All Aboard! Exploring the Newfoundland Railway

Railway / Coastal History

Accidents and the Weather

St. Teresa NFLD - Train Wreck

Train Wreck at St. Teresa NFLD

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Length: 2:07 Min
File Size: 5.2 MB
Transcript

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Story Description:

When Rosalie Lombard was a student nurse at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital, she met doctors who had volunteered at the Grenfell Mission in St. Anthony on the northern peninsula of the Island of Newfoundland. After graduating in 1952 she decided to also volunteer at the Grenfell Mission in the desire to "use my nursing skills in a new and unusual environment."

Ms. Lombard and a fellow Grenfell worker also on her way to St. Anthony, boarded the Port aux Basques train going to Deer Lake. At St. Teresa, about halfway to Deer Lake there was suddenly a series of major jolts. Ms. Lombard recalls: "I heard a crashing and screeching up ahead. We were certain we were falling off a bridge or something worse, but suddenly we came to a halt on a slant. An elderly Newfoundlander sitting nearby looked out the window and calmly stated: 'I b'leve we be off the tracks'. We all clambered from our seats and down the steps to see what on earth had happened. Our car #45 was off the tracks, but everything ahead of ours was in a big mess. We had been wrecked! Engine #807, belching steam, wheels still spinning, was lying over the embankment upside down. The rest of the cars were accordion-pleated, the iron rails coiled and twisted..."

"I was engrossed in recording the scene with my new 8mm camera, including the dramatic sight of the engineer and fireman emerging from the overturned engine and being helped up the embankment by other crewmen..."

"It did not escape our attention, of course, that there was only one set of railroad tracks, and those badly mangled. We wondered how we would ever get on with our journey from this place in the middle of nowhere... We learned later that the crew was able to communicate with the railroad dispatch office by cutting into the telegraph wires strung along the tracks."

Eventually another train arrived to pick up the stranded passengers, and Ms Lombard continued uneventfully on her journey to the northern peninsula where she spent two years.