Patrons of the Roi Theatre will be in for a story of a dramatic train crash in the old wild west frontier – except in this case the wild frontier was B.C.’s northwest and the train crash was a very real event that took place in the 1940s.
The Bulkley Valley Museum has added a new stop to their culture crawl with an exhibit on a fatal train crash which claimed four lives, two of whom were CN Rail employees from Smithers.
The other two killed are said to be drifters who hopped on the train from Hazelton. Curating this exhibit is Nicole Oud.
“This is all about a train crash in the 1940s that occurred just northeast of Pacific [Station],” said Oud. Pacific Station only exists in memory now but was located about halfway between Terrace and Hazelton.
Everything went wrong when an extremely high spring runoff wiped away a bridge on the rail line.
The two CN employees killed were John Carpenter, engineer, and Sylva Mayer, a fireman.
The exhibit was made possible thanks to the efforts of Philip Jones. It was Philip’s father who took a series of photographs of the accident; his dad was a conductor with CN.
“Philip Jones brought in a number of photographs that his father had taken of the incident and he was able to bring them in and digitize them for us,” said Oud.
There were several reasons for the exhibit to make its way to the Roi lobby. Oud said aside from the notable fact that the museum and the theatre are two major cultural centres in Smithers, Art Bucanan, theatre owner, is a retired CN employee.
Art said that he even knew the man who died, John Carpenter. He was the father of Della Herman, school principal and of course the Della Herman Theatre’s namesake.
He said he was well aware of this train story working for the railroad.
“I think this is a really nice deal,” he said of being able to host the exhibit.
This is the first time the photos have been publicly displayed.