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2011 Disaster Hits The IPP&W Railway

April 28, Ottawa, Canada – Yesterday while Railway President Fred Mills and Roadmaster Gord Bellamy were inspecting the re-construction of Bell, winds gusting to 60 MPH sent a 70 foot spruce tree in Nelson Yard crashing to the ground behind them.


Fortunately the tree fell between the President’s home and the IPP&W Shops causing only minor damage to eavestrough. The crew lounge and its BBQs also managed to escape being crushed.


The railway mainline is now blocked at Mercer Siding between Bellamy and Peter’s Pond, and between Lily and Glen Hammond. The east yard entrance for Nelson Yard is also blocked.

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The blockhouse just east of the wooden trestle and the 1:1 scale switchstand hidden in the lower braches appear to be undamaged. Unfortunately the 1:1 scale crossing signal was knocked flat. Hopefully only the post is broken at the base and the signal will be repairable albeit a little shorter.

With this new damage and the lifted track work at Bell, the Western Division of the IPP&W Railway is out of service until repairs can be made.


May 4, Ottawa, Canada – The fallen tree has been stripped of it limbs. Now that the trunk is bare, the damage to the railway can be better assessed.


The top of the tree landed on the small shed on the outside wall of the IPP&W Shops and damaged its roof. That tiny roof and the root ball stopped the tree from crashing right to the ground and saved some of the track.


The switch stand at Mercer is still standing. The track and switch, although cover with debris, appear undamaged.


Across the aisle, the large switch stand was missed by mere inches. To the right of the switchstand the mainline (number 6) switch was undamaged and removed to a safe place while the tree was being dismembered. Behind the switchstand, the switch and track to Lily and the Blue Mountain Mine also escaped damage.


The crossing signal was not so lucky. Fortunately the screws in the wooden base let go, so the signal remained in one piece. Some of the lights are askew, but except for some bent disks, they all appear to be undamaged. We should be able to pound them flat and repaint them. That will spoil its rusty patina however and reduce its antique value.


On the other side of the trunk just up from the yard limit sign, a broken branch pierced the eastern lead to Nelson Yard. It appears to have helped suspend the trunk and saved the remaining three tracks from being crushed. All three tracks around the yard limit sign however, have been swept askew by falling branches.


The retaining wall at Nelson Yard has been ripped out of the ground by the root ball. We now know the entire yard was lifted and dropped.


The mainline track to Glen Hammond, the east lead of Nelson Yard, and the deck plates of the bridges were pulled apart during the upheaval and will have to be re-aligned.


The crater had swallowed the deck block and patio stone that this leg sat on.


Along the length of the Nelson Yard the legs were torn out of their deck blocks and remain suspended.

The debris from the root ball toppled the Yardmaster’s chair and buried one end of the Garden Metal Model’s girder bridge that carries the mainline up the hill to Lily. The metal girders appear to have held, but some of the plastic deck plates and railing stations will have to be replaced. The main line track although blocked with debris was not crushed by the falling tree.

Although persistent rain and cold weather has slowed the removal of the tree, the contractor intends to remove sections of the root ball and trunk with a crane. Once the tree is removed and the weather improves, repairs to the railway will commence.

It is expected that repairs may take up to a month, but flyby plans are already being considered so that the opening of the operating season will not be delayed while Nelson Yard is being re-built.

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