Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1898, June 10 - Ottawa and New York Railway work train derailed at Embrun, 4 killed.

This accident occurred before the Ottawa and New York Railway was opened to traffic.  It turned out to be the most serious accident in the entire life of the line.

From the Chesterville Record of  16 June 1898:

Four men killed.
Gravel train derailed with terrible results.
Accident occurred near St. Onge in Russell county.
Twenty five cars reduced to splinters.
Russell June 11.  At 6 o'clock last night a construction train on the New York and Ottawa Railroad, with 22 cars loaded with gravel, left the track at Embrun station. 
The accident is supposed to have been caused by an open switch.  The engine turned over on its side and ten cars piled up and were smashed into tinder.
Four bodies were taken out of the wreck.  They are Mr. Greenley, conductor, Mr. Crysler, fireman, and J.W. Rombough and Greenley carmen.
At 8 o'clock this morning it was impossible to say if any more are under the wreck.
Ottawa June 11.  The accident caused quite a stir around the city and was discussed on all sides, although no authentic particulars can be obtained.  The Free press sent a representative to the scene and at a late hour this morning he telephoned that the accident was most appalling  Only the four bodies had been removed from the wreck and it was not thought any others met death, although an escape after the sudden pitch in occurred would have been impossible to any on the ill-fated train.
From information received, the train was ditched by an open switch near St. Onge, which is about seven miles from Russell village.  The train was known as No. 3 and was returning from the pit to Longfield on the last run of the day at the rate of nearly 20 miles an hour.  The train consisted of an engine and 25 heavily laden cars.  Just where the switch is situated there is a steep embankment and down this the engine plunged at full steam with the unfortunate victims.  There was no chance for escape.  In a twinkling the cars crashed together and went on top of the locomotive and the poor fellows who were in the cab.  The three nearest cars were reduced to splinters and all piled up in a miscellaneous mass on top of the wrecked engine.  The scene which followed was frightful.  No assistance could be rendered the helpless ones.
Work of rescue started at once by the railway hands, but it was hours before the bodies were recovered.
The bodies of William Rombough, the cable man on the train, and Fireman Crysler were recovered about 8 o'clock but that of Conductor Greenley could not be found until 2 o'clock this morning and by that time two car loads of gravel had been shovelled away.  The man's head was badly smashed and his legs broken, Fireman Crysler's body was found near that of Rombough.  It was frightfully bruised.  A brother of Greenley's who was also on the train was hurled head first into the ditch and one of the cars crushed him.  He was killed instantly.
Engineer Murray, as the train approached the switch, notices something was wrong and quickly reversing the brakes, jumped for his life.  He escaped with a few bruises and a scalp wound.  Jacob Brown, one of the train hands, had one of his hands frightfully crushed and Manson Hollister an ugly scalp wound.  Both are in serious condition and fears are entertained for their recovery.
Greenley, a short time ago, moved from the east to Ottawa, and has a wife and two sons here. 

Crysler was a resident of Crysler and was a single man.

President Hibbard, when seen in referrence to the accident said ""I know very little of the details.  There is no telegraph office at Embrun and the nearest telephone is three miles away, so that particulars are meagre.  It appears that a construction train belonging to the contractors Messrs. Balch and Peppard was going south.  It consisted of an engine and some twenty empty flat cars.  The switch at the north end of Embrun siding had been tampered with, possibly by someone who knew very little about it.  The wheels of the engine caught in the opening, with the result that the engine was derailed and ten flat cars piled upon one another.  The cars were entirely demolished and the engine partially disabled.  Fireman Crysler of Crysler; Conductor Greenley, of Ottawa and two brakemen, whose names I do not know, were killed.  This was the contractors train, the company had nothing to do with the accident and we are in no way responsible for it.  As I said before it was purely on account of some one tampering with the switch.
An inquest into the cause of the wreck on the Ottawa and New York road was held at Embrun.  Dr. Ferguson, of Cumberland, presided as coroner, and Duncan McDiarmid was foreman of the jury.  There was quite an array of legal talent, R.A. Pringle representing the contractors, and C.H. Cline of Cornwall and C.B. Rae of Chesterville, the friends of the victims.  After hearing all the evidence the inquest was adjourned to meet again on 16th instant in the village of Russell. An order was issued for the interment of the bodies.
There was also a piece on the death of Frank Crysler, the only son of the reeve of Crysler and a description of the funeral.

From the Eastern Ontario Review, Vankleek Hill, Friday 17 June 1898

W. Greenless, conductor, F. Chrysler, fireman; and two men named Rombiriugh and brown, laborers, were killed on a railway wreck near Russel village on Friday night last. They were on a construction train on the O. & N.Y. and ran into an open switch.

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Updated 1 April 2018