Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area



1886, June 7 - Bridge collapse at Petawawa, Canadian Pacific, 2 killed, 3 injured.



Ottawa Citizen 8 June 1886

OVER A BRIDGE
A C.P.R. Freight Plunges from a Bridge- a Conductor Killed.

By Telegraph to the Citizen.
Pembroke, 7th.- a Canadian Pacific Railway freight train coming east went through the iron bridge at Petewawa, ten miles west of here, at 11:30 a.m. conductor Williams was instantly killed and a number of others dangerously injured. It appears one of the flat cars near the train was loaded with a steam shovel, which was being transferred to the Smith's Falls division, and when the train was passing over the bridge some part of the shovel caught in the framework of the bridge and caused the hind end of the train to leave the track and pitch over into the river, some forty feet below. The engine and tender came safely over, and was at once diepatched to Pembroke with all the wounded who could be found, and afterwards returned with two doctors from here.

The explanation of so many persons being on this freight train is said to be that the men were being transferred to Smith's Falls with the steam shovel.

Almonte Gazette 11 June 1886


TERRIBLE ACCIDENT ON THE C.P. RAILWAY
A Freight Train Jumps a Bridge above Pembroke and Tumbles Forty Feet - Conductor Williams Killed and Several Injured.

Pembroke, June 7th.- a C.P.R. freight train coming east went through the Iron Bridge at Pettewawa, ten miles west of here at 11:30 this a.m. Conductor Frank Williams was instantly killed, and a number of others dangerously injured. It appears one of the flat cars of the train was loaded with a steam shovel, which was being transferred to the Smith's Falls division, and when the train was passing over the bridge some part of the shovel caught in the framework of the bridge, and caused the hind end of the train to leave the track and pitch over into the river, some forty feet below. The engine and tender came safely over, and it was at once dispatched to Pembroke with all the wounded who could be found, and afterwards returned with doctors from here. The explanation of so many persons being on this freight train is that the men were being transferred to Smith's Falls to work with the shovel.

FURTHER PARTICULARS.

It appears that the regular freight left Chalk River at 10:30, en route for Ottawa. When crossing the Pettewawa bridge, which is situated about twelve miles from Pembroke, the projecting end of a steam shovel caught in the ironwork, upsetting the rear cars, and hurling them into the river below. Conductor Williams, who occupied the caboose was instantly killed, while the train hands were more or less injured, one or two of them, it is expected, fatally. A scene of terrible confusion followed the crash. The greater portion of the train, which consisted of about twenty cars, got over the bridge in safety, and was brought to a sudden stand-still. The engineer and fireman were uninjured, and hastened back along the track. Considerable difficulty was experienced in rescuing the injured train hands from the half submerged and splintered cars, which were piled up in an indistinguishable heap. The injured men, together with the conductor were conveyed to Pembroke. Half an hour after the accident occurred Mr. C. W. Spencer, Assistant General Superintendent and Mr. H. B. Spencer, Assistant Superintendent, left the Union Depot on a wrecking train, bound for the scene of the accident, at the rate of 50 miles an hour.
The bridge was badly damaged, and it is thought that considerable work will have to be performed before the direct service is resumed.
Conductor Frank E. Williams, who met his death, is well known in Ottawa. He resided on Sherwood street, and leaves a wife and an infant only three weeks old. He left the city on Saturday evening on the up train. The deceased was a great favorite in railway circles, and has been connected with the Canadian Pacific Railway during the past 5 or 6 years.
The Pembroke Standard says: Stewart Thompson was standing on the platform at the rear of the van when it tumbled into the river. He escaped with a few bruises about the body and face. These were the only casualties that happened to legitimate employees of the company. The remaining three who were injured were tramps who had got on board somewhere further up. The three tramps were perched away on the empty flat car, and were stealing a ride to Ottawa. We were unable to obtain their names, but learned the nature of their injuries. The first extricated from the debris was an old man who was so severely injured internally that he could not speak. The second was a younger man, who received a severe scalp wound and a few slight bruises about the body. The third was a Frenchman who could not speak a word of English. He was found enangled in the ruins with

HIS ARM ACTUALLY PULLED OFF

halfway between the elbow-joint and the shoulder. The bone was entirely broken off at the elbow, and the remaining stub of the bone was broken into long sharp-pointed splinters, which were driven into the flesh, some of them even penetrating to the shoulder. He was brought to Pembroke and placed in the hospital, where his arm was amputated close to the shoulder a short time after. He was particularly courageous, and did not even murmer when being removed from the wreck. One of the brakesmen who escaped was badly frightened, and from what we saw of him is not likely to recover from the nervous shock for some days. He was very reticent about answering some of the questions asked him by several parties as to what he knew about the accident. Finally he said: "I ought to know something about it, and where they were (meaning the unfortunate victims). I only escaped a similar fate myself by two car lengths." He then added, others were to "look out for the water tanks," but stated that they were not instructed to guard against striking bridge girders.
Another of the train hands stated that the shovel and derrick had gone up some time ago, and passed under the same bridge. He also said that on the way down it had passed under several bridges and seemed to have plenty of room. Although the employees were inclined to keep silent in the matter as to whether any particular individual was in any degree responsible for the accident, it was evident from the particulars obtained thats no blame can be attached to any one. The mishap seems to have been

PURELY ACCIDENTAL

and was unexpected to all in connection with the train. Three wrecking trains were immediately sent to the scene of the trouble, two coming from Ottawa accompanied by Mr C. W. Spencer, Mr Harry Spencer and a number of master workmen, who set about removing the debris at once. Orders were sent back to Pembroke for timber and we were told by Mr. Spencer that a temporary wooden trestle bridge would be erected in the meantime, and in fact would be in a position for trains to cross within 48 hours. Arrangements were made for the transfer of passengers from one side of the river to the other, so that passenger travel will not be seriously delayed. Notwithstanding the severe shock on the whole of this large structure, the stonework remained intact.

LATER

Before going to press we learned that the body of Conductor Williams was taken charge off by the Freemasons of Pembroke, the deceased being a member of that order, Stewart Thompson will be around in a few days. The old man is not likely to recover, but it is thought his companions will survive the severe shock.

Ottawa Journal 9 June 1886:


Our Pembroke correcpondent writes: "On hearing the sad news of the accident which occurred this forenoon at Pettewawa (sic) a station ten miles west of Penbroke, I drove to the scene of the disaster (through the kindness of the editor of the Standard).  Arriving at the end of a ten mile drive we found the scene of the accident as complete a piece of train wrecking as it is possible to imagine.  The whole of the longest span of the new three-span bridge crossing the Pettewawa river had collapsed, and all its iron work, trestling etc. lay in a mangled heterogeneous mass in the water of the rapids flowing underneath the bridge, the same having been mixed up with the remains of the steam shovel and derrick, and also of a couple more flat cars; against the solid stone pier on the westerly end of the demolished arch or space stood the "conductor's van" on end, one end of the van in the rapids, the other leaning against the stone pier just as it rushed over.  The bed of the rapids was totally blocked with wreck, at the eastern pier of this demolished arch, with one end also in the waters, and the other reared up against the stone pier, stood, also on her end, boxcar No. 1762, whilst over the edge of this eastern pier hung  boxc ar No. 2918, litterally hanging over the impromptu precipice, as it were, half way coupled to car 312, which had escaped and there was standing on the sound span.  I would at a cursory glance estimate the length of the gap caused by the accident to the bridge, at say about 120 feet.  The bridge was a solid looking structure of iron in three spans and fitted into solid stone piers.  The masonry did not show the lease sign of the shock it received.  Interviewing the who found poor Williams' corpse, I learned his hat was on his head, one hand in his pants pocket, and a leather mit on his right hand, and it was evident he was about "braking" as he was instantly hurried to his cruel end.  John Holyoakes was the driver on the train, John Eldred, fireman, both escaped injury, Stewart Gthompson, in charge of the steam shovel, was badly bruised and cut.  A young frenchman from Ottawa, name, unknown, had his left arm badly smashed.  Dr. Dickson amputated it at the shoulder this evening. Three tramps said to be stealing a ride were badly injured.  Mr. C.W. Spencer and Mr. Harry Spencer arrived with a special about 5 p.m. and investigated and commenced with a gang of men to start clearing the wreck being engaged with two engines. After the inquest, Williams' body will be taken to the station by Lodge 128, A.F.& A.M., of which he was a member.

Ottawa Journal 10 June 1886:

The Petewawa Accident
The Inquest on the Body of the Killed Conductor
Pembroke June 9 - The inquest on the body of Frank Williams, the conductor killed by the Petewawa accident, was held at the town hall yesterday by Dr. Dickson, coroner. There was a large attendance to hear the evidence, Mr. C.W. Spencer, Assistant General Superintendent, being present to look after the interests of the Railway Company. Mr. H.H. Loucks, County Crown Attorney, conducted the examination of the witnesses. Stewart Thompson, the foreman in charge of the steam shovel, was the first witness. He was brought from the hospital in order to give his evidence, and was suffering much pain from his injuries.
John Holyokes, engine driver and John Eldred, fireman of the engine were also called to the stand. The evidence showed that the derrick of the shovel caused the accident by catching the bridge overhead, the witnesses stating that the train was running at the rate of 5 miles an hour.
Samuel Turner, the brakeman who escaoed uninjured testified that he signalled the driver to slow up as he passed under the bridge and then looked back to see if the derrick would clear or strike the bridge. The evidence of the other witnesses went to show that two other bridges similar to the Petewawa bridge had been passed under in safety, the derrick clearing them both.
Henry Wood, bridge inspector of the Eastern Division, was examined.  He stated that the wrecked span was 141 feet 9 inches in length, the height of the arch being 18 feet. The other bridges passed over were 20 feet and 21 feet in the height of the arches. He had nothing to do with laying out the height of these bridges that was done by the engineers.  The height og the arches was in all cases regulated by the length of the span.  The bridge in question was overhauled and put in first class condition in November last.  He knew of no fault in the bridge which would render it unsafe. There was no law compelling bridges to be of a certain height. It would take great force to break this bridge. He had tested the bridge in course of its manufacture and found it very satisfactory. It was the gross weight of the train that did the damage. It was an ordinary truss bridge. Had not heard of the bridge being unsafe,
There was no evidence adduced as to the height of the derrick further than that Stewart Thompson said he thought it would be about seven feet higher than an ordinary box-car. The coroner reviewed the evidence for the jury, explaining it in the most lucid manner.
The inquest adjourned at 12.30 noon and re-opened at 2 p.m. An order was read which showed that the conductor was ordered to place a man in charge of the steam shovel whilst it was upon his train. It did not seem that he did this from the evidence further than to caution his brakeman to look out for tank pipes.
The jury after consideration found the following verdict:- "That the deceased conductor, Frank Williams, came to his death in consequence of a railway accident at Petewawa Bridge on the Canadian Pacific railway on the 7th instant, said accident having been caused by the deceased having failed to take the necessary precautions in approaching the bridge in time as required by his running orders."
The brethren of Lodge 128 A.F. &A.M. escorted the body to the railway depot and placed it on the train, the lamented conductor being of the Masonic Frasternity. Several of the brethren went down to Ottawa from Pembroke in special charge of the corpse.
The man whose arm was amputated was seen by your correspondent in bed at the hospital this morning. The poor fellow was bearing his suffering like a man, and was doing well. He was smoking a pipe as he reclined in his bed. Stewart Thompson is also doing well, being merely badly bruised.


Almonte Gazette 18 June 1886

ANOTHER VICTIM. - one of the three tramps who stole a ride on the freight train which went through the Pettewawa Bridge and were injured, died from the effects of his injuries, and was buried at Pembroke on Saturday. Another had his left arm taken off above the elbow.

THE PETTEWAWA ACCIDENT - after hearing the evidence of the different witnesses at the inquest on the body of the unfortunate conductor who was killed by the accident at Pettewawa bridge last week, the jury brought in the following verdict: "that the deceased conductor, Frank Williams, came to his death in consequence of a railway accident at Pettewawa bridge, on the Canadian Pacific Railway on the 7th instant, said accident having been caused by the deceased having failed to take necessary precautions in approaching the bridge in time, as required by his running orders."


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