Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1917, August 19 - Heroism of Ottawa Trainmen Averts Greater Disaster to the Countryside at Rigaud

On 19 August 1917 there was an explosion at the Curtis and Harvey plant at Dragon near Rigaud.

Ottawa Citizen 20 August 1917

Heroism of Ottawa Trainmen Averts Greater Disaster to the Countryside at Rigaud
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Many stories of heroism have been told, and many stories of daring will never be told. Perhaps the most impressive piece of daring was accomplished by the train crew of No. 18 C.P.R. Sault train. This train is due at Rigaud at 9.11 a.m.  The first explosion took place at 8.55 a.m. and shortly afterwards the Sault train arrived at Dragon. By this time, flames were sweeping the plant, and the dense, heavy fumes almost hid the place from view. On  the track nearby were four cars of T. N. T. or trinitrate of toluol, the highest explosive with the exception of picric acid that is known. Engineer W. Griffith. 71 Bayswater, Ottawa; Conductor Harry Dunham. 100 Preston St.. Ottawa, and Brakesman W. B. Blake, 268 Booth Street, and M. Chapman. 171 Rochester St.. Ottawa, were the train crew.
Took a Long Chance.
Immediately following the first explosion, the second occurred. Engineer Griffith was notified that these four cars were on the track Without a thought of personal safety, but realizing only that should these cars explode, the results would be frightful, Engineer Griffith tooK the chance. The engine was uncoupled from the Sault train, and run up to the cars of T.N.T. The cars were coupled on. and engineer Griffith began a real race with death. Spectators who witnessed the deed of daring state that at times it was impossible to see the engine or the cars of deadly explosive as they were enveloped in the sheets of flame and clouds of smoke.
 Journey Made In Safety.
The perilous journey was finished in safety however, and the lives of innumerable workers and residents, not only of Dragon but of Rigaud and surrounding places, were saved through the pluck of an Ottawa engineer and his assistants. The report of this heroic deed has aroused the greatest enthusiasm and admiration in Rigaud and Dragon, and many of  the officials of the Curtis and Harvey Company expressed their admiration of the train crew in no uncertain manner

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Updated 27 August 2020