A chilly north wind is blowing the steam and smoke along
the length of Train No. 21, the Chicago Express as it pounds
through Hornby on Sunday, March 7,1954. On the headend is H1a No. 2807,
one of the early 4-6-4 Hudsons. This particular trip was historic
as it was the last regularly scheduled run of No. 21 behind steam west
of Toronto and next day GM 1400 series FP9 diesels took over. In the
next three years there were to be five more instances of steam on Nos.
21 and 22 when diesels were unavailable.
Built by MLW in December 1929, No. 2807 was one of several Hla's assigned
to the Western Lines for passenger service. When just seven months
old, it was involved in a serious accident on July 17,1930. Rolling
along on an eastbound 53 car extra freight between Lydiatt and Molson,
Manitoba, the boiler blew up at 5:30 p.m. Engineer A. R. Elliott of
Kenora and fireman R. D. Meyers of Winnipeg were killed instantly and
headend brakeman M. J. Ripley was seriously injured. Two men riding
aboard a loaded stock car and a box car of household furniture were
also badly injured, together with two hoboes stealing a ride. The first
three cars were derailed and were consumed by fire from the live coals
of the firebox. The blast blew down the telegraph wires slowing rescue
work and nurses and doctors were rushed to the scene from Winnipeg on
Train No. 4 which was rerouted via Beausejour.
In this particular accident the boiler never left the frame as is common
in most locomotive explosions. The crown sheet blew downward through
the grates and firebox door. The tremendous force of the blast lifted
the engine free of the tender and turned it completely around, fifty
feet from the point of explosion. Train No. 1, the Imperial Limited,
had passed Extra 2807 only a few minutes before the accident otherwise
a greater disaster might have occurred. The direct cause of the calamity
was determined by a coroner's investigation as insufficient water in
the boiler. This could have been due to either a mechanical malfunction
or to human error.
No. 2807 was rebuilt in Montreal, emerging from Angus Shops early in
1931, the only rebuilt Hudson on the C.P.R. It was returned to
the Western Lines where it ran until the new H1c semi-streamlined
Hudsons appeared in the west in 1937. Then, together with the
other old Hudsons, it was transferred to the Eastern Lines.
Its time in the east was spent in both passenger and freight service.
For a while in the early 1950's No. 2807 was assigned to John Street,
spending a lot of time pooled with the Royal Hudsons on the Toronto
to Windsor run, where it turned in some great performances. For approximately
a month the engine handled Trains Nos. 21 and 22 to Windsor and back
without any broken rod brasses which was exceptional for the locomotives
on this hard run. Eventually bumped to permanent freight service, No.
2807's appointment with the torch came at Angus on July 17,1958, exactly
28 years to the day after the explosion. W.H.N.Rossiter