Friday, May 20, 2022

Derailment at Gardiners Road, July 1999

On Friday, July 2, 1999 I witnessed my one-and-only, right-in-front-of-my-own-eyes, derailment-in-progress. While at Business Depot, I could hear an eastbound freight. It was Toronto-Senneterre, QC CN No 366 at 1605. I missed the engines, but drove behind the big-box stores and watched what I thought was the end of the train go by, right at Mi 178 Kingston Sub. Then, a rapid deceleration, made me realize 366 was going into emergency due to a break-apart! I could see a few cars, the tail-end of the train after the break-apart, also coming to a stop. Oddly, there was a huge grey dust cloud rising from the cars, with audible heavy digging sounds on the ballast. 

The last seven cars were covered hopper NAHX 52317, an ARSX covered hopper, PROX sulphuric acid loaded tank cars 13608, 13601, 13600 and 13610, then a Railbox carrying the ETU. I could see a shattered truck on the easternmost end of the NAHX car. Resting on the north track, one axle was straddling the south rail. The other axle of the truck was jammed into the bolster, though the car remained upright. Notice the chain over the in the top photo. The sulphuric acid loads were sitting on the Gardiners Road underpass. The head-end of the train was stopped 15 carlengths ahead of the tail-end. It appeared that the switch to the Industrial Spur, serving Northern Telecom, had been the site where problems started. Or more clearly, where a problem that had already started caused the train to go into emergency and come to a stop (see below!) The switch looked slightly damaged. The head-end was roughly one mile east. (Top photo shared by the late Ron Barrett - taken from the north side of the Industrial Spur looking south, with two main tracks - north in foreground.)

Like any responsible railfan, I headed home to get my camera. This also got me away from the site as I could hear sirens starting to wail. Upon my return at 1625, Kingston Police, 366's conductor, three Kingston Township firetrucks and volunteer firefighters' cars were onsite. The ETU was transferred to the new tail-end, and a CN signal maintainer was en route. I don't think I actually took any photos with all that activity, though I'm grateful that Ron did, the only tangible sign of what we witnessed.

I returned to the scene at 2150. A CN car and Blazer were parked at the Ontario Hydro transformer station. CN's hi-rail road-repair truck was on the Industrial Spur, with the NAHX car jacked and a new truck ready to be added. The car was taken to the Industrial Spur when it was moveable. Passing trains were limited to 20 mph past the site. CN No 519 from Belleville had been on hand to check clearances on the south track. 

My brother reconnoitred Queens to Ernestown, noting VIA Nos 49, 48/650 and 69 and CN No 148 had passed through. Two more eastbound freights were sitting on the north track at Ernestown: CN Nos 320 and 108. At 2155, 320 with 5687-5210 and 41 cars passed by, then 108 with 5744-5764 and 55 double-stack platforms went through at 2205. One westbound and four more eastbounds passed the site before midnight. 

The next day, all cars involved were gone by noon. According to a public CN trace of cars on the train, No 366 had arrived at Garneau, QC by 0630 that morning.

Fellow railfan and uberVIAphile Jakob Mueller shared this interesting insight upon reading this post. From the Small World Department!

My dad and I were driving (well he was driving, I was watching) west on Bath Road as the train was going by. Somewhere between Mile 179 and the No Frills, I heard a horrible screeching. It got louder and louder and as the NAHX hopper came into view, I saw the lead truck on a diagonal, just sliding along the rail. I called the CN [emergency reporting] number from the convenience store in Collins Bay. They took my info and said thanks. A few weeks later, the CN Police called me at home, and asked some questions about what I had seen, and then very specifically, if I noticed anyone hanging around under the Bayridge overpass. They were clearly concerned about vandals, and if I remember correctly there had been some other issues around the overpass before.  I did spend part of the evening at the derailment site watching the truck get reassembled, which was cool. We may well have crossed paths and not known it.

Running extra...
The Thousand Islands Playhouse is putting their money where their bus is, advertising two upcoming shows on Kingston Transit 2105. Unlike most earlier wraps, this is different on both sides! Strike Up The Band.....because this wrap will not last all Four Seasons.

It's been a Rapido kind of week, with the new People Moving People (are the luckiest people in the world?) book and the June Model Railroader cover article, both due to Rapido Trains Inc. and its improbably irrepressible and incessantly indefatigable leader, Jason Shron. You know, that Other Guy with Kingston in his basement!

Trackside Treasure readers: the election is coming up fast. Vote early and often!


chris mears said...

"People moving people"

Now I have that stuck in my head. Which really isn't a problem!

People, people who move people
Are the luckiest people of all.


Eric said...

We're all people moving people. Sometimes we move them a little, sometimes a lot. And sometimes all the way across a country.

I'm happy just to kick the online can down the road a little bit in this, my little nearly-insignificant corner of cyberspace!

Thanks for being along for the ride, Chris!