Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1887, June 30 - Head on collision at Cobden, CPR, Chalk River sub. No injuries

Ottawa Journal 7 July 1887

Saturday afternoon last a considerable train whose sole cargo was a mass of wreckage came slowly into town over the bridge and down the grade.  Two bells were ringing, one from the live engine in front, and the other from a dead dismantled engine in the centre.  There had been a collision in Cobden on the previous Thursday and these were the remnants which the active wrecking gang had picked up.  That day a train arrived down from Pembroke and was to cross the up mixed.  There was some shunting to be done, but the driver said he would wait until the mixed was out of the way.  He left the engine in charge of his fireman with the caution not to move, then he stepped off to go into the station for a drink of water.  In a minute or two a brakeman came flying over the cars and shouted to the fireman to pull ahead.  What it was that induced the young man to disobey the orders of his superior officer we leave to the psychologist, but disobey he did.  Not only did he give her steam but he pulled the throttle wide open, and then almost instantly he fell in a sound sleep, from which he could not be roused by the shouts of the people nor the terrible screeches of the approaching locomotive.  The wide awake men on each train jumped for their lives and into the jaws of death each locomotive plunged with that unarousable sleeper at the throttle in the last quarter of a race with the Seven Sleepers.  The shock was like an unabridged Charleston earthquake and the engines and several of the cars were in an instant a heap of irrecoverable ruins. While the fireman lay outstretched in an adjacent field.  When they ran to him they found him uninjured, but in response to the pressing inquiries as to why he had done it he answered that his mind was a perfect blank.  All that he could remember was hearing a command and obeying it.  The poor fellow felt his condition keenly.  Carleton Place Central Canadian.

Almonte Gazette 8 July 1887

Collision at Cobden.
Saturday last two pretty badly wrecked engines passed through here from the north - the result of a collision on the C.P.R. near Cobden on Thursday afternoon. The eastbound express ran into a westbound freight standing on a siding. The force of the collision was terrific, destroying both engines, and shaking up the cars pretty badly. The driver of the freight is alleged to have been asleep at the time. His escape was simply miraculous. He was hurled through the window, escaping uninjured. He had been continuously on duty 60 hours.

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Updated 14 November 2022