Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 24 > Page 5 - When the Employees Owned the Trams

Page 5 - When the Employees Owned the Trams

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1979/12/1 (359 reads)

Left, the plow in the "Chief's Cut," 1922; above: "That was the old freight car. Carried freight and nothing else between Sydney and Glace Bay. Carried what trucks are carrying today • meat and fish and flour and vegeta? bles. Made two trips a day, sup? plying all the stores. The mail went by the passenger cars." (You talk of fixing. Weren't you dealing with a lot of electricity?) 550 volts. (That's a lot.) Is it ever, if it gets a hold of you. fifeny's the one that got a jolt off it, but nobody ever got really hurt. One of the worst things was the o- verhead wires would break sometimes and when it came down it would touch the rails and you could see arcs and daylight a half a mile. But if it grounded solid, the switches in the powerhouse would go out • just like a ground on any electric equip? ment. Then you had to go out and pick that wire up, get it off the ground. That's where you were playing with fire. Conduc? tor and motorman did it • and when we were on the one-man cars, you did it all alone. If you were lucky enough, you might get somebody on the car that would go with you • but usually you didn't bother, you didn't want anyone else to get burnt. We had what we called "pick-ups" • like pliers, but with wooden handles about three feet long. They were kept in the car under one of the seats that was always dry. You could pick the wire off the ground with those. With two fellows it wasn't too bad, because really there was two ends of wire you had to pick up. Then you had a tackle- block you hooked onto clamps you put on the wires • and you pulled them together till you pulled the wire up clear, so that you could run under it until they got out to really fix it. I got kicked by it one night • and I was all alone too • out where the airport is today. Overhead came down in front of us. Of course, you can always tell when it drops • flashes and everything. It was at night, in the dark • but there was enough daylight in the sky to see where you are, what you're doing. Took the pick-up and I went out and I could see where it was off the poles and where it was lying--but there was a lot of tall grass there. I was feeling around, seeing if I could find the wire • and it was night and there was a heavy dew • the grass was wet. The handles of the pick-up got wet. Gee, when I struck that wire, it threw me as far as from here to that window. Flat on my back. But I got up, picked it more carefully. I knew where it was then. Got another pair • a dry pair of pick-ups • put the clamp on each wire. Put the tackleblock on. Pulled that up and tied it to a wire. They put the power on and you could run on. (Were there other kinds of trouble on the line?) Oh yes. Accidents. People were struck. There were some killed. Walking on the tracks, laying on the tracks. It didn't happen so much in my day, but be? fore my time, in the old cars they had very poor headlights. Had a little carbon light. And I think most of the cases hap? pened at night. The track was a favourite place to walk in them days. There was no paved roads, no sidewalks that time. So the tram tracks were as good as any place to walk. They hit some cows and horses roaming along the tram line on the out? skirts of town. (How fast could you stop?) Depended on the BRIAND'S CAB visit Cape Breton Toms see. the beautiful UBOT TRAIL 564-6161 664-6162 " in working of wood to make products of every kind Meadow Wood is: * Home furnishings * Doors and windows * Furniture repairs Lawrence Mikol North River Bridge Cape Breton Island (902) 929-2471
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