In August 1989 the boat train, on its way to Borden, derailed in North Wiltshire. The engine stayed on the track but the train didn’t. In this excitement was an empty tank car from Charlottetown, the two idler flat cars from Borden (used when loading the ferry and as spacer cars on the trains when tank cars were in the consist), and van #79824.
I thought that hi-rail crane that CN brought over from Moncton was pretty cool.
I think my Dad and I spent most the evening watching the careful operation of getting these cars sorted out and re-railed. It was a really well run operation and I remember we made a quick run down to the gas station over on Route 2, just south of the derailment site, to pick up trays of coffee and snacks for the CN crews as a little thank you for allowing us to hang out and watch their work.
By August 1989 the final decisions regarding the future of railroading on PEI had been decided and every day was one day closer to the end. I sounds silly, but we were watching something important disappear and no amount of wishing otherwise was going to reverse that. Trains were running but only as work extras, unscheduled and only as needed. Given the short runs and erratic schedules exposure to trains on PEI was becoming something of a fleeting event. While the derailment was unfortunate, it provided to those of us who headed out to see it a chance to immerse ourselves in the work of real railroads for more than we were usually afforded.
I’m grateful to have had the chance to be a part of this event and even more so that Dad and I were able to share in it together. I sure am glad he suggested we head out to see what all the excitement was about. Thanks.