Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1898, February - Pontiac Pacific Junction and Canada Atlantic Railways' instalation of acetylene gas lighting in trains

Ottawa Free Press 27 January 1898

The Pontiac and Pacific railway are up with the times.  They are introducing a new system of lighting on their line.  They have at present several of their cars equipped and ready for the introduction of acetylene gas.  This will prove a great improvement on the old system, and will greatly decrease the cost of lighting the trains.  This railway is the first in Canada to introduce this system.  The cars are  being equipped and lighted by the local agents.

Ottawa Journal 31 January 1898

An experiment was tried with acetylene gas as the illuminant on the PPJ Saturday afternoon.  The transformation was remarkable.

The Equity, Shawville 3 February 1898

Mr. Andrew Holland, of Ottawa, came up on the P. & P. J. line as far as Clarke's station on Friday evening and returned the next morning.  Mr. Holland, it may be stated, is agent for one of the firms manufacturing the new illuminant known as acetylene gas, a plant for supplying which he installed in the P. & P. J. coaches last week.  The lighting of the cars by this method is said to be highly satisfactory.

Renfrew Mercury 4 February  1898

Acetylene gas is now being used to light the trains on the Pontiac, Pacific Junction Railway.

The Equity, Shawville 10 March 1898

Mr. Holland, of Ottawa, was here again on Thursday evening last in connection with the acetylene gas business, to which he is now devoting considerable of his time.  Last week he removed from the P. & P. J. cars the large generator, which was put in merely as an experiment, and installed a small plant in the first class car, which has been made to work most satisfactorily.  It is expected the company will have similar plants installed in the second class and the mail car before long.  The Pontiac train is the first train on the continent that has adopted this system of lighting.

Ottawa Citizen 11 March 1898

The Pontiac and Pacific Junction Railway is the first railway in America to light its cars with acetylene gas the new luminent made from sodium carbide.  For a month past a train has been running on its lines, each car being provided with five fifty candle power lights, the generator for the whole train being situated in the baggage car.  This system, however, is to be modified by placing a generator in each car.  Mr. Resseman, the general manager of the road, says the train lighted with the gas is the best illuminated train in America and that the system will be introduced on the trains of the Gatineau Valley line.  The plant was installed by Andrew Holland, the Ottawa agent of the system.  The Dominion government has also given Mr. Holland orders to equip the government car Cumberland, and a postal car on the C.A.R.  He will also equip a sleeping car on the C.P.R.

Ottawa Citizen 22 March 1898

Ottawa Free Press 15 March 1898

The Canada Atlantic railway claims to have the first locomotive headlight in America lighted with acetylene gas.  The engine is No. 1, driven by Engineer Dewar.  He says that the new light is as steady as starlight and as brilliant as an arc.

Lanark Era 16 March 1898

The Pontiac and Pacific Junction Ry. is the first railway in America to light its cars with acetylene gas, the new illtitninant made from calcium carbide. For a month past a train has been running on its lines, each car being provided with five fifty candle power lights, the generator for the whole train being situated in the baggage car. This system, is to be modified by placing generators in each car.

Ottawa Free Press 17 March 1898

The C.A.R. postal car, when she pulls out at 6.45 tonight will be lighted with acetylene.

Kingston Whig Standard 18 March 1898

The Canadian Atlantic railway claims to have the first locomotive headlight in America lighted by acetylene gas.

Montreal Gazette 22 March 1898

The Canada Atlantic Express Tests the New Process.

The Canada Atlantic express from Ottawa, due here at 10.15 p.m., steamed into the Bonaventure station last evening with the locomotive head light, the steam gauge and the postal, baggage and express car brilliantly lighted with acetylene gas.
The problem of lighting the headlight .was a difficult one. The tremendous vibration of the locomotive, the strong wind and the keeping up of a continuous supply of gas without accumulating sufficient quantity to render it dangerous should an explosion occur, have all been overcome by an Ottawa invention. Locomotive No. 26, in charge of Engineer Robert Orr, had only two hours in the Ottawa yard to be prepared for the trip. The gas was piped from the cab to the headlight.The light was blown out once by the rush of wind, near Maxvllle.
Fireman John Firley, who, by the way, uses the generator as a seat when he Is not shovelling coal, stopped the draught in the headlight with some cotton waste, and. no further trouble was experienced in this run of the first express train locomotive with an acetylene gas headlight in America.
Mr. Birley, vice-president of the Railroad Gazette, of New York, arrived at Ottawa this morning to inspect the new system of railway lighting, and expressed himself as being confident that it was the coming light for railway trains. Under the new system, invented by Mr. Andrew Holland, of Holland. Bros.; Senate reporters, the gas is generated underflow pressure, and the inventor claims for it absolute safety from fire or explosion.
Mr, Armstrong, controller of railway mall service, readily gave permission to the Canada Atlantic , Railway Company to try the experiment in the postal car. He said that the department had. been seriously considering the question of better light forpostal cars for the past twelve months. One of the strongest excuses for improperly sorted mails on the postal cars was the fact that the light is so poor that the addresses can scarcely be read on letters while the train is in motion after dark.

Railway World April 1898 pages 33-34

“Acetylene Gas for Trains.”

A. Holland, Ottawa, Ont., writes:       The Pontiac Pacific Junction Ry. express train has been successfully lighted with acetylene gas. The train consists of the ordinary postal, express & baggage, 2nd & 1st class cars. The gas is generated by a 30-light acetylene gas machine placed in the baggage car. Each car is regularly piped & supplied with six 50-candle power burners. The pipes are connected with rubber hose between cars, with hose cocks. It is a through express, requiring no shunting of cars. The train has been running a month with the new light, & the management is so satisfied with the experiment that it proposes to light all its trains & stations with it. The new illuminant has had a severe test. The vibration of the car does not affect the steadiness of the light. Only once were the lights extinguished, & that was by the impact of a train against a huge snow-drift almost as solid as a sandbar. They were relighted at once & caused no inconvenience beyond the temporary darkness, & for a few moments the smell of escaping gas. Frost 20o below zero had no effect on the gas passing through the rubber connections between cars. Am I right in claiming the Pontiac Pacific Junction the honor of being the first train in America to be lighted with acetylene gas?

P. W. Resseman, General Superintendent Pontiac Pacific Junction Ry., writes: Some months ago, in conversation with the local agents, Holland Bros., of Ottawa, I suggested that acetylene gas would be a splendid lighting element for railway cars if it could be utilized without danger. Andrew Holland asserted positively that he could light the cars safely & brilliantly with one of the generators used for house lighting. The problems to be met were:

- The effect of intense frost on the gas machine & on the gas when piped between cars with rubber hose, & when the train was running 30 or 40 miles an hour with the mercury away below zero.

- The effect of vibration of cars on rough track on the steadiness of light.

- The danger of gas escaping from the generator by the agitation of the water in the gas tank.

- The slopping over of water from the gas tank on the floor of the car, & in consequence smell of escaping gas.

Shortly after this conversation I placed a train at Holland Bros.’ disposal for equipment. A 20-light generator was installed in the baggage car. The cars were temporarily piped for gas fixtures, & the first trial decided that 3 of the expected difficulties amounted to nothing in actual work–the tank & the gas were not affected by the frost ; the lights were not affected by the vibration of the cars, & the illumination was more brilliant than on any train I have ever seen. I believe it to be the most brilliant light used to-day on any train in Canada or the U.S.

On through mixed express, as we run on this line, with all the drawbacks of shunting, etc., causing slopping over from the water tank, etc., during our first experiments, the light is so far ahead of anything that we have yet seen in economy & convenience that we will never revert to the old system of lighting again. But where a train has to be broken occasionally & cars shunted, it can readily be seen that such a system could not be worked. Here, again, Holland Bros. came to our assistance, & have installed a plant in our coaches that requires less carbide & avoids slopping & smell from gas, & is positively safe, because the gas is only generated in such small quantities, & under such low pressure, that the explosion of the amount generated at any one time (if such a thing could be) would not break a pane of glass. If the cars were to turn over the lights would go out, & the gas would simply pass away harmlessly into the air, as no fire could possibly result from it.

The plant is installed in the toilet compartment. It occupies a floor space of about 14 x 26 in. These generators have a capacity for 6 lights of 50 candle power each. The charging & attendance are so simple that an ordinary chore boy attends to ours without difficulty or danger. We propose to equip all our cars with the acetylene gas plant, as being the cheapest, safest & most brilliant illuminant for railroads yet discovered.

The carbide we use costs $60 a ton f.o.b. at the factory, & the lighting of one of our coaches with this light enables the passengers to read their evening papers from any seat in the car, & costs but 25c. for a 6 hours’ run.

Holland Bros, state that on Mar. 15 a test of a locomotive headlight, lighted with acetylene gas, was made on the Canada Atlantic Ry., & was highly satisfactory, the light being steady & very brilliant. The apparatus for generating the gas is placed in the cab of the engine so as to be under the immediate supervision of the engineer, who, by replenishing the lamp, can maintain a continuous light for any number of hours.

Ottawa Citizen 10 August 1898

Work on the Hull end of the Interprovincial Bridge is now being pushed by the contractors day and night. In order to facilitate the work of the night shift the Holland acetylene gas generators and gas lanterns have been adopted.  Each lantern gives a 50 candle power light and the workmen are very much pleased with the effect.  Four of the gas lanterns light the caisson brilliantly giving 200 candle power at a cost of less than four cents per hour.

Ottawa Citizen 14 November 1898

Mr. Andrew Holland of the firm of A. Holland & Sons, Sparks street has gone to Aylmer today where he will test the new acetylene gas headlight for locomotives.  The test will be made upon one of the P. & P. J. locomotives.

The Equity, Shawville 1 December 1898

A permanent messenger has been placed on the P. & P. J. Railway by the Dominion Express Company.  This official will look after all the express matter, and if needs be, procure articles of any kind that parties may require to get from Ottawa, an dhave them brought up same day.  This may be done by handing the money and a memo of what is required to the messenger, and he will attend to the purchase.
The P.P. passenger train is now provided with an acetylene gas head light, installed by Mr. Andrew Holland.  The exceedingly brilliant light is easily distinguishable from the old oil lamp.

Ottawa Free Press 9 December 1898

Mr. A. Holland, who has lately been making a test of his acetylene gas generators on the P. & P. J. Ry. for the purpose of utilizing the light for locomotive head lights, has received work from the master mechanic of the road that the apparatus is working admirably, the frost not appearing to affect the gas in any way.

Ottawa Journal 21 February 1899

The Machine was Successfully Tested and Showed up Well in Comparison With Other Lights

Mr. Andrew Holland's device for acetylene locomotive headlights was given a successful test in the C.A.R. car shops last evening. Mr. Holland installed his device and compared it with a Well's kerosene burner. The test was a great success and demonstrated the superiority of acetylene gas as an illuminant particularly for locomotive headlights. The test was conducted in the presence of Messrs. J. Olgivie, G.W. Robb, M.Donaldson and E.J. Chamberlin.
The plant used was of the same principle as that now in use on the P. and P. J. railway for headlight purposes.
The machine used is composed of a water reservoir and condenser connected by means of several check barrels to the carbide chamber from which leads a pipe to the burner. Steam can be used instead of water and the effects are said to be much better. When placed on an engine the carbide receptacle is placed beneath the running board of the engine and the water chamber is placed near the firemen's seat but so arranged as not to take up much room. If steam is used a pipe is connected with a steam valve and run thence to the carbide chamber. The gas generated passes along a pipe or tube to the headlight. It burns with steady brilliancy and its illuminating power is remarkably high. Tested beside the gasolene or kerosene, burner the acetylene light was probably twice as good and it is also cheaper. The C.A.R. officials were delighted with the light and were wall satisfied with the test.
After the test the machine was carried out and placed on Mr. Holland's sleigh and one of the burners was kept lighted and as the rig passed up Elgin street the acetylene light compared very favorably with the arc lights.

Ottawa Free Press 7 April 1899

Mr. J. Holland's patent acetylene gas headlight for locomotives was again successfully tested yesterday afternoon, this time on the C.P.R.  The engine running on the "Soo" line from here to Montreal, which leaves here at 4.25 a.m. was equipped with one of Mr. Holland's headlights, yesterday morning and the light used.  It was on the return trip, however, that the practical test was made.  When the train arrived here at 1.40 this morning the light was burning brilliantly and had given the test of satisfaction on the trip up.  Mr. C.W. Spencer, general superintendent of the C.P.R., who was at the Union depot when the train arrived, was greatly pleased with the new light.

Almonte Gazette 26 July 1901

The Canada Atlantic Railway Co. is going to test acetylene gas as an illuminant for its passenger trains.

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