Buried Treasure in a Swamp!
Recalling an old conversation I had with a wonderful
old Conductor named 'Clare Johnson' while stopped at the south switch
at Mactier shortly after I hired on the CPR as a trainman in May 1951.
The story went as follows:
Shortly after the line was constructed to Mactier, there was a derailment
at the south mile board when the track unexpectedly gave way. One
of the overturned box cars contained bottles of whiskey. He related
how the clean up crew had 'borrowed' quite a nmber of unbroken bottles
and buried them in the bush adjacent to the track. He commented that
lots of them would still be there almost 40 years later. So I would
suggest that they are still there some 100 years later.
It was after the derailment that the CPR decided to add more ballast.
Clare told me that the muskeg just kept spreading out and upward on
both sides like you had stepped into a fresh cow flap. So they just
kept on dumping trainload after
trainload until they finally hit bedrock which was a long way down.
If you were to walk down the track from the overpass south of Mactier
and around the curve to the right about 100 or 200 yards distant,
you would immediately see the several hundred yard long 'very noticeable
depression' in the roadbed to this day.
On another note, I only found out after Clare died that he had been
awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) in WW1. He had carried
a wounded comrade (under fire) from the front lines. He was only 15
years old at the time. His
obituary stated all this in a special write up in the Toronto Star
at the time. Wonderful guy to work with. He still owed me $5.00 I
lent him to buy 4 bags of potatoes from a farmer at Craighurst while
working the Mactier wayfreight. But I
immediately wrote that debt off after I read the Obit.