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Photograph of railway cars, piled on top of a boat, in the water below a bridge


The railway accident at St. Hilaire

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Railway Disaster

At 1:20 a.m. on June 29, 1864 a terrible train accident occurred at St. Hilaire, Quebec. A train was filled with immigrants travelling from Québec to Montréal on their way to a new life in the West. The train stopped at St. Hilaire Station then continued on. One mile ahead was a swing bridge that had opened to let five barges and a steamer ship through. A red light signaled the train to stop. However, the train kept going and fell through the gap into the Richelieu River. Despite rescue efforts, of the 475 people on board, 99 died and many were injured.

"The engine plunged into the water alongside the barge, and is out of sight. The eleven cars were piled on top of each other, in the utmost confusion. They were all a perfect wreck; and some of them were smashed to atoms."
"Terrible Accident at St. Hilaire", Montreal Gazette, June 30, 1864, p. 2

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