On May 10th, 1946 Canadian Pacific passenger train #7, 'The Dominion', westbound, hit an open vandalized switch just west of Renfrew station and the locomotive, Royal Hudson 2858 and a baggage car rolled onto their sides. There were no injuries. Auxiliary cranes from Smiths Falls and Chalk River rerailed them. 2858 is currently sitting in the locomotive bay at the Canada Science and Technology Museum, Ottawa.
Bytown Railway Society,, Branchline, July-August 1994, page 16, and April 1998, page 17.
From the Ottawa Citizen 10 May 1946.
With a picture
Renfrew - Lucky escape says Engineer
Ottawa Crew Crawls Unhurt from Cab after 97-ton Flyer Turns Over at Renfrew.
"We were lucky to escape with our lives" said Wilson Creighton of 125 Bayswater avenue, Ottawa, engineer of the CPR's crack transcontinental train whose locomotive, tender and refrigeraor car turned over in a derailment near a downtown crossing here about 1.30 this morning.
Although the engineer and fireman, J.A. Roger of 22 Barrington avenue, Ottawa, were severely shaken, they were uninjured as were the several hundred passengers aboard the westbound train which had left the station less than a minute before the accident.
Railway officials declined to offer any explanation for the derailment but it is generally believed to have been cause by an open switch. An investigation is being made by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Looking tired and shaken as he stood watching the wrecking crews trying to raise the locomotive from its resting place in the soft shoulder of earth beside the tracks, Engineer Creighton told his story to the Evening Citizen, more than seven hours after he had narrowly escaped death in the toppling locomotive.
He described how he had driven the train into the Lochiel street station, stopped for a few minutes to permit passengers to alight and get on, and then, after receiving the customary signal, had started the engine and begun to head out of Renfrew,
Tossed around in cab.
"We couldn't have been travelling more than eight to ten miles an hour when the engine hit the switch and began to topple. There was nothing myself or the fireman could do to help ourselves, We were really tossed around in the cab."
Mr. Creighton and Mr. Roger crawled from the left window of the cab. Fortunately no steam pipes broke when the engine floped ponderously over, otherwise the two-man crew might have suffered the same fate which has killed so many other railroaders.
As the engine fell, it slashed a telephone pole from its position beside the tracks and part of the wood lodged in the stack of the engine.
The switch which was believed to have been left open, was manually operated and led from the main line into the siding of the Ottawa Valley Grain Products Company. If the transcontinental train had succeeded in entering the siding it would have smashed into the end of a line of boxcars which were standing on the track beside the company building.
The accident was investigated by constables of the Renfrew police force and in a report signed by F. James Burke it is stated that "the switch was thrown open in some way and was also unlocked when he examined it."
On Page 12. with Picture. This morning's wreck at Renfrew of the CPR's Transcontinental train, in which the locomotive, tender and a baggage car were derailed, brought to an end a record of 34 accident-free years behind a throttle for Engineer Wilson Creighton, 125 Bayswater avenue.
Mr. Creighton was still standing beside his overturned engine at eight o'clock this morning about seven hours after the accident occurred. He said he became an engineer in 1912 and until the present had never been in an accident "worth mentioning."
Ottawa Journal 10 May 1946
Engine, Baggage Car Overturn In Derailment at Renfrew
RENFREW, May 10. (Special) - Passengers and train crew of the CPR Transcontinental train westbound for Vancouver escaped injury atl 1.20 o'clock this morning in a freak accident which derailed the locomotive, tender, and two baggage cars at the Lochiel street crossing.
The engine and lender and the first baggage car were thrown on their sides in the derailment and traifc along the rnain line was blocked for five hours while work crews toiled through the early morning hours to clear the tracks.
Cause Not Yet Known.
Continuing.their investigations into the cause of the derailment, officials of the CPR stated they could give no reason for the accident.
It was suggested that a switch less than 100 feet out of the station had been left open. but there was no confirmation of this report.
The two fast eastbound CPR trains from the west, No. 2 and No. 8, were delayed at Renfrew for five hours. No. 2 train which came in at 2.30 a.m. did not get away until about 7.30 a.m., and No. 8 train about an hour and a half later.
The accident occurred 10 days after another accident when a CPR passenger train collided, with a work train at the Bonnechere Street crossing.
It was the first section of the No. 7 westbound train that became derailed, and despite the seriousness of the accident none of the train crew suffered injury.
The train had made af brief stop at the Lochiel street station to discharge and take on a few passengers. It had barely got 100 yards from the station, as it was pulling out when the accident occurred where, the highway and railway cross.
Engine Fell on Side.
The locomotive fell on its side pulling with it the tender and the first baggage car. The front trucks of the second baggage car were derailed but the car remained upright.
The train crew and baggage men leaped clear or secured handholds as the crash occurred. The remainder of the cars, all of which contained passengers, were shunted to a siding and were attached to another train within an hour.
Ottawa Journal 11 May 1946
Unknown Person Blamed for Open Renfrew Switch
RENFREW May 11. - CPR officias announced this morning that the derailment of their west bound Transcontinental train near the station here early yesterday morning was caused by an open switch which had been tampered with by some unknown person.
Officials said they had established the cause of the accident to be a tampered switch after intensive investigation which exonerated the train crew and CPR switching crew.
In the meantime two large auxiliary cranes got the huge 250-ton locomotive on to an upright position and it was expected that by early this afternoon the machine would be back on the tracks.
Further investigations into the tampered switch will be carried out by CPR and Renfrew police in an effort to determine the person who opened the switch.
Officials stated that in order for the switch to be open, the padlock would have to be removed from where it secures the lever in the closed position. Switching crews locked the lever into position with the padlock so that it must have been forced open in this case.
Renfrew police stated that the padlock was unlocked when they examined it.
The switch in question is used for shunting freight cars into the siding of the Renfrew Machinery Company and Ottawa Valley Grain Products. It was determined that switching crews last operated the switch at 9 a.m. Thursday, and several trains had passed over it later in the day
Normal train schedules were resumed early yesterday afternoon while the work of replacing smashed ties and twisted rails continued. The main line was kept open by the building of a track around the locomotive as it lay embedded in a clay bank
General Sunerintendent for the Quebec district J. R. Kimpton. and Divisional Superintendent E.C. McKay, from Smiths Falls, investigated.
Ottawa Citizen 11 May 1946
Normal Train Schedules Are Resumed
RENFREW, May 11. (Special) With repairs to the twisted tracks and ties completed less than 12 hours of the derailment of the Trans-Canada train which plowed into the ditch in the yard at the Lochiel street crossing shortly alter 1 o'clock Friday morning, regular train schedules were resumed shortly before noon hour yesterday.
However, the 250-ton engine which went off the track and turned over on its side, was still embedded in the bank at an early hour this morning. Further efforts to right the huge piece of mechanism will continue this morning.
Many View Scene.
Yesterday from early morning on citizens of Renfrew and residents from the surrounding district viewed the engine as it lay on its side with its pilot deeply embedded in a bank ef clay. It was the latter, trainmen said, that likely saved the crew and passengers on board from injury cr death.
By six p m., the tender, also in the ditch was raised and placed on its trucks by two auxiliary cranes rushed to the scene from Smiths Falls and Chalk River Friday morning. Repairing of the roadbed by the replacing of smashed ties and twisted rails continued, throughout the day and while tunnelling under the engine has been completed and cables laid through them it was not expected the wrecking crews would have the engine back on the track before this morning.
The switch used for shunting freight cars into the siding into the yards of Renfrew Machinery Company, and Ottawa Valley Grain Products, which apparently was responsible for the wreck, was reported to have been last used at 9 a.m. Thursday. Ten or twelve trains had passed over it later in the day and it was not until the passing of the second section of number seven, the Trans-Canada, that it was discovered to be out of order.
Ottawa Journal 13 May 1946
Thinks Heavy Freight May Have Jarred Open Renfrew Switch
RENFREW, May 12. (Special) Possibility that the open switch which caused the derailment of the CPR west-bound Transcontinental train early Friday morning may have been jolted open by a heavy freight, and not tampered with, was being investigated by police here tonight.
Police Chief Moses Greer, who is aiding in investigating the accident, said that a heavy freight passed through shortly before the passenger train and may have shaken the switch open as the lock and chain were undamaged.
Inspector George Cowan, of Ottawa, will be in Renfrew on Monday to continue his investigation into the accident.
Meanwhile, the locomotive and tender of No. 7 Trans-Canada train have been lifted back on to the track after nearly 36 hours work by a large train crew using a heavy crane from Chalk river. The locomotive arid tender will be hauled to Montreal for repairs.
Thought to be the engine which hauled Their Majesties across Canada in 1939 because of a Royal Crown emblazoned on the side, the engine will be back on the run in two weeks' time after the smoke stack has been replaced and repairs made to the cow catcher, whistle, steam valves and iron railing. Parts of the coupling between the tender and engine were twisted and broken.