Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1948 , July 6 - Canadian Pacific Runaway on the Cornwall Street Railway Tracks




RG 46 vol 1566 file 22902.12

Train crew was shunting cars in the CPR yard about a quarter of a mile or more east from Pitt Street.  The locomotive, CPR #853, was moving towards Pitt Street tender ahead with nine cars behind it, coupled onto the head end of the locomotive.  A car which had been placed on a yard track, without brakes set, started to move down the track on a slight grade and side swiped the engine hauling the nine cars.  It side swiped on the right side and broke the piping and instruments in the cab.  The crew could not then shut off the steam or set the brakes and had to get off the engine on account of escaping steam. The engine and train, crewless, then kept on going down the track for a quarter of a mile to Pitt Street and started around the 50 degree curve connection to the street railway tracks on Pitt Street.  The locomotive could not make the curve and crossed the street on the pavement and upset.  It broke two trucks and a private car, damaged a house principally by smoke, injured two people slightly, and broke up 50 feet of sidewalk.  A truck getting under the tender probably upset the locomotive.
The nine cars made the curve, went down Pitt Street on the electric tracks to a switch to a passing track and all derailed.
There was a sliding derail operated from a switchstand about 100 feet east of Pitt Street.  It was not set to derail the train and it is never set to derail cars getting loose on to Pitt Street.  It is locked with a CPR switch key and works alright.

From the Ottawa Citizen 7 July 1948

Locomotive Wrecks Auto, Crashed Cornwall House
A runaway freight train that lumbered down street-car tracks on the main street, Pitt street, gave Cornwall residents a scare last night,
An unscheduled trip ended when the locomotive broke loose from its nine freight cars, toppled on a sharp curve and smashed into a verandah on which two people were waiting for one of the city's red street-cars.
Four injured
Engineer William Nicholson, 52, of Montreal and Fireman Gerald Suffle, 25, of Ottawa leaped from the cab just before the locomotive overturned. Nicholson suffered a head cut which required five stirches to close.  Suffle sprained his ankle.  Both men were released after treatment at hospital for their injuries.
Albert Lalonde who, with his wife, had been waiting for the street-car, suffered burns from steam after the engine landed almost on the verandah.  Both Mr. and Mrs. Lalonde were taken to hospital, where Mrs. Lalonde was treated for shock.
Afer the accident, thousands of curious onlookers converged on the scene of the crash.  cars and bicycles blocked many roads and at times police traffic constables were unable to clear Pitt street of the surging mob.
The locomotive, in addition to wrecking the verandah, flattened an automobile and damaged a light truck parked near the car.
"It was awful".
"It was awful, terrible," one witness, Mrs Arthur Parker of Cornwall stated. "Steam and water spurted all over the place, coal scattered all over the lawn and the cement curb was all torn up."
Timbers from the wrecked verandah lay strewn over the dug up lawn, some scattered several feet away.
Arnold Pitts of Cornwall was sitting in his automobile when he saw the train come around a corner of Pitt street, the main thoroughfare.  He jumped from the car seconds before the toppling engine flattened it.
A panel truck near the Pitts car was damaged.
All the freight cars remained upright after the engine became uncoupled.  They coased to a stop.
Railway officials said the locomotive, a switching engine, had been standing on a siding which connected with the street-car track system when freight cars broke loose on another siding and struck it.  The impact apparently jammed a gear and started the locomotive off in reverse, pushing the nine freight cars.
Extinguish Fire
City firemen extinguished the fire in the toppled locomotive firebox.  CPR wrecking equipment was being sent from Montreal to remove the locomotive from its resting place on Pitt street three blocks north of the main business area.  At midnight the wrecking crews had not yet arrived in Cornwall but were expected "any minute now."
The Cornwall Street Railway System operates a switching service for the many industries of the city.  These firms have sidings at the three railway yards in Cornwall and their freight is hauled from the sidings to the factories by the street railway system.
But where the companies have no direct siding from a railway yard, the street railway hauls the freight and tank cars along their own recently-installed rails on back streets.  Until a few years ago freight cars ran on Pitt street
The locomotive had been standing on a siding which runs into Pitt street opposite the foot of Sixth street.  When the nine freight cars, shunted from a parallel siding, rammed into the rear of the standing locomotive, the engine began to move in reverse, pushing the freight cars towards Pitt street.
At the curve leading on to Pitt street, the freight cars became uncoupled but continued to roll south down the main street.  they eventually coasted to a halt.
The locomotive, however, jumped the tracks after rounding the corner and crashed into the verandah of the Lalonde home, the sixth house from the junction of the street railway and the railway tracks.



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Updated August 2016