Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1896, March 18 - Locomotive driving rod breaks on the Toronto Express at Britannia.  No injuries

Ottawa Journal 18 March 1896

Driving Wheel of the Engine Breaks While the Train is Travelling Fifty Miles an Hour - The Fireman's narrow escape - Prominent Ottawans on Board

The Toronto express due here about 6 o'clock this morning had a narrow escape from being ditched a short distance west of Britannia.
About half past five o'clock, while descending the grade from Bells Corners at a speed of fifty miles an hour, the side rod of the engine broke.  The driving wheels of the engine were instantly derailed and in this dangerous condition the engine plunged along for 2,500 feet, almost half a mile, the broken side rod inserting deep holes into the frozen earth and threatening to derail the train at every revolution.  The spokes of the driving wheels bumping along over the ties were smashed out and a hole was stove into the boiler from which all the steam escaped.  That the train escaped being ditched is indeed remarkable.
Fireman's narrow escape.
When the side rod broke it dashed through the cabin of the engine just missing striking the fireman who was sitting on his bench.  Had it hit him he would have instantly been killed.  As the engine plunged along the driving wheels cut off the bolts that joined the rails together as clean as if it had been done by a steel cutter.  The truck wheels of the engine kept the track or a more serious accident would have had to be reported.
The train was an unusually long one and had a large number of passengers on board among them Clarke Wallace, M.P., Park Commissioners Christie and Askwith of Ottawa.
Wrecking Train Out
A wrecking train was sent out from the city to bring in the express and the disabled engine.  The train arrived in Ottawa two and a half hours late.
Praise for the Hands
Edgar Willis, Secretary of the Board of Trade of Toronto, who was a passenger on the train, telegraphed Sir Wm. Van Horne an acknowledgement of the bravery of the engineer and fireman who stuck to their posts, thus averting what would have been a very serious accident.
Also reported in Ottawa Free Press, same date and the Almonte Gazette 20 March 1896.

Ottawa Citizen 19 March 1896


The Driving Rod of an Engine Broke While the Train Was at High Speed. Engineer and Fireman Stuck to Their Posts.

All on board the Toronto express, arriving here yesterday morning, have good reason to be thankful for escaping from what very nearly proved to be a catastrophe. As the train reached the lower part of the heavy grading between Bells Corners and Britannia and was approaching the city at a speed of about fifty miles an hour, one of the driving rods on the engine smashed. The longer part of the rod struck the ties and road-bed with terrific force and lifted the engine clear off the track. The rod on the other side of the engine was then smashed, and for fully 2,500 feet the engine bounded along in this perilous condition. Every time the rods revolved and struck the ground, the engineer and driver were jolted in their cabin. but they stuck to their posts with heroism and succeeded in stopping the engine without any serious result. Only that the truck in front of the engine remained on the track there is little doubt but that the train would have been ditched. Several of the spokes in the driving wheels were broken as well as the driving rods. One of the spokes pierced the side of the boiler, allowing the steam to escape.

The passengers were not disturbed over the occurrence, as they were not aware that anything had happened until the train was stopped. They heard the broken rods strike the ground in their revolution, but it seemed to them as though trunks were being moved about in the baggage car.

Another engine was procured and the train was brought in a couple, of hours behind the regular time.

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