Incident at Indian Line

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by doctorwayne, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Here are some old photos that surfaced recently, depicting an incident that occurred almost 70 years ago. Inquiries reveal that several parties, including not only the participants directly involved, but also upper echelon railroad managers, had conspired to suppress all records of this occurrence. It appears that several photographers contributed to this file, though none are named. Understandably, after so much time, the photos are in less than pristine condition.

    It was on a Saturday, May 22, 1937. The fishing boats on Lake Erie had been late getting back to Port Maitland the previous day, with the result that the usual carload of fresh fish that went out on the early morning train, bound for Toronto, was not in the consist. An extra shift was called for the processing plant, and a car was finally readied for shipment. The only available loco was Grand Valley 34, which had been assigned as the district switcher. Here she is, picking up the express car: the icing crew had just finished top-icing the open crates of fish as the loco crew coupled to the car.

    Motive power was not the only commodity in short supply this Spring morning: The only fireman available was young Cyrus Bartholemew, son of prominent Lowbanks physician Cyrus Bartholemew Sr., who also sat on the Railroad's Board of Directors. As his father had, young Cy was spending his summer vacation working for the railroad. (Actually, summer vacation had not yet begun, as the fourth year's final exams remained to be written. Cy's intention was to quit school after the exams, and pursue a career in railroading, inspired, no doubt, by his Father's fond recollections of his own teenage summers. Cy's Mother, who often referred to him as C.B. Bartholemew II, envisioned him as either a surgeon or a barrister, or perhaps, Prime Minister. She was not above pulling a few strings in an attempt to discourage young Cy's railroad aspirations, either, although she was unaware of his impending "career move". Cy's Father, also ignorant of his son's plan, was secretly proud of Junior's exploits of the past two summers, but was also aware, through the grapevine, that the boy was not really cut out for the physical demands of the job. Two summers ago, working as a Hostler's helper, young Cy had accidentally emptied the entire contents of the Lowbanks coaling tower into, onto, and all over the tender of an Erie Northshore Mikado, earning himself the nickname "Black Bart". Unfortunately, the lad interpeted bestowal of the nickname as acceptance into the inner sanctum of railroading, making him ever more determined to follow his path. The elder Bartholemew, attempting to steer a careful course between his wife's ambitions for her son and the son's own dreams, made it known to all employees that he should be apprised of any situations that might arise.) This would be young Cy's first trip as fireman on a road engine. The dream is at his fingertips.

    Here's the 34 near the Lowbanks station, pumping up the air.

    And making the brake test. The engineer is Kornelius van der Heuven, known to all as "Dutch". With almost 50 years of service, he'll be keeping a close watch over his green fireman. There's no headend brakeman today, as none is available: they'll pick one up in Elfrida, when they stop for water.

    Finally, the train is underway.The consist has been filled-out with two cars of lcl, another loaded with electric motors for the Coffield Washer Co. in Dunnville, and a carload of bagged sugar.

    Passing the carshops, the little Mogul is already gaining speed for the assault on the grade to Elfrida. "Black Bart", accustomed to the less urgent pace of switching, is wielding the scoop in an attempt to keep up with old Dutch's throttle work, but the pressure is already dropping.

    The six car train is just within the tonnage rating of the 34 on this Division, as she rolls out onto the Maitland River Bridge. The grade begins in earnest at the far end of the bridge.

    As the little train approaches the end of the span, Dutch widens on the throttle. Simultaneously, Young Cy steps on the pedal to open the firebox door. The sudden increase in draft sucks the fire from the grates, sending the half-burned culm through the tubes and up the stack.

    Dutch quickly slams the throttle shut, the momentum propelling the train forward into the grade, and leaving Black Bart's signature hanging in the still morning air.

    Using his vast wealth of experience, the old hogger coaxes his charge onward.

    In the caboose, the crew barely notices the slackening of the pace, attributing it to morning dew not yet burned from the rails on the grade.

    Meanwhile, approaching the level crossing on Indian Line are Ab and Rex, two of the Cruickshank boys. Their pick-up is loaded with crates of live poultry, bound for the market in nearby Aberfoyle. Afterwards, in addition to a few supplies, they plan on picking up some fireworks for the Victoria Day celebrations on Monday.

    As the loco lurches into the curve, it passes the whistle post for Indian Line, and Dutch reaches for the whistle cord. The road is lightly travelled, but the curve obscures his view of the crossing. Normally, the fireman would be watching out the left side, where the view is unobstructed, but young Cy is still trying to rebuild his fire, and there's no headend brakeman to cover for him.

    The string of unrelated small events that had begun earlier this morning in Lowbanks, at about the same time that the boys had set off down the lane from the family farm, was about to come together in a tangled ball.

    Only moments ago, two of the Cruikshank boys, Ab and Rex, had stalled their 1925 Model T pickup on the level crossing at Indian Line. On their way to the Farmer's Market in nearby Aberfoyle with a load of live poultry, the two were looking forward to a big day "on the town". Rex had just hopped out to man the starter crank when the boys heard a train whistling for the crossing. Looking along the track as it curved down towards the Maitland River, it was obvious that the train was moving slowly, and would surely be able to stop when the crew saw the situation ahead.

    Suddenly, it began to dawn on Rex that no one was looking out the fireman's cab window, and that the engineer, on the outside of the curve, couldn't even see the crossing from the right-hand seatbox. He hollered to his older brother, and both hurried to the rear of the vehicle, confident that they could easily push it clear. Unbeknownst to them, at the same time that their engine had died, the front u-joint on the driveshaft had disintegrated, and the disconnected end of the shaft was now firmly wedged in the flangeway of the crossing.
    The locomotive, seemingly struggling with its short train, drew ever closer, its progress unabated. Suddenly, Ab saw the driveshaft, and in an instant knew that if they pushed from the front, they could....
    The loco hit the little pick-up at about 15 mph, with both boys drawing back slightly, like a held breath, at the moment of impact. Almost immediately, they heard the brakes apply, even as the truck bounced along the track, shedding suddenly useless parts, and crated chickens alike.

    This photo was taken only minutes after the impact. A few of the chickens have survived, and the rear end brakeman, out of sight here, is gathering up a few that didn't: they'll make a fine meal for the crew later. Young Rex, still in shock, watches him with mouth agape. On the left, the Conductor issues orders, while Ab, nearest him, surveys the scene. The engineer, in overalls, begins to attempt to move the wreckage, while the fireman, at right, moves some debris from the track.

    If sufficient facts and photos can be found, the rest of this story will be told elsewhere. For now, the photo:

    I'll wrap-up this story later, with an edit to this original post.;)

  2. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    That was a good read and excellent photography...can't wait for the wrap-up!
  3. bigsteel

    bigsteel Call me Mr.Tinkertrain

    ooooh,cant wait to see what happens next!great pics wayne.--josh
  4. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    That is superb! Brilliant! Bravo!

    Great photos and a great storyline to go with them. Not only is this an appealing piece of literature, I also learned a few things about "railroad speak" along the way.

    Thanks DoctorWayne!
  5. cnw1961

    cnw1961 Member

    Wayne, fantastic story. I love it. .... OOh, I know, what’s going to happen... Will the boys survive??? The suspense is hard to bear. Can’t wait to read the end of the story.

    Wayne, I give you an A++++++ for this. :) :) :)
  6. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Thanks to all for the warm reception to this idea. The picture in the Photo Contest is probably the climax of the tale, although I will attempt to tie up the loose ends after the contest closes. I deliberately made the link to the Contest, rather than to just my entry: even though it's an interruption in the narrative, there are lots of good photos there, all worthy of being viewed. Maybe this will make a few more Members aware of the Contest, too. :D:D:D

  7. TruckLover

    TruckLover Mack CH613 & 53' Trailer

    jawdrop WOW WAYNE!!!!!!!jawdrop

    That was so cool :D :D and the story was AWESOME!!!:thumb: :thumb: That was some REALLY GREAT photography :thumb: :thumb: to and I like the color tone to it to, makes it look SWEET.:thumb: :thumb:

    I really can't wait for the continuation of the story :D :D :D
  8. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Very nice! I like the story line since it mention my old fishin' hole-Lake Erie.:D
  9. cn nutbar

    cn nutbar Member

    hi doc---move over ian wilson,there's a new kid in town aussie ---add another skill to your resume---STORY TELLER---you should write a book my friend !!!!
  10. Jim Krause

    Jim Krause Active Member

    Its too bad that those photographers didn't have color film. But of course the color would have deteriorated by now so its lucky that they used B&W. Great work Wayne. Can't wait for the climax. This is like waiting for the next episode of those old serial movies.
  11. UP SD40-2

    UP SD40-2 Senior Member

    GREAT STORY WAYNE!:thumb: :thumb: :thumb: the "aged" yellowed pics was a real nice touch too!;) i cant wait to see/read the ending:thumb:. :D -Deano
  12. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Fantastic Wayne!! Love the story and you've really captured the look of old-time photographs. :thumb: :thumb: :thumb:

  13. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Once again, thanks to everyone for taking the time to read through the story and view the pictures. I sent my brother a copy of the photo that's posted in the Photo Contest, and he sent me this reply:

    We especially enjoyed seeing the wire photo of that terrible train wreck. Did you see the story in the Gleaner?

    Miracle Bird Escapes Unscathed

    Adele the Chicken, of Puslinch walked away unharmed after the automobile she was apparently driving ended up on the main line of the Elora Gorge and Eastern Railway.

    Found wandering incoherent and dazed near the crash site, Adele has been unable to provide investigators with any details of the crash. Police believe she may have become disoriented by the smell emanating from nearby eating establishment, House of Foul.

    Alcohol is not believed to be a factor although several empty bottles of Hilda's It'll turn yer runners up barbecue sauce were found at the scene of the wreck.

    bye for now,

    Cliff Hoffentoth

  14. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Thanks, Val; now, if I could only become somewhat proficient with that *&@$#*+ "Paint"-thing, maybe I could make them look even more convincing. My apologies to all for those two "attempts".:oops: :oops:

  15. iis612

    iis612 Member

    I heard through the rumor mill that "Foul Play" has not been ruled out.
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Thanks for bringing this one back to the top - creativity here is awesome!

  17. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    That was great Wayne. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
  18. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    Thanks, guys. :) Maybe when I get back from vacation, Ill try to finish the story and post some pictures along with it. Kinda embarrassing having it out here on Page One and still unfinished. :oops:;):p:p

  19. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

    Great narrative and nicely-composed shots. Cool "historic" multimedia! :)

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