Duncan du Fresne wrote a two-part article in the January and February 1997 issues of Branchline about the Canadian Pacific Railway's D10 class 4-6-0 engines, those handsome, yet powerful little ten-wheelers that were the SD40 of their day. All 502 of them, built between 1905 and 1913.
That article stuck in my mind for some reason, so one night a while ago I managed to get all the items in the "honey do" list cleared off and decided to see what else could be learned about those famous little "engines that could".
Using Omer Lavallee's "Canadian Pacific Steam Locomotives" as a guide, it shows that the engines of class D10 must have been favoured with both excellent handling by their crews, and remarkable good luck, as they existed for many years. Scrappings of the engines began in March 1938 with numbers 677 and 709, and continued through the 1940s and 1950s, with the last one (No. 975) going under the torch in June 1965. It would appear that all of the 502 locomotives put in at least 30 years of work, with some of them going 40 years or more. The one exception was the 951. It, unfortunately, came to a sudden end on 27 Nov 1927 at Dockrill Siding, Ontario, 56 miles west of Smiths Falls, when it hit heavy Pacific 2329 head on. So ended its rather brief life at 16 years.
Still for 501 engines to survive as long as they did speaks volumes about the qualities of the design, the maintenance, and the operation of the engines by their crews. What class of diesel unit with 500 members has existed for 25 years with only one unit lost.
Further scanning of the lists of the D10 class in Omer's hook, however, turned up a mystery, a missing D10! In the grouping of Series III, D10b engines produced by Montreal Locomotive Works in 1906 (Numbers 685-699 and 750-759) there is no 694. CPR skipped a number just for the fun of it? Hardly! Omer missed a number in his compilations of CPR's engines? I doubt it!
Now into some serious scanning it didn't take long to find the listing for the 694. There it was, back in the Series II numbering system, and with its entry, that ominous "X", for July 1910. Now the mystery is shared with amazement. The penurious CPR brass scrapped an engine that was only four years old? (694 was built in February 1906). Strange. Really mysterious. Something extremely dire must have happened to the 694 to warrant it suffering such a fate at such a young age. But what? Where?
Detective work... Omer doesn't provide locomotive assignment sheets for the years 1906-1910, but does show a system assignment schedule for January 1916. Naturally 694 is absent, but 685-693, 695-699, and 750-759 are shown as being at Winnipeg or east. Thus, it is safe to assume that the 694 was not west of Winnipeg.
Omer's book could not provide any further details, so it's time to start asking people who might have such information. Art Clowes in New Brunswick proved to be just the person. After months of digging in newspaper files by both of us, Art finally located a small item in the Moncton, New Brunswick, Daily Transcript files that provided us with most of the answers to the mystery. The Fort William Daily Times Journal files filled in the rest of the sad story of the 694.
Extra 694 left Schreiber, Ontario, in the late evening of Thursday, 9 Jun 1910, heading east with a short freight. At approximately 04:00 about one mile west of Mink Tunnel, while travelling at about 35 mph, it struck a large boulder that had fallen onto the track, and derailed. At this point, the CPR main line is skirting the shore of Lake Superior, about 60 feet above the water's surface. A high rocky bluff is on the opposite side of the tracks. After striking the rock, the 694 and a few of the cars at the head end of the train fell into the lake. At this point the lake drops quickly to a depth of about 250 feet. The engineer, F. Wheatly, drowned in the accident, his body was recovered for burial. The head end brakeman, J. McMillan, jumped from the engine moments before the collision, but was killed when he slammed into the fallen rock. The fireman, E. Clark, went down with the engine.
So the mystery of the 694 is solved, it did indeed suffer a terrible fate at only four years of age. The next obvious question, did CPR raise the engine?
A recent study of the files of the Fort William Daily Times Journal from 10 Jun 1910 to 31 Aug 1910, contains no information that the engine was raised, or that CPR entertained any thoughts about raising the engine. As railway items were big news in the papers of the day, certainly any news of that scope would have appeared since it was a local story. In the 20 Jul 1910, edition, an item appears telling that the Schreiber Oddfellows Group, of which E. Clark was apparently a member, chartered a boat and travelled along the shoreline to the scene of the accident to conduct a "burial-at-sea" in his memory. The news item states that it is believed that his body was buried beneath the locomotive on the lake bottom. Whether this was proven by deep sea divers is unknown.
Since CPR struck the 694 off the roster in July 1910, unless someone has information to the contrary, it can be assumed that the engine was never reclaimed. To Duncan's list of the seven D10 engines in existence today can be added the 694 lying at the bottom of Lake Superior, one mile west of Mink Tunnel.
The mystery of the missing D10 seems to be solved. Of the 502 engines of Class D10, 500 of them provided 30 + years of service, one succumbed after 16 years, and one, the lost one, didn't make it to its first major overhaul.
Maybe somewhere in the pages of "Canadian Pacific Steam Locomotives" lurks another mystery waiting to be solved?