Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1881, August 13 - Locomotive derailed after hitting a cow, Prescott, Grand Trunk, 1 killed, 7 injured.

Ottawa Citizen 15 August 1881

A Passenger Express Train Comes to Grief
The Locomotive Jumps the Track and is Smashed.
Miraculous Escape of a Train-full of Passengers
By Telegraph to THE CITIZEN

Prescott, 13th.Prescott.  The No. 4 express fom Montreal to Toronto passed here at her usual time, 2.20 a.m. having a large train of coaches well filled.  After leaving this station and when passing the semaphore west of the station, the cowcatcher caught a cow which was one of three or four on the track and carried her along the track about three or four hundred feet to the first crossing west of town.  The cow was carried over the cattleguards to the east side of the public road, but fell partially into that on the west side of the road, lifting the engine off the track and throwing it over the slight embankment to the south side of the railway.  The engine lies a perfect wreck with all its upper furnishings twisted off.  The engineer Howarth, held heroically to his place and was found a mangled corpse, partly under the engine with one hand around the whistle and the escaping steam pouring forth on his side. The ground where he lay is saturated with blood. His body now lies in the baggage room of the station awaiting an inquest. The express messengers were also among the injured, but were able to be sent to their friends. A report says six passengers were wounded, but as they were transhipped to another train and sent westward, this cannot be positively ascertained. The tremendous force of the concussion can be partly understood by one standing at the scene and seeing the total wreck of cars and engine. The engine fell on the south side of the track, where it remains, but the tender passed about thirty feet further and with its truck lies a shapeless mass on the north side. Close to the tender, but father into the field, lies the express car, also a total wreck. The agent of the company at this place promptly placed a man to guard the goods, which was scattered by the collision. A second class car is piled on the tender, while its rear-end is buried in the ground to a considerable depth. The windows of this car are broken, probably by the afrighted passengers, who made their escape through them. Some of the seats and windows are covered with the blood of the wounded. From the point where the engine caught the cow to where it jumped the track, and now lies embedded in the soil, is about 300 feet. The track was torn up sixty or seventy feet, which is being promptly repaired, and will be ready for the westward express at one 1.47 p.m. The property damaged is the engine and tender, the mail and baggage and express cars, one second class and three first class cars. The loss of life is small, when it is remembered that a heavy train on a downgrade was suddenly stopped and its living freight piled indiscriminately among wrecked cars.
Montreal, 13th - the news of the accident on the Grand Trunk Railway created a profound sensation here today, as there was a very large number of citizens on the train, including the members of the Junior Shamrock Lacrosse Club, who were going to Toronto to play a match. One of the victims of the catastrophe, the fireman Taylor, was brought to the city about mid-day. He is very badly injured, but the doctor thinks not fatally. His head, face, arms and legs are covered with cuts and bruises. He says he was thrown from the engine right over the tender, and was caught in something and dragged for some distance until he became senseless. The accident he and others attribute to the slowness of the train on the downgrade. Had the speed been twenty miles an hour the cow would have been pitched off the track and no injury done. Howarth, the dead engineer, leaves a wife and one child, who resides near this city. He was eighteen years in the company, and was considered one of the safest and best men in the service.
The Montreal Witness says: "the accident on the Grand Trunk Railway evidently is a more serious one than the official despatch received from the railway headquarters would seem to indicate. On the arrival of the Toronto Lacrosse team members of which were interviewed by a witness reporter, who received the following accounts in substance: at about half-past two o'clock, when we were asleep, our car suddenly stopped, and we were ordered to get out and walk to the next station, Prescott, about half a mile away. On the road we saw the cause of the trouble. The engine of the up train was lying on its side off the track. Crushed, with his arm around the whistle from which the steam had been escaping, was the engine driver, with his hands clenched, a rag a wrapped around one, a wound in his cheek. He had evidently been thrown forward from his position. The tender was upside down under a passenger car, the express car was one mass of splinters, and having been loaded with fruit, quantities of it were piled around, some six passenger cars were off the track, the track was torn up for a hundred yards or more, the ties being "scooped right up." The passengers from both trains were gathered around and the wounded men were moaning piteously. It required a minute search to discover any traces of the cause of the accident. A tuft of hair here, a piece of flesh there, a bone and a fragment of tail, scattered along the track for a hundred yards were all that was left of the cow which had been straying on the track. The train had just left Prescott having gone but about half a mile when the accident happened and thus had not got up full speed. Had it been running quickly the probability is that the cow would have been thrown off without difficulty but there not being sufficient momentum for this the locomotive left the track. As quickly as possible the dead and wounded men were carefully picked up. The wounded were the fireman and express messengers, King and Mackenzie. King, who received internal injuries was placed on the eastern [sic] bound train, and sent to Toronto with the westbound passengers. The fireman, express messenger Mackenzie, in charge of a physician, and the body of the engineer,  Howarth, were placed on the uninjured western bound cars and after considerable delay this train was attached to the morning's local from Cornwall, which backed down to meet them, and brought to Montreal. The express messenger Mackenzie, however was carried off the train at a station west of Cornwall, it is said in a dying condition, still in charge of the physician. Some eight or nine of those in the passenger car were injured more or less, but some very seriously, while all in the car received a terrible fright; but, strange to say, those in the Pullman car were not in the least disturbed at the time of the accident.
The passengers in the Eastern bound train arrived at the place of the catastrophe only some half hour after the accident.
Our special correspondent telegraphs the following from Prescott: "John Howarth, the driver, was a steady, conscientious man, who originally came from Toronto. He had been nineteen years in the employ of the Grand Trunk Railway, and leaves a wife and two children. Mrs. Howarth who is a niece of the late Mr. Sandfield Macdonald, and is at present visiting some friends in Summertown. She is as yet unconscious of her husband's terrible death. It appears that Howarth stuck to his engine to the last. He must have left the cab and climbed out on the boiler so as to be able to jump, as he was found beneath the engine, which had actually turned a somersault. Both his arms were clasped around the whistle of the locomotive, and he was scalded to death as he lay there helpless.  Two hours elapsed from the time of the accident until the working party was able to get at him, and when they did he was quite dead.
Robert Scarlett, the baggage man, is a native of Toronto, and was sent home by thew train he had come on. He is seriously injured.
King, of Toronto, express messenger, seriously hurt, was sent on to Toronto.
The fireman is very seriously hurt and it is doubtful if he will recover from his injuries. He has severe wounds on the left arm and leg, and is scalded. It is feared that he has been injured internally by inhaling steam. He belongs to Montreal and was sent through this morning, a bed having been made for him in the Pullman car. His neck and face was swollen and his chest and shoulders badly scalded.

Kemptville Advance 19 August 1881

What proved to be the most serious railway accident which has happened in this part at Canada for a long time, occured on the Grand Trunk R. R. about 2.30 on Saturday morning last near Prescott. It appears that when about half a mile from the Junction, the engine came in contact with a cow lying on the track, which was shoved upwards of 400 feet by the cowcatcher, and then partially dropped into a culvert, causing the overthrow and complete wreck of the engine.  The tender followed, but seprated [sic], the baggage van and smoking car next went, but on the opposite side off [sic] the track. Then came, a passenger car which ran past the locomotive, and though off the track, continued on the line. Three more cars left the track, being distributed one on each side of it. The train consisted of fifteen cars, six Pullmans, one Composite Ottawa car, four first class cars, a postal express and baggage car. The Pullmans, Composite and one first class car did not leave the track. Conductor Gee, - who fortunately received no injuries, - with the assistance of others gave such relief as they could to the wounded. The engineer, John Haworth, of Montreal, was found under the engine, with life extinct. One arm was around the whistle and his head resting on the escape valve. It is said his head, neck and shoulders were virtually par-boiled by the escaping steam, which gave the body a horrible appearance. Wm. Taylor, fireman, dropped between the engine and tender, and was bruised and scalded, but not fatally. King and Mackenzie, messengers were in the express car, the former being badly squeezed and internally injured; the latter very slightly hurt. Robert Scarlett, baggage-man, was found with shoulder dislocated and unconscious, but shortly recovered. The excitement among the passengers was intense - those in the second class car being badly shaken up. It is said one French woman put her two children through the car window, cutting herself badly in doing so. A Mr. Harstrom of Holton, Mich., was injured, it is feared internally and in spine as well. Mr. A.B. Atwood, of Connecticut was injured on the arm; Mrs. Porteous of Rochester had her wrist badly cut by the broken window, and Mr. A.C. Nichol of Toronto received several contusions in the body. The wounded were properly attended to by the Prescott physicians.

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