Monday, March 15, 2010

Desjardins Railway Disaster


If you have walked along the Hamilton West Harbour cycling path you may have noticed a plaque commemorating the Desjardins Railway Disaster of 1857. The historic marker is on the path just underneath the High Level Bridge. I have always been extremely interested in this important if gruesome event in Hamilton's history, and now, thanks to a digitized project undertaken by the Hamilton Public Library, I can satisfy my curiosity. The library has done a beautiful job of digitizing the original booklet that reads like a forensic study of the disaster. You can flip through an online copy of the "Full Details of the Railway Disaster of the 12th of March, 1857 at the Desjardins Canal on the line of the Great Western Railway". Here you will read about how the train fell through the swing-bridge into the icy canal below killing 57 passengers in an instant. You will read about the community's response to the event and learn something about the victims - among them a Church minister, plough maker, bookseller, gas inspector, quartermaster, flour merchant and stock breeder, as well as several infants. Click here to read this wonderfully copied orginial document.

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