Welland History .ca

Historic EVENTS in and around Welland

Results for ‘Train Wrecks’


[Welland Tribune July 1917]

Ten Dead, Six to Ten Missing and Many are Injured


Niagara Falls, July 1  A trolley car on the Great Gorge route left the rails, plunged down a twenty-foot embankment and turned over in ten feet of water on  the edge of the Whirlpool rapids at 3.30 o’clock this afternoon.

The toll of the tragedy may never be known. Ten bodies are now in local morgues and identified. There are about 36 known survivors and three are known to be missing. It is estimated today that there are from six to ten persons missing. All are Americans from a distance.

A washout due to recent heavy rains, was the cause of the disaster, which occurred just below the cantilever bridge and 60 feet below the point where the smooth water of the upper reaches of the Niagara river breaks into the turbulent waters of the Whirlpool rapids.

There were more than 50 passengers on board according to general estimates. The car was one of the open kind, the seats extending from side to side, with steps on both sides the full length of the car.

The car was running about twenty miles an hour when it struck the weak spot in the roadbed. Less than half a minute elapsed from the time the motorman felt the first jarring sway until the car was bottom side the edge of the rushing rapids.

As it slipped down the twenty-foot line from the tracks to the edge of the river, men and women fought to escape and some of them were able to get free, but were unable to get a footing on the steep bank.

There was a  mad scramble in the shallow water between the wrecked car and the river bank and from the river side the bodies of at least two of the passengers were seen to be caught in the swifter waters and were carried down to the Whirlpool.

Members of the 74th regiment of Buffalo who were on guard at the cantilever bridge saw the accident and were the first to the rescue.

Warning of the weak spot in the roadbed had been telephoned but the company claims it was too late.



[Welland Tribune August 14, 1917]

Percy Elsie and Frank Pollard

Hit by Train, Driving over M.C.R.


A shocking tragedy occurred Friday afternoon between 4 and 5 o’clock when Percy Elsie, aged 17, son of Wm. Elsie and Frank Pollard, aged 10, son of Linc Pollard, were killed on a level crossing over the Michigan Central between Lincoln street and Industrial Park, just east of the city.

Elsie was driving a one horse wagon loaded with lumber, for S.L. Lambert and the younger boy, Pollard, was taking a ride with him. They were trying to get across the track ahead of No 37 fast passenger train bound from Niagara Falls to Detroit, or else they failed to see the train, though there is a clear view of the track at this point. The train hit the wagon squarily demolishing it completely and strewing the track for a long distance with lumber and parts of the wagon. The train stopped and backed up to the scene of the accident.

A horrible sight met the view of those who alighted from the train. Elsie had been thrown against the fence. He was still living but his throat was horribly injured. He expired a few minutes later. Pollard had been driven through the board fence and had been instantly killed. The back of his head was crushed in and his neck and limbs broken.

A man was left in charge of the bodies nd the accident was reported at the depot. No 37 is due at Welland ….but was running late and after the delay caused by the accident did not report at the depot until 5.05. Engineer Meighen was in charge of the train.

The bodies were removed to Sutherland and Son’s Morgue where coroner Dr. McKenzie of Port Colborne opened an inquest at 7.30. After the jury had viewed the remains the inquest was adjourned until Thursday next at 1.30 p.m. to hear the evidence.

The funerals took place yesterday afternoon. The service for Percy Elsie was at his late home, Mill St at 2 o’clock and was conducted by Rev Thos. Cowan. The funeral of Frank Pollard took from the residence of his uncle Chief Laing, Division St at 4 o’clock. Service was conducted by Rev Thos Cowan and interment is Woodlawn cemetery. The pall bearers were a brother, Earl Pollard, a cousin Wilfred Laing and two playmates Percy Boyle and Edgar Kramer.


[Welland Tribune, 14 May 1897]

Windsor, May 10th-William Scofield of Belle River was struck by a Grand Trunk train at the Puce, 13 miles from Windsor, yesterday and killed. His body was discovered by Conductor Freeman in the ditch near the track, and taken to Belle River. He leaves a widow and five children.


[Welland Tribune. 30 April 1897]

The accident on the T.H.& B. railway just west of Hamilton on the afternoon of Sept. 16th last, by which a locomotive and tender were completely wrecked and the engineer and fireman lost their lives, has proved decidedly expensive. Mrs. Edith Johnson, of the village of Scotland, widow of the dead fireman, George Johnson, sued the road for damages, and the company settled on Monday for $2,000 and $300 costs. Mrs. Johnson gets $1,500 and her daughter Lena, $500.

Mrs. Isabella Facer of Welland, widow of the engineer, James Facer, also sued for damages, and the company gave her $1.500 and $300 for costs, to settle the case.


Conductor Boyle’s Train Ditched Near Thorold

Express Messenger Grobb Badly Bruised

[Welland Telegraph, 23 January 1891]

As the mail train on the Welland road, due here at 11.24, last Monday morning, was passing the stone road crossing, about one and a half miles this side of Thorold, the baggage car, smoker and coach left the rails. The two former rolled down a six foot embankment and rested in an inverted position, while the coach careened over and rested against the smoker at an angle of 40 degrees. The smoker and baggage car were badly wrecked, and the escape from death or very serious injury of some of the occupants was miraculous. The experience of express messenger Grobb, baggageman Spratt and mail clerk Boyle, was the most thrilling, and the first named gentleman is now confined to his bed with severe bruises, but fortunately with whole bones. Just how he was hurt he has no recollection, but thinks he was struck by the large iron safe in the car. The baggageman, with the exception of a few small bruises came out all right, and his escape may be attributed to the absence of any heavy baggage in his compartment. Mail clerk Boyle was mixed up among the mail bags, which saved him. Four or five passengers were in the smoker, and how they came out with so little injury seems marvelous. One of them, Mr. Anson Garner, of Stamford, had one of his fingers badly jammed and his shoulder somewhat bruised. In the coach were a number of ladies, who behaved with the utmost coolness. Said a passenger, “They walked out of that car after the accident with as much dignity as they would have out of church.”

As soon as he extricated himself from the wreck baggageman Spratt was despatched to Thorold for a physician, and express messenger Grobb was extricated from his perilous position just as the car was commencing to take fire, but coolness and presence of mind on the part of the train hands soon extinguished the blaze. Conductor Boyle was everywhere, looking after the passengers and arranging for their comfort, while brakeman Welsh, with the blood streaming down his face from some several cuts, worked like a Trojan wherever necessary.

Plenty of medical aid was on hand in a short time, but fortunately with the exception of Mr. Grobb, no one was in need of it.

A train was sent up by the Allanburgh branch from Niagara Falls to bring the mail and passengers, which arrived here about 3 p.m.

Various theories as to the cause of the accident are advanced, but the generally accepted one is spreading of the rails, after the engine had passed, as it was the front trucks of the baggage car which first left the track.


[Welland Tribune, 7 June 1898]

A railway accident took place at the M.C.R.R. station on Friday night last, in which about fifty men were jammed in a pile together and five of them were so seriously hurt that they had to be sent home. The men were all standing on three hand cars, packed like sardines, and were coming back from work. The cars were being propelled at a high rate of speed and were following each other closely, when the first one jumped the track and turned over, the one following dumped its heavy load of men on top of them, and then the third car crashed into the other two. Nearly every one was injured more or less. All the men were from St. Thomas and Hagersville.


Three G.T.R. Freight Cars Make the Plunge

[People’s Press, 18 June 1907]

Niagara Falls, June 15- an accident which many people have feared might happen some day, occurred this morning at Niagara Falls. A heavy freight train was coming across the Grand Trunk steel arch bridge into Canada, when, in some mysterious manner, three of the cars, when right in the centre of the bridge, jumped the track. They keeled over and fell into the pedestrian compartment of the bridge underneath, demolishing the railing, and then dropped into the river several feet below.

The rest of the train kept the track. A brakeman, who had been standing on top of a car towards the rear of the train, heard a bumping on ahead and surmising that a brake team had dropped down and there was bound to be a smash, he jumped from the car in time to save himself had the whole train gone down over the side of the bridge.

The bridge was badly damaged, but traffic was not blocked for any length of time. A brake beam dropping in all probability caused the accident.


Niagara Falls, June 16- There is now reason to believe that two lives were lost when the three freight cars dashed off the railway arch bridge into the Whirlpool rapids yesterday morning. The supposed victims are two unknown men, probably tramps. When the train, of which the lost cars formed part, was pulling out of Suspension Bridge yards two men were seen to board it and get into one of the empty cars which went down into the gorge a few minutes later. No one saw them leave the cars. It is doubtful if they got away. After their derailment the cars ran close to the railing of the bridge, and to jump then would be certain destruction. If the two men stayed in the cars they went with them in that awful leap to the rapids, over two hundred feet below.


Engineer Killed-Fireman Herdman of Welland Injured

[Welland Tribune, 1 February 1910]

James Herdman, a former resident of Welland, and whose mother still lives here, had a narrow escape from a horrible death on Sunday morning. Herdman is a fireman, and his mate, Henry Rumple, was instantly killed. The two were on a T.H. & B. freight engine, and had been engaged all night in making up a train of the T.H.& B. belt line, Hamilton. When the accident occurred, the last shunt was about to be made, and the engine had just passed under the bridge on the main line of the G.T.R., when it jumped the rails and ran into the embankment. Some of the pig iron which was on a car next the tender shot into the cab and hit Engineer Rumple, killing him instantly. The engine was a total wreck, and how Herdman escaped is a mystery. He was injured, however, and six stitches were necessary to close a wound in his head. The dead engineer had only been married seven weeks. After the accident, the cars caught fire, but the blaze was extinguished by a bucket brigade.

Railway Accident


[Citation appears to be: SR, January 21, 1881]

Wellandport, Jan 18—The 2.30 express this morning on the Canada Southern, with seven coaches and quite a number of passengers aboard, ran off the track a little past here. All but the engine were overturned and badly wrecked some being thrown beyond the railway ditch into the fields. Some of the passengers were badly hurt, one of them having his ankle broken and a lady had her head badly bruised and received some internal injuries. A car had to be broken open to get one lady out. As far as can be heard of none are seriously injured. It is supposed that a rail was cracked or broken.

Collision on Wabash

[Simcoe Reformer, August 19, 1904]

A collision took place on Monday night between two Wabash freight trains at Welland Junction. Very little damage was done to the engines and only one freight car was overturned. The accident however caused some delay in traffic.