Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1879, April 22 - Derailment of Kingston and Pembroke train which hit a washout

Kingston Whig - 23 April 1879

There was a slight accident on the K. & P. RR. yesterday. A baggage van and passenger car were thrown off the track, caused by a wash out.

From Andrew Jeanes December 2019:
Today I read an interesting article from the Daily British Whig describing the state of the Kingston and Pembroke Railway in early 1882.

This was a period of great optimism for the railway, after construction had stalled at the Mississippi in September 1877, taking nearly four more years to cross the river and build further north. The three-year period from 1882 to 1884 saw the line extended to the Clyde River, the Madawaska and finally to Renfrew. It also saw the opening of the connection with the Ontario & Quebec Railway at Sharbot Lake. The Whig article anticipates all of these events.

The description of the K&P employees’  reading room is also interesting, particularly where it refers to sketches of the train wreck at “Dead Man’s Grave.” I think the reporter may have misheard and that it was actually called “Dead Man’s Grade." I also suspect this refers to the same 1879 wreck—and possibly the same sketch—as the picture donated to the Central Frontenac Railway Heritage Society in 2018.

The train wreck is said in the article to have been "near Robertsville Station,” which likely means the summit at mile 55.8 from Kingston (roughly mile 47.7 measured from Renfrew), 781 feet above sea level. This is about eight miles further north than Gene Kirkham and I had guessed when we were talking about this wreck in 2018.

If the location is the correct one, the body of water where the washout took place is Black Creek,  which flows northerly through Robertsville and Mississippi Station before joining the Mississippi River. Looking at the terrain on a map today, the K&P crossing of Black Creek near Robertsville seems a very likely spot for a washout to occur.

This is the full article from the British Whig 5 January 1882
Railway Matters.
The K. & P. R.R. Extension Completed—The Line to Ottawa—Fine Reading Room—Other Items.

The track on the K. & P. RR., extension has been completed as far as the Company intend to run down this season. The new line is about eleven miles in length and it is said to be in fine condition. Workmen are now laying the track on the branch line to the Levant mine, three quarters of a mile.

The cold wave will probably cause a cessation of work. We also understand that a gang of men are employed in ballasting certain spots on the main line that require repair. The Government Inspector will be along shortly and when his report has been transmitted to the Government, then in all probability trains will be run regularly over the extension. For the present a great amount of freight cannot be carried over it. The ore at the Levant and other mines has been heaped up for several years awaiting transit. This will be shipped to the city, and there is enough of it to keep from eight to ten cars daily in use for the next three months. The Caldwells and the Bethlehem Iron Company, of Pennsylvania, have several mines open.

Pushing On The Line.

The K. & P. Railway has never been in a more prosperous condition and the outlook is very bright and promising. Last year’s business, we are credibly informed, nearly doubled that of the year before. There is every prospect of the near completion of the road to Renfrew. And by the way we learn that the surveyors are busily engaged in locating the line from the Clyde to the Madawaska, under the direction of Mr. T.L. Nash, [sic] and in all probability before 1885 the K. & P. RR. will be linked with the Canada Pacific Railway.

The line from Sharbot Lake to Perth will be pushed ahead as rapidly as possible, and by this time next year Kingstonians can leave the city in the morning and be in the Capital before noon. The railroads from Brockville and Prescott to Ottawa will undoubtedly feel the competition, as for passengers and freight business the shortest route will be most popular. From Kingston to Brockville, distance of 48 miles, and to Prescott 60 miles, can be saved by using the new line. The Rideau Canal boating trade will also be slightly affected but not materially, as coarse freights can be more cheaply carried by barges. The ore from around Ottawa may also be brought via Kingston for shipment, owing to our excellent harbor facilities, as when the shoals have been removed vessels of deep draught can always be accommodated here.

Employees’ Reading Room.

In speaking of railway matters we must not omit to refer to the K. & P. RR. reading rooms, which are located in an upper room in the railroad building. A Whig reporter dropped in recently and found it a cosy place in which the employees can pass their leisure hours. The floor of the room is covered with matting, a “Splendid” coal stove throws out a comfortable heat, upon the walls are hung pictures, such as have an especial interest for railroad men, several being photographs of the engines now in service on the line. Sketches of the disaster that occurred some years ago near Robertsville Station, at a point called “Dead Man’s Grave,” particularly took the eye of the visitor. The accident was the worst that has occurred on the road, and was caused by the embankment being washed out. The scenes have been vividly pourtrayed [sic] by the pencil of a citizen named Brown.

Many other drawings, representing scenes along the line of the K. & P. RR., are on exhibition, the work of that skillful artist, Mr. Arthur Moore, formerly of this city but now of Rochester, N.Y. Upon the tables are to be found the leading daily papers of Canada, the finest mechanical and railway papers and magazines published in the United States, and other literature which seems to be well perused. There is also a small library, containing some 200 volumes.

The officials of the reading room are desirious [sic] of having a better book depository, but do not feel justified in making a great expenditure of money for the purpose; rather they rely upon the generosity of their friends for contributions. Of course annually some money is expended in purchasing standard works. The room is much frequented by the employees. Persons waiting for the trains are always made welcome. The Whig is regularly on file and is much read.

A Flourishing Association.

The Benefit Association of the employees is in a flourishing condition. Nearly $900 was received in the past year from the member and many benefits paid out. The annual meeting occurs next Wednesday, when a new President well [sic] be elected in place of Mr. W.H. Carnovsky, who is now Superintendent of the Bay of Quinte RR.

There are only two trains running each way on the K. & P. RR. at present, the midnight train having been cancelled for the winter.

Conductor Coon is now doing service in the office of the Secretary Treasurer, Mr. G. Osborne.

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Updated 19 December 2019