Page 6 - When the Employees Owned the Trams
ISSUE : Issue 24
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1979/12/1
Jumped the track at Cadegan's "Brook, Bridgeport, 1931; right, Saiety Car 51 show? ing damage done in collision with CN.R.Express at Lorway Crossing (George Street), on the evening of December 25, 1920. It was called a safety car because It was rigged to stop if driver fainted or fell asleep. weather, the condition of the rails, your brakes. Of course in the case of an emer? gency, you could throw the car in reverse • but if the rail was wet...there were so many degrees of wetness. Now heavy rain that cleaned off the rail • well, your rail was good then, good braking power on the rail then. And when it was dry, naturally it was good. But a little mist or a heavy fog was just like as if you oiled it_-no braking power at all. But they had sanders on them--if you could get the sander to work • but this takes time. You had to re? verse the car and then get up and operate the sander with your foot, and before it would grip, you would travel a couple of car lengths. But dry or after a heavy rain and you just what we called "plugged her" • stick her a notch or two in reverse • she'd stop in a short distance, probably a car length. Ice was bad. In case of slush or heavy rains, the trackmen took care of that. At that time there were drains all along the street. There was no curb then. It was up to the trackmen to keep those drains open and get all the water off the tracks as was possible, in case it did freeze. But they did get caught. One time it took two weeks before they got all the ice chopped off all the way around. They cleared Glace Bay to Sydney in a few days. There was quite a bit of snow, and then it rained and rained • the drains wouldn't take the water. Then the water froze and bulged up and practically the whole track was cov? ered, some places with 6 inches of ice. You couldn't run on an inch even. Your wheel only has a flange of about 3/4 of an inch. Any ice that takes you higher than that, you could run off the track. And the wheel had to be on the track to get con? nection, to get power. People used to use the tracks in the win? ter for their horse and sleighs. Lots of places they'd have a job getting off, the snow would be piled up so high • you'd meet somebody and you'd have a job to get them off the track. Back up to where there was an opening shovelled or work the horse up over. It was a common thing. Usually they'd hear the car coming and get off • but wind blowing and cap down over his ears, he'd look up and the car was coming right in front of him. There was a bad accident at Bridgeport be? fore I came on. From New Aberdeen to Bridgeport there's a long stretch of straight road • at that time it was clear road straight through. So that used to be quite a speedway to make up time. And when you got to Bridgeport there was a sharp, square turn over to Bridgeport Station. Those times there were no streetlights, perhaps one at every corner or something-- and there used to be one at this corner. There was a store there. The motorman's excuse was the light was out this night and he didn't realize he was near the curve, and he struck the curve wide open. And the tram came right off the trucks and leaned over into a field • and the trucks kept on up the track right on to Bridge? port Station. The whole body landed over in the field. One fellow was injured by, I think, pickets in a fence • he died. Then they had one at what we called South? west Brook, where the golf link"fe are today. An empty passenger car and a freight car met head on. Motorman died from that. That shouldn't have happened. People are human. It was a kind of a loose system in a way. There were three crossings between Reserve and Sydney, where cars could cross. So the freight car, when they finished their work at Glace Bay, stopped at Reserve and called Sydney and asked if the car had left from Sydney. And the fellow said, yes, the car just went by the barn. Well, that would mean they had fifteen minutes anyway to this Grand lake crossing. The fellows at Reserve thought they had plenty of time to make that crossing • it would only take them 10 or 12 minutes. So they took off full lick. But when the thing was thrashed out later, the car had actually left soon? er than they thought. If they had got a- round the curve, they would have seen him
Cape Breton's Magazine