Today’s news is tomorrow’s history. Many of us have memories of occurrences on the railway which were not generally known at the time. As time goes by people retire and pass from the scene and the reasons for keeping these secret are no longer valid. I will recount one here and I hope others will come forward with their own stories.
In the summer of 1973 CPR steam locomotive 1057 was used on excursion trains to Carleton Place. This 4-6-0 was used while 4-6-2 was being renovated and Carleton Place was being used while the washout on the line to Wakefield was being repaired.
1057 was coal fired and I was on the locomotive on the way back to Ottawa. There was a two-man CPR crew, I believe Ourelle Couvrette was the fireman but I don’t remember the name of the CPR engineer or the other Bytown Railway Society member who was also in the cab.
We encountered a stop signal at Bells Junction waiting for the west bound CNR Supercontinental to pass. As we approached the signal there was a slight jolt, we stopped quickly and the CPR crew were on the ground in an instant. The second axle of the front truck had derailed. Instant action. Very quickly the rerailing ramps were brought from their position hanging under the tender frame and placed in front of the derailed wheels. I went for my camera which was in the seat box. I was told in no uncertain terms to “Put that f--- thing away.” A few curious heads popped out of the train which was full of excursionists. Nothing to worry about – we were just waiting for the signal.
With the rerailing ramps secured by stones and pieces of ballast, the train was moved forward a couple of feet to rerail the front truck. Just then the Supercontinental went past and very soon after we got the light to proceed. We arrived safely in Ottawa right on time.
I received a call a week or so later from a CPR official who felt that the derailment might have been caused by track which had “adapted” itself to diesels with their shorter wheelbases. Nothing else was said and unfortunately I have no pictures.
This happened over forty years ago and I am sure it can now be revealed.Bytown Railway Society - Branchine June 2015