Locomotive Pulls Down Trestle

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(See story Locomotive pulls down trestle.) Courtesy of W. E. Dearing, Suite 101,10 Edmonton St., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
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(See story Locomotive pulls down trestle.) Courtesy of W. E. Dearing, Suite 101,10 Edmonton St., Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Suite 101, 10 Edmonton St., Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Fortunately, happenings of this sort are very few, but recently
a friend gave me the two pictures reproduced herewith and these are
most worthy of explanation.

In March 1923, on the Canadian National Railway which runs from
Sioux Lookout to Port Arthur, this drag of grain had just taken
water at Unaka Tank alongside Lake Eva. March in that country is
still real winter, and there would be from three to four feet of
blue ice on the lakes at that time. The water tank was close to the
north end of the fifty-two bent trestle, which would be about
twenty feet above water level, and there were varying depths of
water; but over twenty feet of same with a blue clay footing close
by the tank end of trestle.

This 2437, a heavy 2-8-0 engine with engr. Bob Stewart and
fireman Gunn, had just taken on water and were leaving town. The
head brakeman was having his lunch in the caboose or going there to
do so. Bob was one of the men who was always heading for the
terminal in both directions and no doubt but what he had all the
slack gathered up when the engine crashed through the bridge and
ice into the lake. Poor Gunn perished and his body was later
recovered by a diver. Bob Stewart surfaced and managed to save
himself, even if around sixty years of age at that time. This
accident has sometimes since been referred to as the times the
engine pulled down the trestle; however, I do not know what was
recorded as being the cause.

The first effort to rescue the engine was by use of the wrecking
crane from the deck of the rebuilt spans. This was a very hazardous
task and made very much worse than usual, due to the lack of side
blocking which would be available at any location, but not on a
trestle and it finally resulted in the wrecking crane toppling over
the trestle unto the locomotive under water and the wrecking crane
engineer losing a leg. So it became apparent that some other
approach to the problem must be made but by what means.

In those days the railways were doing a great deal of ballasting
with run of the pit gravel, also filling in where trestles had been
used etc. and this gravel would be hauled in hart cars without
ends, just aprons, and heavy steel plows attached to long cables
would be pulled the length of the train thereby unloading the
gravel to either side, or maybe to the bottom centers. To pull
these cables and plows required a large heavy duty double cylinder
steam engine geared up to an enormous cable drum and the steam
being supplied from one of the locomotives used to spot the

Well this power and cable unit was known as a lidgerwood and
that seemed to be the only hope of rescuing the crane and
locomotive from the lake. The one picture shows another wrecking
crane taking a lift on the 2437 while at the same time the
lidgerwood has been anchored to a ‘dead-man’ behind the
photographer and both are fully extended. Such is not too good a
time to be present in such position in case some of the tackle
breaks. The cable hitch can be seen horizontally around the firebox
of the 2437.

This engine arrived back at Sioux Lookout about the end of June
about three months after the accident and with many tons of blue
mud still imbedded thereon.

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