Wanstead Ontario
Wanstead was the scene of a very sad and tragic train wreck December 26 1902.
There were 31 killed and 35 injured. (4 from Petrolia) Two trains collided head on. I will have much more to follow. Below is a poem written about the tragedy.

Click here for actual Petrolia Paper article


Wanstead, ON Train Collision, Dec 26 1902

HEAD ON COLLISION TELESCOPES PASSENGER AND FREIGHT TRAIN.

SMOKING CAR THE SCENE OF GREATEST FATALITIES WHERE MEN ARE CRUSHED AND MANGLED AND THREATENED WITH DEATH BY FIRE.

                  A frightful collision occurred last night between a passenger and a freight train on the Grand Trunk Railroad at Wanstead, a station on the Sarina branch of that road, and according to the latest reports from the scene of the accident thirty persons were killed and eighteen were injured. The passenger train was the Pacific express No. 5, westbound. It was running at a high rate of speed and the freight which was passing east under slow headway, was to have taken the switch at Wanstead to allow the passenger train to pass. Apparently neither engineer saw the danger in time to avoid the accident, for the two engines came together near the west switch with a frightful crash, over-turning into the ditch. The baggage and express cars telescoped into the smoker with appalling results. The wreck was complete and it is thought that hardly a single passenger escaped injury. The other cars of the passenger train remained on the track. Word was quickly sent to this city and doctors were soon on the scene. The work of removing the dead and injured was then proceeded with.
Both engineer and fireman of the freight train are missing.
The ill-fated express consisted of two baggage cars, a smoker, two first class coaches and two Pullmans. The smoker, which was telescoped by the coach behind it, had the sides knocked out of it, the roof falling and imprisoning the passengers.
It was in this car that most of the awful havoc and loss of life occurred.
The wreck shortly after the collision caught fire and but for the efforts of a brigade of passengers organized and led by an old man, who was himself a passenger on the ill-fated train, the disaster might have been more disastrous to those pinned down in the wreckage. The brigade put out the fire by throwing snow on the flames with their hats and hands. They turned their efforts toward getting out the wounded. Their sufferings were augmented by a blinding snow storm and a thermometer near zero.
The dead and injured are arriving in London by special train this morning and the work of identifying the dead and in caring for the sufferers is being hurried as fast as possible.
The bodies taken from the wreck were frightfully mangled, some of them almost beyond recognition. The scenes attending the removal of the dead bodies from the wreckage were pitiful in the extreme. Several of the women on the train fainted, and the air was filled with the anxious cries of those separated from their loved ones, not knowing whether they were killed or saved.
MISS NELLIE GEDDES, of Sarnia, was among the killed. She was returning with her sister, BEATRICE, from a visit to relatives in this city. BEATRICE was slightly injured, and was brought back to London on one of the early relief trains. Not finding her sister here she became convinced that she had been saved and had gone on to Sarnia, and this morning BEATRICE left for home confident that she would there meet her sister.





The latest estimate of the fatalities is thirty killed and thirty-five or more injured.
The darkness of the night and the raging of a blizzard added horrors to the wreck. Fortunately the fire horror was averted. A fire broke out in the wreckage of the day coach, but it was smothered with snow and coats which were thrown on it before it gained any headway. The Pacific express is a fast train. Last night it was delayed two hours by the heavy travel and at Wanstead it was speeding to make up time. The freight was working slowly eastward under orders to take the switch at Wanstead and allow the express to pass. In the blinding snowstorm neither engineer saw the other train approaching, apparently and the freight had just come in on the siding when the passenger train came up.
The shock was awful. The trains came together squarely, head-on. In a second the baggage and express cars of the passenger train telescoped into the day coach. This day coach was reduced to splinters and as it was crowded the results were terrible. Fire that broke out was quickly smothered but the fire was scarcely more dangerous than the cold. For three hours or more wounded and maimed passengers were pinned underneath the wreckage, crying piteously for help, while they suffered from exposure to the elements.
Exposure undoubtedly led to the death of some of the more seriously injured and it caused the death of some of those who might have been saved if it had been only a question of extircating them from the wreckage.
The Pullman cars staid on the track and were comparatively uninjured, although the passengers in them were severely shaken in the shock. As quickly as possible word was sent to this city of the wreck, and a relief train and a dozen London doctors were dispatched to the scene. The work of removing the dead and injured was at once begun. Half a dozen bodies were recovered within a short time, and a number of wounded removed from the wreckage. Trains were made up to send the wounded to London hospitals.
Efforts to identify the wounded and dead were attended with difficulty. The dead bodies taken from the wreck were frightfully mangled, some of them almost beyond recognition.
J. A. Lamonte of Wyoming was the night operator at Watford, the telegraph station nearest to the siding at Wanstead. Responsibility for the wreck has not been fixed. It is said by some that it came through a confusion in orders, for which Lamonte was responsible. Lamonte was in some way injured in the wreck.
The accident is said to have been due to the failure of an operator to give orders to the express train to meet the freight at the station.
One of the passengers describes the accident as follows:
"We were running at about forty miles an hour when without the slightest warning the two trains met with terrific force. On examination it was found that the two engines were in the ditch. The baggage car was thrown on top of the first class coach, instantly killing a great many, and pinning about fifty other passengers in the debris. The screams, moans and prayers of the injured were heartrending. One poor woman begged that her child be saved as she was dying. The little one was carefully taken from the wreck and will probably recover. The mother was afterwards relieved, but only to die in a few minutes."
"About thirty people were killed, and forty badly injured, some of whom will die."







 








Wanstead, Ontario Train Collision, Dec 26 1902

 Unofficial list of identified dead:
ALEXANDER STEWART, Petrolia, Ont.
MRS. ALEXANDER STEWART, Petrolia, Ont.
A. RICKETTS, fireman No. 5, Sarnia Tunnel.
J. GILLIES, engineer freight, Sarnia Tunnel.
MRS. J. TROTTER, Petrolia, Ont.
MR. H. B. LAWRENCE, Watford, Ont.
F. S. FREEMAN, Oil Springs, Ont., or Hensall, Ont.
NICHOLAS JEFFREY, London, Ont.
GUY DE RENIER, ticketed to La Crosse, Wis.
DR. PENNWARDEN, ticketed for Petrolia, Ont.
MRS. DR. PENNWARDEN.
J. H. BROCK, Brucefield, Ont.
O. B. BURWELL, Port Huron, Mich.
WILSON MORTON, Chicago.
MISS LOTTIE LYNCH, Port Huron, Mich., died in the hospital.
MR. and MRS. CLEM BODLEY, Port Huron, Mich.
EDWARD BOYCE, Prescott.
J. H. BROCK, Brucefield, Ont.
VIOLET BROCK, aged 11 years, Chicago, formerly of Brucefield, Ont.
GEORGE BURKHOLDER, Sarnia, Ont.
ALEXANDER CAMERON, Strathroy, Ont.
EDWARD DE BEAUS, Prescott, Ont.
ARCHIE DOUGLASS, Alvinston, Ont.
MISS NELLIE GEDDES, Sarnia, Ont.
WILLIAM JOHN LUCAS, Strathroy, Ont.
GLEN ROALGY, Port Huron, Mich.
D. SMITH, trainman.
GEORGE STACEY, Sarnia, Ont.
ROBERT STEVENSON, of Wyoming.
MRS. JULIA BARNES, Woodstock, Ont.
The Injured:
ALEXANDER M. STEWART, Wingham, Ont.
MRS. J. J. CULBERSON, Port Huron, Mich., fractured jaw.
MISS FLOSSIE CULBERSON, Port Huron, Mich.
JAMES P. RAMPLIN, Toronto, Ont.
MRS. SAMUEL CUMMINGS, Port Huron, Mich.
HATTIE NORBEY, Peterboro, Ont.
JAMES B. NORBEY, Peterboro, Ont.
NELLIE COOTE, Chicago.
THOMAS COOTE, London, business address Chicago.
FRANK E. BAKER, London, Ont., dislocated shoulder.
WILLIAM M. MORSE, wife and child, Sarnia.
ROBERT JACKSON, Petrolia, Ont.
HOBART STEWART, Oshkosh, Wis., fractured hip.
JAMES BARNES, Woodstock, Ont.
GEORGE STACEY, Wanstead, Ont.
EDWARD D. EVANS, Prescott, Ont.
DR. BASIL HARVEY, Chicago.
MRS. J. M. STEWART, Oshkosh, Wis., fractured jaw.
RUSSELL QUINN, Chicago, burns, considered serious.
BEATRICE GEDDER, Sarnia, Ont.
JOHN BIRD, Chicago, fractured arm.
J. A. LAMONT, Wyoming, Ont., fractured leg.
MRS. W. GOTT, London, Ont.
MARGARET GOTT, her daughter, London, Ont.
J. S. LAWLER, Strathroy, Ont.
W. H. COLE and wife, Flint, Mich.
R. K. McDONALD, Strathroy, Ont.
MRS. P. M. BYRNES, Sarnia, Ont.
ANNIE SINCLAIR, Komoka, Ont.
MRS. PUGSLEY, London, Ont.
EARL STEWART, Oshkosh, Wis., broken arm and collarbone.







Downtown Wanstead, small but there. ca.1908






 
















                        



























































 


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