Details of Railway Accidents in the Ottawa Area

1939, April 8 - Freight train rear ends another freight at Morrisburg, CNR., Kingston sub., one injury

Traffic on the main line of the C.N.R. between Montreal and Toronto was not normal until 9.15 p.m. Saturday after one freight train collided with the rear of another about 6.30 a.m.about half a mile east of Morrisburg. James Cairns, engineer of Brockville, who lost part of a finger, was the only person injured. The picture shows a giant crane in action lifting the crippled locomotive, and also shows how completely the end cars of the first freight were smashed.
Ottawa Citizen 10 April 1939

Ottawa Citizen  8 April 1939

Freight Trains In Crash East Of Morrisburg
Engineer Jame. Karns of Brockville Loses Three Fingers in Spectacular Collision.
Tracks Ripped Up For Considerable Distance.
Caboose Crew of Second Train Leap to Ground Just Before Wreck Occurs

MORRISBURG. April 8 In a spectacular collision of Canadian National Railways freight trains that awoke residents of this town from their slumber at 6.30 o'clock this morning, engineer James Karns, of Brockville, lost three fingers. The fireman jumped to safety.
Westbound from Montreal to Toronto on the main line the train piloted by Karns rammed the caboose of another westbound freight that was stopped half a mile east of Morrisburg station to take on water. The caboose crew saw the other train approachlng at a fairly fast rate and jumped to the ground.
The caboose was smashed to bits and the car ahead of it, loaded with brooms, paper and mattresses,  caught fire. The second car from the caboose was derailed.
Engine Jumps Rails.
The engine that rammed the caboose jumped the rails and came to rest across the double track. It was badly damaged. The tracks were ripped up for a considerable distance. Only one car of the Karns-piloted train left the rails.
Evidently Engineer Karns tried to avoid a collision as it was found after the crash that the brakes of the engine had been applied. It is believed he lost the fingers when they became jammed in the emergency brake handle at the time of the impact. The fireman left the cab a few seconds before the collision.
Rushed to Hospital.
When the engineer was extricated from the twisted engine he was in a dazed condition. He was rushed immediately to Brockville General Hospital where he was reported to be doing as well as might be expected.
Residents of the town assisted volunteer firemen in fighting the fire that rapidly consumed the car loaded with brooms, paper and mattresses. All the clearance papers and bills of lading carried in the demolished raboose were lost and it will be necessary to check the remaining freight with all the stations along the line.
Wrecking Crews on Way.
Wrecking crews were on their way from Brockville and Montreal shortly after the crash and the line will be cleared this afternoon. A special train was sent from Montreal to take passengers off the Toronto-Montreal train and convery them to Montreal.
Many residents of the town believed that an explosion had occurred and quickly donned clothes and rushed into the streets. On finding that there had been a railroad collision they hastened to the scene to render what aid they could.
An investigation will be conducted by the Canadian NationaL

Ottawa Journal 10 April 1939

The Right-of-Way Near Morrisburg is Cleared
Morrisburg April 9 - C.N.R. section men worked throughout Saturday night to clear the right-of-way for traffic half a mile east of the depot here after the collision Saturday morning between a stationary and moving freight train.
The track was cleared this morning for regular trains..
Jimmy Cairns of 9 Letitia Street, Brockville, engineer of the 80-car freight from Montreal which crashed into the two rear cars of a standing freight, had the end of his little finger on his right hand torn off. Crews of both trains forsaw the collision and jumped. Cairns finger was jammed when he jumped.
The caboose and second last car of the standing freight were telescoped. The caboose was demolished and the freight car caught fire and was destroyed.
The Morrisburg fire department was summoned but the car was allowed to burn since Chief Clark felt the department could not leave the town unprotected.
Cairns was treated by Dr. C. A. Louden and sent to Brockville hospital. C.N.R. officials did not give out any explanation for the collision. The engine and four cars of the moving freight train were derailed.

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Updated 27 June 2021