Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1887, 22 April - Locomotive and thirteen cars derail, Grand Trunk Railway, Morrisburg, two fatalities.

Kingston Daily News 22 April 1887

Another Bridge Disaster
Morrisburg, April 22 - a terrible railway accident occurred one mile east of here this morning about four o'clock. Nash's creek, now a foaming stream, is here spanned by an iron bridge, resting on two stone piers. A freight train, going west, went through the bridge, carrying the engineer and fireman to instant death. A brakeman was thrown into the creek but was rescued, nearly dead. Thirteen loaded cars were piled into the gorge, smashed to atoms. The driver's name is Stewart. It is said that the bridge was inspected last week and pronounced safe. The supposition is that the stone piers had been undermined by frost. The loss will be very heavy. The express trains had crossed the bridge only an hour before and the morning express from Toronto was to cross the unfortunate train here.
(repeated, verbatim in the Kingston Daily British Whig, same date)

Prof. Forshaw Day passed over the wrecked railway bridge at Morrisburg on an express train just an hour before the accident mentioned in another column, happened.

Kingston Daily British Whig 25 April 1887

A Brakesman's Startling Adventure - An Inquest on Saturday.

Morrisburg, April 25. The bridge over the Nash Creek was repaired on Saturday, and trains passed during the day as usual. It is the opinion of railway men that the engine was off the track before coming on to the bridge, as the foundations were found to be perfect. The escape of brakesman Shaw would rival some of Jules Verne's heroes. His first recollection is of being suddenly thrown from the engine into the river and being forced downward, his head striking hard against the bottom of the river. He managed to free himself and came to the top, but was at once struck by some other floating debris and forced under a second time. He succeeded again in freeing himself, and was then carried by the strong current free of the wreck. He is only slightly injured, and has no broken limbs. He is about forty years of age.
An inquest was held at Morrisburg on Saturday on the remains of the driver and fireman, and a verdict of accidental death returned. The funeral of driver Stewart took place yesterday at Brockville, and was largely attended by railway men and citizens.
The body of J. Clark, of Gananoque, presented an awful appearance; it was by many thought to be beyond recognition, while that of the unfortunate engineer, Stewart, was in a measure equally as bad. This is accounted for through being scalded by water and steam. The case of Clarke [sic] seems to be a sad one, as he had been injured within a few months, once by being struck with the pipe of the water tank, and on another occasion he was knocked off a car while passing under a bridge. On the latter location he was heard to say; "well that is the second time I have narrowly escaped, and I know I will be killed within a month."

Ottawa Journal - Monday 25 April 1887

Brockville. April 25. By persistent and almost superhuman work on the part of the regular road staff assisted by scores of willing volunteers the bodies of the engineer and fireman killed on tbe Grand Trunk at Morrisburg on Friday morning were recovered late in the afternoon. Stewart's body was in sight of those working for hours before it was possible to get at it without removing a vast pile ot wreckage whicn had tumbled into the gorge. When found he was sitting in an almost natural position in tbe cab seat. His face had been very little injured, but his body and limbs were considerably crushed and mangled. - Tender hands carried the body to the bank and the search was then continued for Clark the fireman. The latter was also found in tbe cab but presented a  horrible spectacle. The poor fellow had been jammed close on to the boiler head and in addition to being horrribly mangled was scalded beyond recognition. Bcth bodies were at once taken to Morrisburg and duuring the night brought to their homes here
It is impossible yet to accurately estimate the loss to tbe railway company, but it will certainly be heavy. The bridge is a wreck as are also the thirteen cars, but it is thought the engine can be made available for service. Transfers are still necessary, though a large force of men are busily engaged in the construction of a temporary wooden bridge,

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Updated 12 November 2022