Nova Scotia Archives

Archibald MacMechan

Halifax Disaster Record Office Materials

Report with photograph: "Damage to Canadian Government (Railways Property of Halifax Explosion".

2 pages : 30 x 39 cm.

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Damage to Canadian Government Railways Property by Halifax Explosion.

Canadian Railway and Marine World is greatly indebted to C. A. Hayes, General Manager, Eastern Lines, Canadian Government Railways, for the following information, which was prepared by F. B. Tapley, Assistant Engineer, Maintenance of Way. We are under deep obligations to them for it, prepared as it was during a time of great stress, when the officials were working day and night to restore the damage and succour the wounded and other survivors. When the full story is available, it will be seen that the general officers at Moncton and a large number of local officials at other points on the Intercolonial Ry., particularly those contiguous to Halifax, performed heroic work under most difficult and trying circumstances.

The collision of the steamships Imo and Mont Blanc in Halifax harbor on Dec. 6, which caused the cargo of the Mont Blanc to explode, wrecked a considerable portion of the railway facilities in the vicinity of Richmond yard and North St. station, and damaged other facilities along the water front at Deepwater, which is father south. The evidences on the ground would lead one to believe that the Mont Blanc exploded in the vicinity of piers 6 and 8, the greatest damage being done there and extending northeasterly toward Willow Park Jct., and southwesterly to the North St. station. Beginning at pier 9, which is just north of pier 8, and working southwesterly from there, a brief description of the damage to the railway property follows:-

Pier 9, which is the most northerly railway pier along the Halifax water front, was damaged by having a wooden shed so badly shaken by the force of the explosion that it collapsed in a heap. The substructure of this pier, so far as we have been able to carry our examination, has not been greatly damaged, but with the large amount of wreckage piled on it, we cannot be sure of its condition at the present writing. Pier 8, next down the water front, appears to have been destroyed from the water level up, although a portion of the old cribs below water may yet remain. The divers were too busy examining the substructure of more important piers farther down the harbor to permit of a complete examination below water to date. Pier 6, a wooden pile pier, without shed, was completely blown away, and no trace of it remains to mark the spot where it stood.

Richmond yard station, the car repair building, and cattle pens, were blown completely to atoms, while the switchman's shanties scattered throughout the year were so badly wreck as to be unfit for repair. The housing under the bottom of the tang tub was partly blown down and the feed pipe broken off. A piece of metal, supposedly from the Mont Blanc, was blown through a tub stave, emptying the tank.

North St. passenger station sustained very heavy damage. The front and back thirds of the train shed roof were blown up by the blast of the explosion, and then they collapsed and fell down inside the brick walls. Thirteen of the roof trusses in the centre of the shed, with the roof boarding, framing and dash on them, remained standing, but were later pulled down for safety. The glass was blown out of all the side windows, and the doors blown out of the casings, but being weighted and hung to the side walls, many could be operated after the explosion. In the head hour of the station, which is a solid brick structure, heavy damage was sustained. Downstairs all the doors, windows and fixtures were blown off, but the main partitions stood up under the force of the explosion, as did the brick walls. On the second floor, all doors and windows were blown off, and the plaster partitions bulged and broken. The damage to the third floor was practically the same as on the second floor, and a portion of the roof on the monitor was blown upward. Later, in the heavy storm of Dec. 9, this portion of the roof collapsed. The power plant and power house adjoining the station were damaged to the extent of broken pipe connections and a wrecked roof, all doors and windows being blown off as well.

The damage at Deepwater was heavy, but fortunately did not put the facilities entirely out of business. Still working in a southerly direction, or down the harbor, we come to pier 5, which was abandoned for shipping purposes last summer, and was given over for sanitary conveniences for troops. The latrines erected late in the autumn were demolished. Pier 4 is a wooden pile pier, with 2 outside tracks and a wood shed of the single deck type. Repairs were under way when the explosion occurred. The pier was unharmed, but the shed was completely wrecked. Pier 3 is a wooden pile pier, with single story wooden shed and 4 tracks, 2 outside and 2 inside the shed. The pier was not damaged; the roof trussed on the north half of the shed were all broken, and all the doors and windows blown off. The electric wiring fell down on to the floor. The south half of the shed frame is apparently in good condition. Old pier 2, an open wood pile pier with 2 tracks, was not damaged. New pier 2 is of reinforced concrete with double deck concrete shed; 4 tracks, 2 outside and 2 inside the shed. The shed and pier are practically undamaged. The doors were all blown off the north side of the pier, both upstairs and down, and over 70% of the glass was broken. South side was not so greatly damaged, although 8 of the large steel doors downstairs were completely blown off, and a number damaged. In the military hospital upstairs, the light wood partitions were badly damaged, and these in falling broke some of the radiators clear of the pipes, and carried down the temporary electric wiring which was fastened to them. The permanent electric wiring in iron conduit was practically undamaged.

[Capture under picture in middle of page]

North Street Station, Canadian Government Railways, Halifax, N.S, which was badly damaged by the explosion on Dec. 6.

North Street Station.

Reference: Archibald MacMechan Nova Scotia Archives MG 1 volume 2124 number 9

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