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 engine 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. (Library and Archives Canada RG 46 C-II-1 v. 1422 f. 6150)
Ottawa Citizen 12 September 1907
TRAIN WRECK AT PLANTAGENET
Fireman Dead, Engineer Reynolds Hurt
TRAINS IN COLLISION
Engine of Extra East Crashed into Ballast Cars on Siding.
John Knox Blackburn, aged about twenty-two, a fireman, was killed, and Herbert Reynolds, an 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, a station on the Montreal short one, about forty miles east of Ottawa, about 8.15 o'clock last evening. A train of empty coaches, which were being taken to Montreal, collided with a ballast train a short distance from the Plantagenet station, derailing the passenger engine and wrecking several of the coaches. Reynolds and Blackburn were found beneath the overturned engine, Blackburn dead and Reynolds unconscious. The others of the train crew escaped with slight injuries.
It appears, from what little information could be obtained last night, that the train of ten empty coaches left the Union depot at 6.10 last 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 fifty miles an hour, making several stops on the way down. Repairs are being made to the track 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 on to the riding, and plunged into the ballast cars with terrific impact. The crash was heard by those at the station, and the men in charge of the ballast train, and assistance was soon on the scene. The engine had overturned, and several of the cars nearest the engine were smashed.
Physicians were immediately summoned, 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.
Word was wired to Ottawa, and an auxiliary wrecking train left shortly after nine o'clock, bearing several officials of the C.P.R. News of the fatality was also sent to the relatives of the victim. The late Fireman Blackburn had only been on the line about four weeks, being one of the newest men in tne service. His home is at Cantley, Que., and he, it is understood, was the main support of his mother. He was not married.
Engineer Reynolds has been on the line eleven years, and is a prominent officer of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. He is a former Brockville man, is married, and has one child. He is a brother to Mr. D.H. Reynolds, night foreman of the Citizen.
A curious feature of the sad affair was that just before the departure of the train last evening Fireman Blackburn took out an insurance policy. He had been negotiating with a local company for some time, with a view to getting insurance, but had not attached his signature to the policy until just a few minutes before he boarded the engine on the fatal trip.
The short line between Ottawa and Montreal was blocked completely, and transcontinental trains had to travel by way of Smith's Falls.
Ottawa Journal 12 September 1907
FATALITY .ON SHORT LINE
Fireman Blackburn Killed. Engineer Reynolds Injured.
BOTH MEN EMPL0YEES OF C.P.R.
Smash-up Occurred Last Evening By Empty Coaches Crashing Into Ballast Train.
A special train which arrived at 10.14 this morning had on board Engineer Herbert Reynolds, of Ottawa, who was severaly injured in the collision which occurred about 1.15 o'clock last night on the C P.R. Montreal Short Line near Plantagenet station, 40 miles east of Ottawa, the accident resulting in the death of Fireman F. K. Blackburn, also of Ottawa.
Mr. Reynold is now at St. Luke's Hospital where he is reported to be doing very nicely. One leg is badly hurt, no bones are broken. His face is also cut and bruised to some extent, but otherwise his injuries are not thought to be serious.
The body of the late Fireman Blackburn will arrive this evening, when it will be taken to his home at Cantley, Quebec, for burial,
The accident was said to have been caused by a ballast train being on the main line track near the station where some repairs are being made, when a train of empty coaches being taken to Montreal crashed into it with great impact. The engine of the passengers special was overturned and three coaches smashed, while under the cab was found the body of the fireman, quite dead. Engineer Reynolds, who saw the obstruction in the line, applied the emergency brake and yelled to Blackburn to follow him. The fireman evidently did not hear him aright. Reynolds ran back on to the tender and when the crash came was pitched 60 feet over the fence. He was unconscious when found, but soon recovered. The rest of the crew escaped without serious injury.
When the accident happened the train was travelling at a fast clup [sic], the empties were being taken to Montreal to be used in making up an excursion train. Medical attendance was at once procured and every assistance given to engineer Reynolds. Frederick Blackburn, the fireman was instantly killed, his body being found pinned under the wreckage.. He was a new man on the road having only joined the service about four weeks ago, it is said. His home was in Cantley, Quebec, where his widowed mother lives, and it is said he was her main support.
Herbert Reynolds is well known in this city, has been on the road eleven years, and is an ocer [sic] of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen. He is married and has one child.
The track was quickly cleared, an auxiliary from Ottawa being quickly on the spot. An investigation will determine the cause of the smash and who is responsible for it.
Monteal Gazette 12 September 1907
WRECK ON THE C.P.R.
Fireman John Knox Killed and Engineer Reynolds Injured.
Ottawa, September 11 (Special). A bad wreck occurred tonight on the C. P. R. Montreal-Ottawa short line at Plantagenet station, as a result of which John Knox, a fireman, lost his life. An extra left Ottawa at 6 o'clock tonight to run to Montreal with ten empty coaches. Herbert Reynolds, of Ottawa, was engineer, and it is said that the train was running at the rate of fifty miles per hour when it plunged into a ballast train at Plantagenet at about 8.16 p.m. The passenger engine and several cars were wrecked, Knox being taken out dead, and Reynolds badly, though not fatally, injured. Responsibility for the accident had not been fixed tonight. Reynolds has the reputation of being a very careful engineer. Knox was on the road only a few weeks. He resided with his mother at Blackburn, near Ottawa. A curious feature of the sad affair is that he took out an insurance policy about an hour before he left Ottawa on the fatal train. The line was blocked tonight, though a wrecking train was despatched from Ottawa. Transcontinental trains had to be sent around by way of Smith's Falls.
Ottawa Citizen 20 September 1907
Plantagenet Pitch-In Evidence before Coroner.
Plantagenet. Ont.. Sept. 20 (Special.) The inquest, adjourned from Sept. 12, into the facts surrounding the acctdent in which the late John Knox Blackburn met his death opened here at 10.30 oclock today.
A searching inquiry into the details of the accident is being made by Coroner Derby of L'Orlgnal. The witnesses examined this morning were Mr. Thomas A. Wilson, C.P.R. yard agent; J. B. Garton, relieving train despatcher, both of Ottawa. and Mr. James F. Morrissette, station agent at Plantagenet, the place where the fatal pitch in occurred.
The other witnesses are to be heard this afternoon, after which a verdict will be rendered by the jury. C.P.R. Solicitor Curie of Ottawa is here looking after the interests of the company, while the parents of the deceased are also present.
The inquest is being held in the town hall at Plantagenet village, which is about one mile from the station. From the evidence given today it appears that there was no night operator at Plantagenet on the night of the accident.
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.
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.
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.
Eastern Ontario Review Friday 10 April 1908
Engineer Reynold, who 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.
Ottawa Citizen 19 May 1908
PLANTAGENET WRECK INQUEST
Jury Decides Company Was Negligent
Engineer Reynolds Tells His Story of the Fatal Accident.
Plantagenet, May 18 "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 September 11. 1907, and that this collision was caused by the negligence of the 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 find also that this has been the usual practice and we recommend that in the future this be prevented."
The foregoing verdict was reached tonight after seven hours' deliberation by the coroner's jurv In the inquest regarding the death of John Knox Blackburn, the C.P.R. fireman, who was killed in the wreck here on September 11 last. It was resumed at 11 o'clock this morning under Coroner Dr. Derby of Plantagenet. Crown Attorney Maxwell of L'Orlgnal; A. E. Fripp. K.C.. Ottawa, representing Engineer Herbert Reynolds and G.D. Kelly, of Scott and Kelly, representing the C.P.R, were present.
The first witness called was Engineer Reynolds, of Ottawa, who was so severely injured in the wreck that he was a patient at St. Luke's hospital for eight months. Mr. Reynolds told a straightforward story and made a deep impression on the jurors. He explained fully the various orders he received on the fatal night, and swore positively that semaphore was down when approaching Plantagenet station. He also stated that a white light instead of the standard green was shown. He knew that the semaphore lights had been out of order as he had passed it a day or two previously, and knew other trains had been passing it daily. He also swore that he had instructed Fireman Blackburn to look out for the semaphore as it was on his (Blackburn's) side of the engine. Blackburn reported that the board was down and the engineer who had his train slowed up proceeded. He observed no lights whatever at the station and was given no signal until within seventy yards of the obstruction on the main line. He then applied the emergency brakes but was unable to stop his train to avoid the collision. Reynolds said in answer to a question that the conductor, trainmen and fireman were all new to this short line division. When asked why he did not stop to register, Plantagenet being a registering station, he said he did not intend to stop, although he knew the rule was to register but was seldom observed. He saw the rear end of the ballast train on the siding and he naturally thought the line was clear. He, witness, then detailed what happened, explaining fully the painful injuries received.
After Engineer Reynolds had conceded his testimony an adjournment was made for an hour for dinner.
BLACKBURN'S DYING WORDS.
When the enquiry resumed the first witness called was Leonard Derby, a medical student, son of Coroner Derby. He said he was present at the station a short time after the accident had happened and assisted in removing Blackburn from the debris. When asked if Blackburn had made any statement the witness swore positively that Blackburn had said before he died: "Why didn't those fellows put up the semaphore?"
The next witness was Constable Raymond, who had been detailed by the coroner to make measurements of the sidings which the ballast train occupied as previous witnesses had stated that it was impossible to place the work train consisting of twenty-eight cars on the main siding. Raymond swore that he had carefully measured the siding and found a space of 1,170 feet from the crossing to the switch, which was ample room to hold the ballast train, which would not occupy more than 1,064 feet, therefore there was plenty of room to coal up without occupying the main line and the collision would have been avertded.
This was all the evidence offered. After the coroner had reviewed the evidence the jury retired and after a deliberation of seven hours the above verdict was returned.
Montral Gazette 19 May 1908
Lack of Night Operator and Ballast Crew Coaling on Main Line Blamed by Jury.
Plantagenet, May 18. (Special.) "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. 11, 1907, and that this collision was caused by the negligence of the said company in not having a night cperator 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 find also that this has been the usual practice and we recommend that in the future this be prevented."
The foregoing verdict was found tonight at the inquest touching the death of Fireman Blackburn, on the Montreal-Ottawa division of the C.P.R. last fall. The jury was out seven hours. The principal witness today was Engineer Reynolds of Ottawa, who was in charge of the train which crashed into the line of ballast cars. Reynolds, who spent several months in hospital from his injuries, Swore positively that the ballast train was not protected by the semaphore lights.
Leonard Derby, a medical student, son of Coroner Derby, helped to take Blackburn from the wreck, and his evidence bore out that of Reynolds. The dying words of the fireman were: "Why didn't those fellows put up the semaphore?"
Ottawa Journal 19 May 1908
Railway Blamed For Negligence
A coroner's jury at Plantagenet yesterday heard witnesses relative to the accident on September 11th last which rendered 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 September 11th, 1907, and that this collision was caused by the negligence of the 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 find also that this has been the usual practice and we recommend that in future this be prevented."
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 wss present at the wreck 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.
Ottawa Citizen 31 December 1937
Bits of news gleaned from prints for the week of Sept 9, 1907.
John Blackburn, fireman, was killed, and Herbert Reynolds, engineer, of Rochester street, was seriously injured as the result of an accident on the C.P.R. at Plantagenet. A train of empty coaches collided with a ballast train near the station, derailing the passenger engine and wrecking several of the coaches. Reynolds and Blackburn were found beneath the overturned engine.