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EXPLORING BEAVER HABITAT WITH GOOGLE EARTH:

COLLAPSE OF BEAVERDAMS BLAMED FOR TRAIN DERAILMENT AND FUEL SPILL IN THE OTTAWA RIVER

 

In the early morning of June 3, 2009, (3 a.m.) a freight train derailed about 16 kilometers east of Mattawa, close to the (in the 1930s -40s) vanished lumber village of Klock. The derailment included two locomotives and six empty rail cars used to haul lumber. About 15,000 liters of fuel was spilled in the Ottawa river. One car was in the river. (Canadian Press CBC News)

The Ottawa Valley Railway train went of the tracks around 3.10 a.m. when it ran into 180 meters of washed out tracks on an embankment just besides the Ottawa River. The OVR is a short-line railroad with 550 km of track between Coniston and Smiths Falls with CP interchanges at Sudbury and Smith Falls.

The destructions of three successive beaver dams was blamed for the wash out of the rail embankment. The collapse of the dams apparently released a wall of floodwater up to 12 feet (3.7 meters) high over part of the tracks.

“The washout is believed to have resulted from flooding that began when three up-river beaver dams were destroyed,” Michelle King, a railway spokeswoman who works for Burdette Ketchum, said in an e-mailed statement. “They’ve been having a lot of rain and snow recently,” she said. One burst beaver dam led to a second washing out, and then a third, she said (Todd Zeranski)

Both crew members of the train had minor injuries in the derailment, which remains under investigation. The diesel spilled from the train’s engines, which were flipped onto their sides, Kate Jordan, a spokeswoman at the Ontario Ministry of Environment in Toronto, said.

JENNIFER HAMILTON-McCHARLES, THE NUGGET: By the time Jim Fournier saw the missing train track it was too late. There was nothing he could do but hold on and brace for impact.
The engineer with the Ottawa Valley Railway was on board a 29-car train when it derailed near Mattawa Wednesday morning spilling 20,000 liters of diesel fuel into the Ottawa River. It's like we hit a wall. We stopped dead just like that," Fournier said Wednesday evening. It was more wild than any ride at Canada's Wonderland." Fournier was heading west to North Bay from Petawawa when he saw that a section of track was missing.
I saw it at the last minute, this dead spot, a great big hole where there was no track," Fournier said.
"There was no time to react, we just held on. It happened so quickly. We were just holding on and hoping to not fly out of the window."
Fournier, who was visibly shaken recalling the derailment Wednesday evening, said he draws a blank when he tries to remember the time between impact and when the crew started climbing out of the locomotive.
In no time the train was on its side and we were in this six-foot hole of mud and water," he said.
We knew the engine was on its side, but we were in shock. We had no choice but to climb 12 feet to get out of the conductor's window.

Figure 1. Google Earth low resolution image (2003) showing area of railway track wash out causing the derailment. A number of beaver danm controlled lakes and wetlands can be seen on the higher ground to the left.

Figure 2. A collage of images of the derailment area provided by various news paper articles, in particular the local news paper the North Bay Nugget and some from the CBC.

 

Figure 3: Topographic Map of the Derailment Area. The red oval indicates the approximate wash out area. The dotted red line the water flow

Figure 4: 1989 Aerial Photograph of the derailment area. (National Air photo Library Collection, NAPL Ottawa. The blue arrow points to the wash out area. The dotted red oval shows the location of the in the 1930-40s abandoned lumber village of Klock.

 

Figure 5. Year 2000 NASA Landsat imagery (World Wind source) below.