Saturday, May 15, 2021

VIA 1405 Derails at Illecillewaet

This dramatic derailment has been a mystery to me for quite awhile. I'd first seen a photo in TRAINS magazine, and this uncredited view (top) has been making the rounds of the internet for some time. When it happened, railfan newsletters and magazines of the era did not have the blanket coverage available from online sources today. Most as-it-happens information had to be gleaned from newspaper clippings or short TV news clips. And if they were missed at the time, the information was unretrievable. 

In fact, the photo by Stephen C. Bradley, showing a nose-to-roadbed view,  didn't make it into TRAINS' Railroad News Photos section until the December 1979 issue. The derailment took place on June 3, 1979 at Illecillewaet, at Mi. 98 of CP's Mountain Subdivision, leaving VIA 1405 to be photogaphed in a rather undignified position! Interestingly, neither photo shows the rest of the train, so photographers must have had no access until after the removal of the Canadian's consist.

From the Golden Star newspaper (Golden, BC), June 6, 1979, page 24.

Passenger Train Derailed

On Sunday, June 3rd, at 1:30 a.m. a VIA passenger train was derailed 60 miles west of Golden. The cause of the derailment was a mudslide across the tracks. While there were no injuries, it took crews until 7:00 p.m. to clean up the mess. Passengers were bussed to Kamloops and from there they were flown to Vancouver at the expense of the VIA.

The front page has a photo of CP 200-ton crane 414478 and another crane righting a baggage car with the rear of 1405 visible in the right of the picture. And the picture accompanying the article on page 24 has a photograph from the other direction with 1405's number clearly visible. No 1's train was 11 cars long, with a CP Geep as the second unit behind VIA 1405. The Geep, baggage car and trailing coach derailed but remained on the right-of-way. There were 240 passengers on board.  The mudslide was cleared and the line was reopened at 1845 hours the same day.

Since this post was published, Steve Bradley kindly shared his photos taken at the site (six photos, below). The sectionmen are spiking, the foremen are conferring, and heavy equipment clears the slide remnants:

Steve was railfanning near the location at the time. There was a noticeable lack of any trains. Then, the auxiliary went by! A friend, who worked for CP, got word that No 2 had hit a rock/mudslide and if they walked half a mile, they could reach the site!
A very undignified post for a classy locomotive. Nose down into the ditch, cab door open. Fortunately, there were no injuries among crew nor passengers.

Heavy equipment clearing the slide, with its path visible through the vegetation:
Somewhere out there is someone who will see this photo and suggest that Budd baggage cars were used on the auxiliary! It looks as if there are tie gondolas in the siding, with fresh ties alongside the track visible at the derailment site. CP 414502, the Revelstoke auxiliary has rerailed the baggage car, the Geep run around and taking the baggage car to be set out, likely before the rerailing effort of 1405:
VIA 1405 was outshopped from Calgary's Ogden Shops with its VIA paint on December 15, 1978. Here it is in March, 1979 at Vancouver. I only observed 1405 twice. Here, photographed leading VIA No 2 at Portage la Prairie, MB on June 11, 1982. Ex-CP 1405-1961-1402 and 15 cars arrive out of the glare of the afternoon sun at 1634 for the late-afternoon station stop:

Now, to hunt up the story of that flaming CP Rail 4062, ex-1420 at Franz, Ontario - you've seen it - July 5th, 1975 on CP Train  No. 955!

Running extra...

Kingston does not have a co-ordinated trail system. It's mostly 'trail' in name only, compared to others we've encountered in our travels: Quebec City, the Rockies, Orillia and other places where a trail is really a trail, not just streets, sidewalks and occasional real trails stitched together for the sake of signage. Kingston is making progress though, with improvements to our walking route through Lake Ontario Park.

On Thursday's walk, the Canadian Coast Guard's Cape Hearne leisurely left Portsmouth Olympic Harbour. A few minutes later, an RCAF 424 Squadron rescue Griffon helicopter arrived from CFB Trenton. An interested fellow walker asked if it was a real rescue - reassuringly, it was only a drill.

This is Trackside Treasure's 699th post. We, as humans, like round numbers, so the 700th post should be a big deal. In terms of marketing, $1.99 is perceived as being a better value than a price of $2.00, so perhaps this post is actually more valuable than the 700th one will be. As your humble blogger, I can't say, because at this point, what will appear as #700 is a mystery, even to me!

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