Drs. M.J. Wardrope, H.L. Simpson, F.E. Walsh, C. Murray and R.R. Withrow were immediately on the scene later followed by nurses Miss Kathleen Fraser, Miss Rebecca Hargreaves, Mrs. James McGowan, Mrs. William McSephney, Miss Annis Jones and Miss Jean Wilson.  Also on the scene was Chief of Police William Mont, Corporal Nillson and Officer Alex Richmond helping to recover bodies and keep crowd control as well as taking care of the valuable mail and express. Local draeger men rushed to offer assistance among them were Frank Stevens, John Cottenden, Norman Turnbull, Dan Lockie McKay, Chas. Meagher and Carl Johnson.  These men worked hard at the wreckage in order to extricate the bodies.

     In first class passengers were thrown from their seats into the aisle and to the floor.  One woman was driven against the back of the seat so hard it was a miracle her neck wasn’t broken.

     Those in second class were even more severely shaken up.    After the crash everyone rushed to the doors which fortunately opened without a hitch.

     The Express Messenger, Camille LeBlanc, 41, of Moncton, was alone in his car at the time of the crash; his remains were identified by his revolver.

     The tracks were finally cleared by 2 am Thursday morning.  Fire Chief Rooney was called at 10 pm Wednesday night for assistance in quenching the flames.  The blaze was finally extinguished about 6 am Thursday.

     Those killed in the train wreck were: Engineer Clarence Bauer, Express Messenger Camille LeBlanc, Alfred Legere and Ernest Long of Maccan.  Two unidentified bodies were also found the following day.

     Had the Ocean Limited not been five minutes late that night it would have been practically into the station or so far up the grade as to prevent as serious an accident as took place.

The Heritage Corner, Springhill Record

January 12, 2011

May 5, 1937 – Coal Cars Crash into Express: 6 killed

Twelve runaway coal cars carrying 40 to 50 tons of coal each, thundered down the west bound track out of Springhill Junction at 5:45 Wednesday evening and about two miles from the station crashing headlong into the “Ocean Limited” crack CNR Express, bound for the Junction and running east a few minutes behind schedule.

     The Extra No. 3376 in charge of Conductor McKenna had been shunting in the yard sorting out the coal cars they were to take east after the regular went through. They had practically completed their task and Engineer Dave Murray, of Truro, had shunted the last lot of coal cars into the siding while brakeman Keddy held open the switch.  No brakeman rode the moving cars, which in the past had come to a standstill a short distance from the switch where there is a slight dip in the road which helps to stop the cars.  Too late brakeman Keddy looked up to see that the cars had failed to stop and were gathering speed as they continued to move toward the split switch.  He raced after the now rapidly moving cars but could not overtake them.

     By the time the danger was apparent to engineer Murray, who after shunting the cars, was moving his engine away from the scene.  Desperately he drove his engine after the now fast-moving coal cars which were gaining momentum on the grade and racing full speed towards the oncoming passenger train, already overdue at Springhill Junction by a few minutes.  Realizing that he could not overtake the cars, Murray could do nothing but stop the engine and await the inevitable.  Later the crew brought back to the yard five cars of coal which had not been derailed at the crash.

     Meanwhile at the Junction station Agent McPherson was frantically telephoning to Athol trying to stop the Ocean Limited from going through but it was too late the express had already gone through Athol and there being no intermediate points where a warning could be sent.  They could do nothing but await the crash.

     Swinging around the inside curve where the impact occurred the fireman could see the uncontrolled cars screaming down the heavy grade toward the express.  The fireman shouted “Oh my God” and then he jumped through the window.  He had back and head injuries and was badly scalded about the face.


     Engineer Clarence Bauer, who was on the off side, is said to have slammed on the emergency brakes and stuck to his cab.  A short time later he was taken from the cab of his engine, as it lay at the foot of a low embankment, dead, scalded by living steam about the face and hands.  The glass in his goggles remained intact as he was brought to the morgue in Springhill.  Bauer was given his post a few weeks earlier as Conductor Bob Linden wanted a change.  Linden was the driver of the train that figured in the accident at Thompson Station a few years earlier.

     Dancing flames cast a lurid glow over an eerie scene as volunteer workmen labored steadily at the forward end of the Ocean Limited in an effort to find the bodies of those known to be riding at the time of the wreck.  Two young men Alfred Legere and Ernest Long of Maccan had caught the train as it was going through Maccan and were heading for Springhill.  Ernest Long had been eating his supper with his family when he heard the whistle blow and left his supper to catch the train.  The baggage car and the express car were lying on their sides with flames shooting high while the workmen forced their way into the front end of the baggage car with axe and mall, searching for the remains of Long and Legere.  Bits of a sweater were found which was identified as that of Alfred Legere.  Nothing could be found to identify Ernest Long.  Parts of bodies were found under heaps of coal, under the trucks of one of the coal cars that had smashed to bits in the collision and other body parts actually found in the baggage car where they had been driven by the impact.  Each and every piece found was conveyed to the undertaking parlors in Springhill.