Details of Railway Incidents in the Ottawa Area

1884, May 29 - Demonstration of Cooke Safety Switch at Ottawa Union Station

This picture (LAC C4848) is believed to have been taken of the switch discussed below, possibly on 29 May 1884.
 It shows on the right the Union passenger station and the freight station on the left.

Montreal Gazette 30 May 1884

Testing a safety switch.

Ottawa, May 29th. - some interest was manifested at a trial today of Cooke's patent safety switch used in conjunction with Baker's safety switch stand, which took place at the Union station, at the instance of the Railway Safety Appliance Company of Canada, in presence of a number of railway men, including Mr. Schrieber, Chief Engineer of Government Railways, and Mr. Trudeau, Deputy Minister of Railways. The invention, it is stated, has been already adopted by some of the leading railways of the Eastern States and the Canadian Pacific Railway. It consists of a combination of pieces of steel rail so arranged that should the switch be misplaced or open to an approaching train the latter will not leave the track but run on to the main line as though the switch had been properly thrown. Several trials with an engine and cars running at a high rate of speed were made over the switch thrown open for the purpose, the train, in place of leaving the track, passing over and on to the main line. The company purpose entering upon the manufacturer of their patents at once with head office at Ottawa.

Ottawa Citizen 30 May 1884


Trial of the Baker Automatic Safely Switch Stand.
Yesterday afternoon Mr. Collingwood Schreiber, Chief Engineer of Government Railways, Mr. C. W. Spencer, Assistant Superintendent Canadian Paciftc Railway, and several other gentlemen assembledd at the Union Depot to witness a trial of the new "Baker Switch Stand" which has lately been put in use on the Canadian Pacific Railway. Tbe switch stand is the invention ol Mr. Archer Baker, General Superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway, and is constructed of steel rails in such a manner that a train cannot leave the track should the switch be misplaced. It is absolutely safe, and is said to be the cheapest to put down and maintain of any switch now used, and cannot be blocked by snow or ice. In the ordinary switch now in use on most railways the switch rail is connected with the crank of the switch and is moved by a connecting rod made of 1 or 1 3/8 inch iron. The Baker switch is provided with an additional safeguard by a locking bar of the same dimensions as tbe connecting rod, which is locked automatically with a solid cast iron block, forming part of the stand itself. It is also arranged that when the switch is opened to change it on to another track it locks itself, thus preventing any accident from the carelessness of switchmen or from broken connecting rods. One of those switch stands has been in use on the Canadian Pacific Railway for about eight months and has given entire satisfaction . The switches are to be introduced into this country by tbe "Railway Safety Appliance Company (Limited) of Canada" Mr. J. T. Lewis, of this city, is acting as secretary pro tem. The trial proved highly satisfactory in every respect, and the company are to be congratulated upon having adopted such a safeguard against accidents.

Almonte Gazette 6 June 1884

SAFETY APPLIANCE. - an exhibition of the working of a new appliance for the prevention of accidents on railways by missed placed switches, recently adopted by the C.P.R. Co. was made at Ottawa last week. By an ingenious arrangement of pieces of old steel rails, should the switch happen to be misplaced or wrongly thrown to an approaching train, the latter instead of running off the track and causing great damage and loss, is conducted smoothly over and on to the main line, just as though the switch had been properly placed for the purpose. Used in conjunction with this switch is a switch stand, self locking and fitted with a double rod, adding strength to the whole combination where new strength has long been required, the breaking of the switch rods owing to the great strain upon them having been hitherto a fruitful source of accident and loss. An engine and several cars were both run slowly and at a high rate of speed over the switch thrown wide open purposely, and all present were surprised to see the engine and train glide smoothly onto the main track, without so much as a jar, and apparently, without any strain on the switch itself. The introduction of the switch in conjunction with the cast iron safety stand referred to will tend to lessen considerably the loss of life and property on our railroads.

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