OK...here we go then.
Photo Courtesy Barrie Sanford author of ROYAL METAL Fraser River Rail Bridge
The conductor called to say that the caboose was off the swing span, so I released the train brakes and reduce the throttle by one or two notches.
CN trains were detoured over CP between Coquitlam, Sapperton and Mission, and many train and engine crews made a lot of 'overtime' money in the process. Young engineer Bruce Harvey made the leap from the junior assigned hogger, working the 2400 West Lead (a really shitty job), to the engineer's spareboard..."the money machine". At the same time, CP experienced shortages of crews as they had to provide 'pilots' for all the CN trains detouring over their track. And Bill, who was no stranger to high mileage jobs, was one of those pilots handling our trains over his track. We spent many hours together sitting on CP track waiting for clearance to get through Coquitlam and onward to Sapperton.
And that's how I met "Scrap Iron".
AN ADDENDUM TO THIS STORY MAY 23, 2012
Photos and notes by Claude Prutton
Note: Your will read, in almost every account of this disastrous event that the barge, The Swiftsure Prince was blown from its moorings at Pacific Coast Terminals by a strong wind. I can assure you that while it might be reasonable to assume that 'wind' was the culprit, I can assure you that was an unlikely scenario.
In fact, the air was calm at the time the barge slipped from its moorings and it was the incoming tide that carried the barge into the New Westminster Rail Bridge and not the wind, for there was no wind blowing.
There were only four people on the bridge at the time of the incident; the bridge operator; Benny, the conductor; Cecil, the head end brakeman and myself, the engineer.
At the time, there was a very thick blanket of dense fog lying at a depth of approximately thirty feet. Above that, the air was clear and and the bridge operator could see the superstructure of the vessel as it was coming upriver, towards the span and he was able to warn us of the approach in time to get the train off the doomed span.
The following is from an email that I recently received from Claude Prutton, via Mark Forseille.
To say the least, I am extremely grateful to Mark, for taking the initiative to forward Claude's email to me, and especially to Claude (for taking the attached photos).
Caboose Coffee and its readers are all the richer for their efforts.