Friday, September 23, 2022

The Wreck the Day Before the Turbo Wreck

December 10, 1968 was a momentous date in the history of press photography, Kingston history and Canadian railway technology. On that day. the press run of the CN Turbotrain struck a truck full of meat at Division Street level crossing near Mile 174 of the CN Kingston Subdivision.

Much less well-known was a train-vehicle collision the day before - Monday, December 9! Talk about a twofer! The first derailment had the potential to just as deadly dangerous, though there were many fewer press photographers around! 

A 49 year-old dumptruck driver, Alfred Manuel of RR2 Kingston was driving across the Montreal-Toronto CN mainline when a westbound Rapido train struck his truck. The time was 1430, and his truck was totalled, sustaining more than $9,000 damage. Though protected with gates, lights and bells, the Division Street level crossing had long been known to be dangerous, with trains moving at high speed, especially accelerating out of the severe curve at the CN Outer Station just to the east. Another complication was a single-track CP Kingston Subdivision crossing of Division Street just to the north of the CN, protected by a wig-wag signal!
An overhead view of the derailment site, with the CN alignment marked in a parallel blue line, CP in red, yellow arrow showing direction of travel and yellow starburst the approximate collision site. Note that the Division Street overpass was built out-and-around to the west of the existing straight alignment of Division Street.
What the engineer saw! A January, 1969 photo showing initial construction of the overpass, with the CN line disappearing to the east on a curve under the CP Kingston Subdivision flyover. The Rapido would have been coming out of the background on the north track (the left-most track in this photo). With visibility poor, accounts don't mention why the truck was on the crossing, even with electronic protection!
Black and white photos in this post are from the Queen's University Archives' Whig-Standard Fonds. The following photos, taken by a Whig photographer, they show the aftermath of the December 9 crash.  An account, along with only one photo (top photo), appeared as a twofer in the December 10 newspaper, along with the Turbo crash. The beauty of these archival images, which are held in the form of negatives, is that there are many more than what you might find perusing old newspapers. The job of the editor was to select the minimum number of photos that would tell a story, closely-cropping them, and leaving lots of room for other stories and of course, advertising!

Most of these views look 'timetable-west'. The photographer was taking advantage of the sunshine from the south side, as well as access from the level crossing.
The stopped Rapido, possibly Montreal-Toronto No 65, is clearly visible, marker lights and all. At times, the on-board crew appears at the rear door. The interesting variations in the photos include the various operating crew, section crew and officials that variously appear in each of the photos.
The dumptruck looks like an International Loadstar:
At left background is the Topnotch Feeds mill located just west of Division Street, along Counter Street.



The driver is questioned by police. An ambulance driver is close by:

Shortly thereafter, construction began on an overpass over CN at Division Street. This is the only view that looks southeast toward what would be the location of the Division Street overpass:

February, 1969 views of the overpass construction:
In just a few years, two passing tracks would be added just west of Division Street, to be known as Queens. The curve east of here, to Montreal Street, would be realigned. The Outer Station would be closed, and CN passenger operations in Kingston moved to the new CN (later VIA) passenger station on Counter Street.

Running extra...
The Queen's funeral was as awe-inspiring for the sheer spectacle as it was the precision and preparedness of those taking part in the military parade. The most remarkable image is the broadcaset screen capture above, showing the colossal colour of the Queen's Company, Grenadier Guards entering Windsor Castle ahead of the Royal Hearse as the Queen's funeral procession makes its way uphill on the spectator-lined Long Walk. 

I'm trying out Postcrossing It's a long-established postcard exchange website, where Postcrossers send and receive cards all over the world - 68,000,000+ so far. Fun facts: my first received card travelled from India, taking 29 days and covering 8,215 miles. The sender is a professor at the University of Madras, and has used Postcrossing in his Journalism and Communication teaching and research. This just might be addicting!
Streamlinermemories hosts a large number of scanned railway passenger documents. Here is the link to the CN page. It's one more online source - an alternative to going down to the dusty ol' archives!

2 comments:

Michael said...

I remember a story from my time as a reporter at the Examiner in Peterborough. Our newspaper was located next to the CP Havelock Sub. One cold night, some chatter over the newsroom scanner told us that two men drove their pickup onto the right-of-way somewhere in the city, as they were in pursuit of a deer. We never did get a photo of these hijinx, nor could we get anything out of the police, but what a story it could have been! I had the same reaction to your point about why the truck driver was crossing the Kingston Sub, a main line with fast moving trains, at a time when the signals clearly suggested it was a bad idea. Someone didn't ask an obvious question in his or her reporting!

Eric said...

Great story, Michael, and great question. I wonder if he was too shaken up to really remember, or didn't want to incriminate himself somehow. The Whig loved it because they could cover two events in two days in one story!

Thanks for your comment,
Eric