Details of Railway Incidents in the Ottawa Area

1894, September 6 - Attempted Train Wreck near Kemptville, no injuries

Kemptville Advance 20 September 1894

Thursday last the old man Wm. Prosser was brought before Magistrate Selleck to answer to the charge of having attempted to wreck a C.P.R. train on Tuesday evening of last week.
Conductor Webd sworn said : Am conductor on C.P.R.; was in charge of ballast train on Sept. 6, came in contact with obstruction on the road about two miles east of Kemptville Junction while running west; saw the obstacle before we struck it but was too close to stop; after the train struck we stopped and removed a railway tie that had been placed in center of track braced against the cross ties; the end was raised on two pieces of board so that one end was elevated about a foot above the rails; it would certainly have wrecked any eastbound train that might come against it; little damage was done to my train as we were running very slowly and were coming west and ran up on the slope of the tie; I examined the place where the tie was placed. A hole had been dug between two cross ties and the end of the obstruction put into it. I came on to the station and reported the occurrence. This occurred about 6.55.p.m.
Section foreman Belky sworn said : About 8.30. p.m. on Sept 6th i got orders to go down the track and keep a look-out for any obstructions that might be upon it and also to see if there were any suspicious characters in the vicinity. I got a lantern and took two of my men with me. When we got about two miles east of the junction we stopped to search the place around where the accident had occurred. We found that the tie that conductor Webb says he removed and examined the spot and found it as he described. I proceeded further down the track and kept watch until daylight. On my way back I stopped at the scene of the collision. In searching around the spot I found foot-steps and traced them through the woods in the direction of the prisoner's house for about forty yards. They could be seen quite distinctly as there was a heavy dew on the ground. I went down again with Detective Ross on Saturday morning. As we neared the spot where the tie had been we saw prisoner in the woods just inside the fence. As soon as he saw us he darted into the bush. Ross jumped the fence and followed him and brought him back. He had the prisoner make his foot-printI in the soft clay and we measured it and compared it with the foot-print at the spot from which the tie had been taken to put up on the track. They corresponded exactly. On Monday, 10th inst. I went with Ross to prisone'rs house. Prisoner asked Ross if he knew who put the tie on the track; Ross said he knew. Prisoner asked him how much damage had been done; Ross said that the damage only amounted to about $5. Prisoner said he would give $5 if they would give him two weeks to pay and say nothing more about it. Ross asked him if he did it; prisoner said he did. Ross then wrote down an admission in a notebook and read it over twice and explained to prisoner. Prisoner signed it and I signed as witness. That is the writing (writing produced and marked exhibit "A"). Ross told prisoner he needs not sign unless he liked but prisoner did so.
Thomas Ross sworn: Corrobirated [sic] all section forman Belky's evidence and said further that on Saturday morning when he chased prisoner through the woods he called to him to stop. Prisoner stopped and immediately said "I never put anything on the track or took anything off the track." This was before he had been accused. He signed this confession now shown me (marked "A") quite freely and without any threat or coaxing or undue influence of any kind. He told me that he had done it and he would pay the $5 damage if there was nothing more about it. The pile of ties from which the one on the track had been removed was quite close to the track.
The Prisoner then made a statement delaying any guilt in the matter.
He was committed to Brockville to await trial.
G. H. Fergusan [sic] conducted the prosecution on behalf of the C.P.R.

Kemptville Advance 20 September 1894

Wm. Prosser was to have been arraigned before Judge McDonald on Monday but could not owing to the prisoner's ill health. It is said that he has been very sick ever since being placed in gaol last Thursday and has been under the physician's care

Almonte Gazette 29 September 1894

On Thursday an attempt was made to wreck the express by placing a number of ties on the C.P.R. track east of Kemptville Junction. Fortunately a freight train came from the west. The obstructions were placed in such a position that a train from the east could not avoid an accident. Four tramps were arrested next morning in a barn close by, but nothing could be proved, and they were let go.


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Updated 8 August 2023