him $1000.

From the Eastern Ontario Review Friday 29 May 1908

Plantagenet.  The adjourned inquest into the death of John Knox Blackburn who was killed in the railroad wreck at this station on September 11th last year was concluded on Monday in the town hall here. Coroner Dr. Derby held the inquest. J. Maxwell, County Crown Attorney, Mr. Frepp for Engineer Herbert Reynolds, and Mr. Kelly of Scott and Kelly for the C.P.R. were the lawyers present.
The evidence of the former settings was read to the jury after which Engineer Reynolds was put in the witness box. He swore that he was engineer on the special train of coaches which smashed into the gravel train standing on the main line at Plantagenet station. He told of knowing that the green light on the semaphore had been broken and showed a white light. His fireman, Blackburn, noticed this and the train was slowed down. The arm of the semaphore was still showing that he (Reynolds) had a clear way. Engineer Reynolds explained that, although Plantagenet was a registering station, he had not intended to stop there because the rule of stopping at all registering stations was not observed with a train of empty coaches. He also said that the order board was not against him. He said he knew that the gravel train was at Caledonia Springs, Alfred or Plantagenet. After having slowed down at Plantagenet he observed that on the siding were flat cars loaded with gravel and not seeing any headlight on the main line, because a car ahead of the engine, he proceeded. He only got a short distance when he received a signal to stop. He applied the emergency brakes but it was too late to avert the collision.
Mr. Reynolds was in St. Luke's Hospital in Ottawa for almost eight months. On his leg, injured in the wreck, were grafted eighty square inches of skin taken from himself and ten brother engineers who volunteered to do this service for their mate. Mr. Reynolds is still unable to walk without the aid of crutches.
The court after hearing the engineer's evidence adjourned for lunch. The first witness examined at the afternoon sitting was Leonard L. Derby who ws present at the wrecks and who assisted in removing fireman Blackburn from the debris. He swore that before Blackburn died he heard him say "why didn't those fellows put up the semaphore."
The next witness was Jules Raymond. He had made measurements of the tracks, station platform etc. at Plantagenet station and swore to the correctness of these. These measurements showed that there was sufficient room for the gravel train to coal on the siding without going on the main line and thus the collision would have been avoided.
After examining this witness the coroner reviewed the evidence. The jury retired and after deliberation of almost six hours came the following verdict:
"We find that the late John Knox Blackburn came to his death in a collision on the C.P.R. at Plantagenet station on the night of Sept. 11th 1907 and that this collision was caused by the negligence of said company in not having a night operator at that station, and the ballast train crew coaling on the main line when there was sufficient room for them to coal on the main siding. We also found that this has been the usual practice and we recommend that in future this be prevented."
Engineer Reynolds was accompanied by his two brothers and a large number of railroad friends.



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