Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

 1887, September 26 - A passenger train derails and burns when the track is destroyed by brush fires at Eastman Springs (now Carlsbad Springs), Canada Atlantic.
 All four passenger cars turned over and burned.

Ottawa Journal  27 September 1887

Narrow Escape.
Bush Fires Injure the Track Near Eastman's, Derail the Express and Burn Four cars - The Passengers Shaken Up, and Some Mail Lost
Some excitement prevailed in the city last evening when it was rumored that the 4:50 p.m. express to Montreal on the Canada Atlantic had met with an accident and some of the cars bad been burned. A number of people gathered at the Elgin street depot enquiring after news from the scene of the accident. About eight o'clock a special train with three doctor, stretchers and other necessaries for injured people left the Canada Atlantic station. On its return some time later the particulars of the accident were learned,
It appears that the train left Ottawa on time as usual at 4.50 p. m., and was composed of an engine and tender, baggage car, smoker and mail car, second class car, a first class car and a Pullman. There were in all about one hundred passengers on board. After passing Eastman's Springs, the train was bowling along at the rate of about 25 miles an hour when the train slowed up, and it was evident that the brakes had been put down. Almost instantly the cars left the track and bounded over the ties, and then settled down on one side without turning altogether on their sides. There was at once great excitement among the passengers some climbed to the doors others made for the windows and in a short time the cars were empty. Dense smoke prevailed, and the flames from bush fires were close at hand.
The engine tender and baggage car seemed to have got over the break all right  and were standing a short distance ahead. The Pullman, first class, second class, mail and smoking cars were lying partially on their sides along side the track, and in a few minutes they caught fire and were burning fiercely when the passengers left This they did on the caboose of a freight train, which had been following the passenger train from Ottawa, and which was flagged to stop after the accident occurred. The train returned to Eastman's Springs and was side tracked and the engine and caboose conveyed the passengers to Eastman's Springs where they remained until the special arrived from Ottawa. The four cars left at the wreck were completely burned.
All the passengers seen by The Journal representative spoke highly of the energetic manner in which the train hands and railroad officials had attended to and assisted the passengers in leaving and after they had left the wrecked train.
The Cause
The accident was of course the result of bush fires which had been raging in the vicinity for some time past. Late yesterday alternoon the fire must have swept across a portion of the track, and attacking the ties thus loosened the rails, which spread when the train passed over them. A good many yards of track were thus torn up when the train ran off. A section man had discovered the fire and was running to warn the train, but so dense was the amoke that the engineer oould not see the signals. In fact it was impossible to see more than a few yards in front of one.. After leaving the passengers of the wrecked train at Ottawa the special train again proceeded to the scene of the accident to bring up the passengers on the 8 o'clock train from Montreal. A Journal reporter by permission went down. After leaving Eastman's Springs in proceedd slowly down the line. On either side of the track the bush was on fire,and the heavy smoke was almost suffocating on the car platform. On approaching the track, the fire appeared to be heavier, and as far as the eye could reach on either side, all was one mass of surrounding fire with, here and there , a small blaze, showing the rapid manner in which the fire spread. When the train stopped, one was almost choked and blinded by the smoke and ashes; proceeding down the line where the track was completely torn up, the remains of the wrecked train, were burning still, little more than the iron work remaining. The baggage car and engine were not damaged and had by that time been placed on the track again. The engineer said: :When I noticed the fire across the track I pulled the throttle and applied all the air brakes; the train answered well, almost stopping, but it was too late to prevent her from going over that portion of the track which was on fire. The engine and tender got over all right but it was evident that the cars could not do so as we could feel the track giving.
Mr. Wm. Browne. The mail clerk in one of the last burned cars, saved twenty-seven bags of mail, about twelve being burned with the car. The line is now cleared, and the track which was torn up re-laid. The up train from Montreal due here last evening at 8.10 o'clock arrived at the Elgin street depot at 7.30 o'clock this morning having remained at Alexandria over night and proceeded up this morning. The passengers escaped unhurt, nothing more serious than bruises having been reported, though they were all shaken up a good deal. Sir Adolph Caron was among the passengers in the pullman. An old man named Berraux from Vaudreuil was slightly cut about the hand from being thrown against the car windows.
The Conductor's Account
"I had just crossed the platform into the parlor car, when suddenly, the train, without more warning than a few sudden jerks fell on its side, coming to an abrupt standstill the next moment. The engineer, it appears, retained the presence of mind to reverse, thus preventing a more serious accident. Within the cars all the passengers, between ninety and one hundred in number, were thrown about unceremoniously, the majority receiving a rough shaking up. The passengers could not have behaved better under any circumstances. Those in the rear car were the first to come to the rescue, assisting their fellow travellers through the doors and windows. There was no hurry or confusion. The ladies who were in the majority kept perfectly cool. Sir Adolph Caron, Mr. Fleck of this city, Mr. McFarlane and Mr. E. Tasse of Montreal, worked hard rescuing the passengers. The last persons had hardly escaped when the entire train caught fire from the burning stumps upon which it rested. There was no water at hand, and we were obliged to witness the cars burn before our eyes."

28 September 1887

On The Canada Atlantic
Mr. J. Logan, yard foreman of the C. A. R. says the bush in the vicinity of Wood Station, about 34 miles down the line, is all on fire. At the present time the flames are only a quarter of a mile from the station wood yard. If a wind should spring up the yard and station would be in great danger.He attributes the burning of the ties at the scene of the late accident to the wind which sprung up that afternoon. Eaverything was all right at 3 o'clock that day.
Bearbrook September 27. Yesterday your correspondent visited the fires at present raging in the vicinity of Navan and found about fifty men guarding Mr. Richard Clarke's property from the devouring elements. It may be said that the whole country, between Navan and Bearbrook Crossing is literally on fire as fire is burning more or less on every man;s property for a distance of fourteen miles. Last night twelve men were guarding Mr. McDonald's hotel, North of Navan, and a similar number guarding Mr. Duffey's. The smoke is so dense that it is utterly impossible to distinguish one residence from another at 50 yards all the way from Navan to South Indian hundreds of acres of the bestwoods are destroyed. One man living near the wrecked train on the C. A. R. had one-hundred cords of good maple wood burned. Bears and deer are making their appearance, being driven out before the fire around Bearbrook crossing.

Almonte Gazette 30 September 1887

A train on the Canada Atlantic Railway from Ottawa was derailed by the rails spreading, owing to the ties having been burned by the bush fires raging along the line. A second-class, postal, first-class and Pullman cars also ran off and upset in the ditch, but no one was seriously injured. The train had almost stopped before the cars left the track. The cars were all burned.

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Updated 15 November 2022