TRAGEDY ON THE RAILWAY LINE (May 2/03)

In her history of the Dominion Atlantic Railway, Marguerite Woodworth notes that early in its existence there was a “series of derailments and minor accidents.” The management, Woodworth said, was kept in a “continued state of dread that some catastrophe would happen.”

When the railway line was constructed in this area of the Valley, “accidents of some sort began to occur with almost daily regularity.” Woodworth wrote that sparks from the locomotives set fires along the line, blundering trainmen met with minor injuries, and so on.

Luckily, Woodworth said, there were no major injuries. However, there was a near tragedy early in the railway’s construction period when a horse wandered onto the track; some 30 passengers nearly went over a high bluff in one of the cars when the locomotive struck the horse and was derailed.

The newspapers called this a “most providential escape” since only a few scrapes and bruises were suffered by the passengers. However, it wouldn’t be the last time that livestock on the tracks would derail the train; and some of those collisions would have tragic consequences.

On October 13, 1920, several Kings County residents were crewing a freight train running out of Truro to the Annapolis Valley. On board were firemen Clarence McCann, Frederick Yould, and driver Thomas Walsh, all of Kentville; the second driver was William Rawding of Waterville.

At 5:30 that morning the freight train, a “long double-header” with two locomotives and cars loaded to capacity with cement, coal and general merchandise was nearly two miles out of Truro when cows wandered onto the tracks; the resulting collision had tragic consequences.

“One man was killed and three others seriously injured when a Dominion Atlantic… special freight train which left here (Truro) at 5:30 o’clock this morning for Windsor was derailed ” the Morning Chronicle reported in its October 13 issue. “Fireman Fred Yould of Kentville was killed and those seriously injured were Drivers Wm. Rawding of Waterville, Kings Co., and Thomas Walsh of Kentville, who were badly scalded and otherwise injured. Fireman Clarence McCann, of Kentville, was severely scalded.”

The Morning Chronicle reported that “two cows were responsible for the derailment.” Upon striking the cows both engines left the rail and rolled down an embankment, carrying the trainmen with them. “There was so much damage done to both engines that only a succession of miracles seem to have prevented the death of all the men comprising the engine crews,” the Morning Chronicle said.

The death of Frederick Yould at age 20 united the town of Kentville in mourning. Yould was the son of Benjamin Yould, a Dominion Atlantic Railway engineer. Most of Kentville turned out for the funeral and the entire town was shut down.

There would be other tragic accidents on the railway but none would strike as closely to home in the railway hub of Kentville as the death of Frederick Yould.

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