Mirrored image of the Centennial Bridge

Mirrored image of the Centennial Bridge
One frosty and very still morning in November, 2010, Centennial Bridge, Miramichi, NB, Canada

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Miramichi, NB, Canada
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Moon Rising Over Neguac Beach, NB, Canada

Moon Rising Over Neguac Beach, NB, Canada
Moon Rising Over Neguac Beach, Neguac, New Brunswick, Canada

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Day the Circus left town

I came across this story on the Facebook site, Our Miramichi Heritage Photos.  It is a gathering of many people, the outcome was not so grand....the circus left town on a train bound for a derailment between Newcastle to Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.



1930 Circus Train Wreck
It was July of 1930, and the 5-ring Al G. Barnes Circus was touring eastern Canada. They had finished their Newcastle performance and had loaded the gear back onto the circus train. That was early in the morning of Sunday, July 20th, and their next performance was to be in Charlottetown. After Charlottetown, they were to stop in Moncton and then continue with stops in Nova Scotia.

It was 4:25 AM before the train pulled out. There was a locomotive and tender followed by ten cars for the animals. These were followed by eleven flat cars and gondolas and eight passenger cars. Finally there was the caboose. Newspaper reports indicated that there were over 700 people on the train. This seems unlikely, but the number was certainly large.

The departure from Newcastle had been delayed, and the circus employees tried to get some sleep. It had been a warm day and the passenger cars were sweltering, so several of the crew decided to sleep on the flat cars and gondolas.

The train was passing through Canaan Station about fourteen miles northwest of Moncton when it derailed at 6:55 AM. It was indicated in early newspaper reports that the train had hit a broken rail at 30 m.p.h., but later they said that there had been a broken arch-bar on one of the cars. Railway cars no longer have arch bars, which was a steel frame holding the four-wheel assemblies together at each end of the car. It was the eighteenth car, one of the flats or gondolas, which first left the track. Three passenger cars at the rear end of the train and the animal cars at the head end also derailed, but many of the others were sent off the track. Some of these remained upright, but a good number of others were totally destroyed.

A relief train was sent out from Moncton and many citizens also attended the scene. The injured were taken to the hospital and the dead were removed from the wreckage. Four or five people had died and another seventeen or eighteen were injured. Those who had been sleeping on the open cars had been in special jeopardy.

The list of dead was reported differently in the newspapers. One reported the dead to be Los Angeles prop men Albert Johnson and Frank Finnegan, a waiter named James McFarland believed to be from Toronto, James A. Stephenson of Fredericton, and an unidentified hobo; five in total. Another mentioned Johnson, Finnegan and McFarland (believed to be from Montreal) as circus employees, plus a James Arthur Stephens possibly of Fredericton; four only. Stephens or Stephenson may therefore have been the hobo, and it seems that the count of four dead is correct.

The families of Albert Johnston and James McFarland could not be located, and they were buried in the Elmwood Cemetery in Moncton on July 24, 1930, Rev. S.J. MacArthur officiating. There was a large funeral procession from the Tuttle Brothers Funeral Chapel with the mayor and other dignitaries in attendance.

The damaged circus equipment was taken to the Fair Grounds in Moncton for sorting and repairs, where possible. The Charlottetown show was cancelled, but a show was put on in Moncton and the circus then proceeded to Nova Scotia. ·

The following are three pictures depicting the aftermath of the accident:



  
To keep on track and see more crowds (for various reasons) go to
www.sepiasaturday.blogspot.com   Hope you all had a good Valentine's Day on February 14th.

19 comments:

  1. That's a crowd I'd definitely have avoided. Anything said about the animals?

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    1. No, I wondered about that too, guess they weren't considered "news worthy"....

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  2. It looks horrific. I wonder how many in that crowd were actually helping and how many had come to gawp at the tragedy. Very sad.

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  3. Hi Rosie I wonder if you realise you have word verification switched on still. It’s actually often numbers now, and sometimes very blurry, playing havoc with the eyesight! There appears to be a consensus amongst Sepians that comment moderation on any post over seven days has done away with spam. Won’t you consider removing word verification and giving comment moderation a try instead?

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    1. Oh dear, I did not even know I had it on. I will try to fix this, I probably have to go to Tools and go from there?

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    2. I believe I have fixed the Word Verification, if not, please let me know, thanks, Rosie

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  4. I wondered about the animals too. There are definitely some ghouls in the crown scenes.
    In the tradition of the circus the show had to go one. Only missing one venue was quite an achievement.

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  5. What a sad day indeed. So very sad to see this, but your photos of it are excellent.

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  6. What a mess!

    Personally, I find comment moderation less bothersome than word verification. I think not allowing Anonymous comments is a good way of avoiding spam. I use comment moderation only for posts more than 2 weeks old.

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  7. What a disaster for the circus people, and not much fun to be at that circus for a while afterwards I imagine, or did they take the approach that the show must go on?

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  8. Wow what a sad mess. Very interesting story though.

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  9. Well done Rosie you manged to remove the word verification. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you Little Nell for enlightening me, I did not know or remember, hard to know the difference at my age...LOL

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  10. The report mentioned the animal cars & some others derailed, but still other cars went completely off the track & many of those overturned & were wrecked, so I'm assuming the animal cars stayed upright & hopefully the animals weren't injured. Odd the article didn't mention anything about them, though. Still, the deaths of people on the train would, of course, take precedence in the report of the accident.

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  11. I wondered about the animals as well. I found out that the animals were in the front car and were not injured (http://algbarnescircus.blogspot.com/2011/02/train-wreck-article.html).

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    1. It clearly stated in this article that the animal car had derailed too. (fourth paragraph).

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  12. Vintage photos of train wrecks are quite common. But circus train wrecks were a real prize. I have a few circus band photos that have sent me into the history of circuses. These kinds of accidents seem to have happened pretty regularly with all the travel miles the circus shows made each season. The mishaps, accidents and especially the escaped animals were always promoted for the free publicity too.

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