Welland History .ca

Historic EVENTS in and around Welland

Broken Rail Caused Engine To Plunge Off The Track

[Citation appears to be: Bru Can Sim. April 18, 1887]

In the course of an article on railroads and other commercial aspects, an exchange relates the following incident:–

In 1880 Capt. Prindville left Buffalo in a Canada Southern train for Chicago. Just the other side of the Welland Canal a broken rail caused the engine to plunge off the track and to upset. Every car on that train went over on its side, some of them on their backs. Not a passenger was injured. The captain says that it was the most complete wreck he ever saw, and that it was marvelous that no one was killed. An agent of the company came rushing along a few hours in a “special” with an attorney. Instantly, the Captain says, the whole train load of people who had been returning thanks to God were taken with spinal difficulties and all kinds of horrid injuries of one sort or another. He detected a young fellow who had sat next to him, and who had laughingly been congratulating himself on his escape, blackening his eyes with mud. The railroad agent wrote a check for $100 for that sly young man on the spot. The others got checks in proportion.


Ellsworth’s Planing Mill Burned

WELLAND, July 30-Welland was visited with a disastrous conflagration to-day, resulting in the total destruction by fire of Ellsworth’s saw and planing mill, Shepards’s canning factory, and other property. Mr. Ellsworth and all his men were away working at a job in town, except the engineer, John Baker.  The fire originated in the boiler room, in the temporary absence of the engineer. The building was wholly of wood, barn-like and filled with dry, inflammable material, so that it blazed up like a bunch of matches. Although the fire took place at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and was immediately detected, yet before the alarm bell was rung, the smoke and flames were pouring out of every interstice of the building. Besides the large frame building a large quantity of lumber, manufactured and rough, was burned, making the heat so great as to threaten to ignite Schomacher’s and Gross’s houses to the south and Gross’s pump factory to the west. A quantity of lumber piled between Gross’s factory and the burning building quickly ignited and increased the danger to Gross’s. Fortunately the wind blew toward the river, so that the engine was got to working before the flames got to the hottest. Two streams were kept playing on the flames, which were speedily got under so far as the lumber was concerned, rendering Gross’s factory safe. The firemen worked as brave firemen only know how. Unfortunately the suction hose slipped and took in a lot of sand and pebbles, breaking but not entirely disabling the engine.

             Latterly the business of canning peas had been carried on by Mr. Shepard in the mill, steam from the boiler being utilized for cooking purposes. Until the day previous the number of women and children employed had been located upstairs in the planing mill, but had just been moved downstairs into an addition built for them. Had they been upstairs we would undoubtedly have a horror to relate, as it would have been utterly impossible for them to have escaped considering the fearful rapidity with which the flames enveloped the building.

             The principal losers are John Hunter, of the former firm of Hunter, Murray & Co., the first aqueduct contractors, who owned the saw and planing mill. Mr. Hunter’s loss is probably about $1000; insured for $2000.

             Geo. Ellsworth loses a large quantity of tools, plank and material. He was doing a good business in building, sawing &c., which is of course destroyed.

             H.N. Shepard who was canning peas for a Hamilton canning factory loses all he had invested in the business. The Hamilton factory will also be losers. There was about $600 or $700 worth of canned peas in the building, part of which were saved, as they were stored on the windward side of the building.

             Edward Teskey had 25 new fanning mills burned, valued at about $700. In a few days more the mills would have been sold and removed.

             W.H. Crow had about $500 worth of lumber burned, partially insured.

             A.D. Brown, of Wellandport, suffered a loss of some $200 on timber and plank that was being handled in the saw mill. This fire is further referred to in our article on the water works, elsewhere in this paper.

Welland Tribune

5 August 1887

Fire:30 July 1887


          Sunday morning, about 1 o’clock, as the Dexter House bus was returning from the Michigan Central depot, the driver observed a man making off from the direction of the Centennial block out of town towards the woods. Coming opposite the Centennial the driver also saw that the building was on fire in the interior. The Centennial is a poorly-constructed long frame building, divided into tenements, only one of which was occupied-that at the north end, by the colored indigent Lynn. The fire had been started about the middle of the block. The driver at once drove to the fire hall and alarmed Mr. Eastman who sounded the tocsin, and the steamer was speedily on the spot. By this time the fire had spread along under the roof, both ways, and for over half the length of the building. The roof was completely burned through in many places and the flames extended widely throughout the interior of the structure. That the building was not burned down is certainly matter of surprise, and too many, who would have liked to have seen the unsightly structure out of the way, regret. The putting out of the fire after it had gained so great headway is also an unmistakable certificate to the efficiency of our fire department and steamer. The damage done is not great, probably amounting to $300. The block is owned by Geo. W. Banks, Toronto, and is said to have been well insured. It was in course of being repaired and repainted. The fire is thought to have been the work of an incendiary…In this connection the members of Merritt Fire Co. desire to tender thanks to Deputy Reeve Burgar for kindly furnishing them with coffee at the close of their exhaustive labor at the fire. It touched the right spot, and was greatly appreciated by the “fire laddies.”

Welland Tribune

15 April 1887

Fire: 10 April 1887