On The Rails of Northern British Columbia's History

 

Kenneth Scott Bateman - CNR Engineer

 

 










Ken Bateman of Smithers BC was an engineer for CNR for 25 years before he and Frank Watson died in a slide on November 2, 1978

The Trainwreck of 78 took the lives of Ken Bateman and Frank Watson in northern British Columbia

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News Reports Of The Storm & Train wreck of 1978

I have collected information, reports, and photos for over thirty years and I am not finished yet. I am giving credit to photographers, journalists, newspapers, and services when I am able to. However, in some cases I do not know who to credit. For any person who feels they deserve credit, please let me know at, hoghead@trainwreckof78.ca and you will receive full credit.

If you have information or photos about the storm, trainwreck, or something which happened to you during the Storm of 1978 in North Central British Columbia and want to contribute to this website, please let me know. You will receive full credit. While you are here, have a look at the photos, read the news, or come on over to Boo Graphics and see what Ken Bateman's son, who designed this site, does today.

If you have a link you want posted on this site please let me know at hoghead@trainwreckof78.ca.

NOTE: Click on the name of the paper icon to read more in the PDF file. Once you are reading the PDF file you do not need to come back to this page to read more since you can navigate with the Bookmarks Menu in the PDF file to read all reports if you wish to.

 

 

News reports of the storm and trainwreck of 1978 in North Central British Columbia

 

2 Feared Dead in Storm Wake - by Carol Volkart, Vancouver Express (Nov 3, 1978)

Furious wind and rain storms that blasted the Terrace-Kitimat area with 9 inches of rain in 48 hours have resulted in two suspected deaths, several injuries, numerous road closures and removal of a number of people from their homes. The storms began Tuesday and subsided Thursday. Two men were lost and presumed drowned after the Canadian National train they were in slid into the Skeena River. The railway roadbed had been eroded by an eddy in the swollen river. Two people injured in a motor vehicle accident were stranded overnight between washouts on Highway 16 west of Terrace. A helicopter from Stewart flew formula milk to Rosswood for a baby allergic to mother's milk, because rods were impassable, and another child in need of medical attention was flown out of Rosswood to Terrace.

 

 

 

 

Reports of the trainwreck and storm of 1978 by Vancouver Express Newspaper

Search for CN workers abandoned - by Brian Gregg, Terrace Herald The Daily News, Prince Rupert, BC, Friday, Nov 3, 1978

The search for two men who are missing and presumed dead after a CNR work train derailed three miles west of Usk at 3:30 am on Thursday has been abandoned. The two survivors of the mishap Terry Chupa and Fred Theriault, both of Smithers, were treated and later released from Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace. The train was travelling east to pick up some men and spread ballast and fill in several sections of the CNR line when the first engine apparently went off the tracks after the train had stopped at the washout.

 

 

The Terrace Herald reported the flood, storm, and tranwreck of 1978 in north central BC

Two Dead in Train Mishap - by Brian Gregg

Two men are missing and presumed dead after a CNR work train derailed three mile west of Usk at 3:30am on Thursday. Terry Chupa and Fred Theriault, both of Smithers, were treated and later released from Mills Memorial Hospital in Terrace. The train was travelling east to pick up some men and spread ballast and fill in several sections of the CNR line when the first engine apparently went off the tracks

 

 

The Terrace Herald reported the flood, storm, and tranwreck of 1978 in north central BC

Community Mourns Two -1978 Interior News

A joint funeral honoring the memories of two Smithers CNR employees was held at St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Wednesday, Nov 8. Francis William Watson and Kenneth Scott Bateman were killed as the result of a railway accident near Terrace on November 2 at the height of the recent flooding of the Skeena River.

 

 

Smithers Interior News has ben the newspaper in the Smithers and the Bulkley Valley for many years

Acknowledgement – The Interior News, Nov 1978

Dear Sir;

The many friends so generous in their expressions of concern and sympathy at the time of our loss have been a great comfort to us. We would like to gratefully acknowledge the beautiful flowers, cards, and donations in Ken's name to the Cancer Society.

 

 

Smithers Interior News has ben the newspaper in the Smithers and the Bulkley Valley for many years

Disaster area declared, homeowner compensation possible – The Interior News, Nov 1978

VICTORIA - The provincial cabinet Monday night declared all areas affected by last week's storm to be part of a disaster area, the teams of appraisers will begin to assess the damage soon in preparation for compensation to private owners whose property was damaged in the flood. Robert Neale, director of the Provincial Emergency Programme, said yesterday that the cabinet had, identified a disastrous set of circumstances." He said the identification would apply to "the entire area affected" by the flood. He said the process has started to examine "personal damage reports" with the possibility of those affected could receive compensation from the federal and provincial governments.

 

 

 

Smithers Interior News has ben the newspaper in the Smithers and the Bulkley Valley for many years

Disaster area slowly recovering - railway to open December 8 - Unknown journalist/publisher of news report

SMITHERS - Disaster areas in northern BC are slowly recovering from the battering of a sudden storm that struck the area during the first week of November. Heavy rain and melting snow swelled the rivers with rushing waters that ripped out a number of bridges and washed out highways, roads, gas and rail lines, leaving two men dead and many communities isolated.

 

 

 

Unknown source of report of the storm and trainwreck of 1978 in North Central British Columbia

Highway Damage in the Millions - Newsprinter and reporter unknown

"It is a lot worse than we thought and we estimate it will cost $15 million to bring this area back to previous standards," said Cyril Shelford, Skeena MLA, and Thursday. Shelford said that Highway 16 East will probably not be open for traffic until Wednesday, Nov 8. There are about 44 washouts between Terrace and Hazelton, Legate Creek Bridge, Chindemash Creek Bridge, and Little Oliver Creek Bridge are all washed out and another 8 culvert bridges are washed out, he said. Shelford said he flew over Lakelse Lake and the sight he saw was a "real shocker." He said dozens of houses are standing out in the lake in about six feet of water. First Ave. is flooded in several places. He estimated it would take about 10 days to bring Highway 25 between Terrace and Kitimat to previous standards..

 

 

 

Unknown source of report of the storm and trainwreck of 1978 in North Central British Columbia

Milk, food and gas coming - Reported News by unknown reporter and newspaper

Terrace-Kitimat residents were unable to buy milk late Saturday afternoon and early today but supplies were expected to be in the stores by early this afternoon. Bill Ingles, district manager for Dairyland, said some people panicked when they heard there was a milk shortage and bought more than they needed. A barge carrying 48,000 lbs of milk for Terrace and Kitimat was expected to arrive

 

 

Smithers Interior News has been the newspaper in Smithers for many years

Everyone Coped - Editorial comment - The Interior News, November 8, 1978

Roads and railways, pipelines and flooded basements can be repaired but lives cannot be replaced. It is ironic that, while Smithers and area, the most minor of damage from the storms of last week, it suffered the loss of three of its citizens, the only deaths recorded in the adversity. The community grieves the deaths of Cheryl May Halwas, who died from injuries suffered from a tree knocked down a week ago last Monday by high winds that presaged the storm; and the deaths of two long time community residents who were caught by the wrath of raging flood waters

 

 

Smithers Interior News has ben bringing the newspaper which bring the news to those in the Bulkley Valley

“Hopefully' CN line may be through by Dec. 1” - Nov 10,1978 - The Daily News, Prince Rupert, BC

Railway operations in this area are gradually returning to normal, according to John Kehoe, CN's trainmaster, who has just returned from Terrace where he has been for nine days, helping clean-up and repair operations. "We got most of our work done before the weather firmed up," he said, "and hope to commence normal operations on the Terrace-Kitimat run tomorrow. And hopefully - emphasize that 'hopefully' - the Terrace-Smithers section might be through by Dec 1

 

 

Prince Rupert Daily News which no longer exists brought up to date reports on the flood and trainwreck of 1978

Rail line out until early December. Grain, freight re-routed south - The Daily News Prince Rupert, BC, Nov 6, 1978

Grain and other freight originally bound for Prince Rupert have been diverted to Vancouver because of the extensive washouts on the CN line between Kitwanga and Kitimat. According to Alex Rennie, CN's public relations officer in Edmonton, Railroad company engineers travelled over the line by helicopter on Thursday and Friday to assess the damage and found 25 washouts in the 53 miles of track between Kitwanga and Kitselas.

 

 

Prince Rupert Daily News which no longer exists brought up to date reports on the flood and trainwreck of 1978

Crews scramble to make repairs A great hope that gas line repairs hold – Reporter and Publisher unknown

TELKWA PASS - Pacific Northern Gas crews are fighting today to restore natural gas flow to Kitimat, Terrace, and Prince Rupert, after a mudslide in the treacherous Telkwa Pass ruptured the 10 inch pipe and cut natural gas to the west last Wednesday. John Low, sales and service manager for PNG's Terrace district, said Monday that he was, optimistic," crew will have completed a temporary reconstruction by today.

 

 

 

Unknown source of report of the storm and trainwreck of 1978 in North Central British Columbia

Chapman Lake area devastated – The Interior News, Nov 1978

SMITHERS- Near hurricane force winds uprooted thousands of acres of prime spruce and pine timber around the Chapman Lake area during the height of the recent storm that caused over $30 million damage to the north central BC area. "More than 6000 acres are affected with more than 60 per cent uprooting," said deputy forest ranger, Ken Pratt.

 

 

Smithers Interior News has ben the newspaper in the Smithers and the Bulkley Valley for many years

Disaster aid likely for soaked Terrace area Rail men lost, roads cut in record downpour - The Daily News, Prince Rupert, Nov 1978

TERRACE (CP)- A severe fall storm which resulted in record rainfall in some areas of west-central BC caused extreme hardship for many residents as travel was restricted Thursday in most communities. Many roads were blocked by washouts and rail travel was disrupted in the wake of heavy rains and rising flood waters. Divers were forced to abandon their search for two Canadian National Railway crew members who were carried into the rain swollen Skeena River east of this city.

 

 

Prince Rupert Daily News which no longer exists brought up to date reports on the flood and trainwreck of 1978

Reconstruction may take year and half - Damage estimated pass $20 million RECOVERY SLOW FROM BATTERING – The Interior News, Nov 1978

TERRACE - One of the worst storms in northern BC history has left two Smithers men dead and caused more than $15 million damage to the area. Since early last Tuesday more than 260mm of rain has fallen on Terrace and the surrounding area from Prince Rupert on the coast to as far east as Smithers. Two Smithers CN workers perished when the work train they were on was swept into the Skeena.

 

 

Smithers Interior News brought up to date reports of the flood and the trainwreck of 1978

CNR line opens ahead of schedule - Interior News, Dec 1978

SMITHERS-On Sunday, December 3, at exactly 6:55 pm the first test train left Smithers station travelling west to Terrace. The train was the first to go through in over a month, since the heavy storm and flooding devastated the north-central BC

 

 

Interior News of Smithers BC has been reporting the news in Smither for many years

Work Progressing, roads opening - unknown newspaper and reporter

Work is progressing on the reconstruction of Highway 16 East and the Department of Highways expects it will be open for traffic late Friday afternoon, said Neville Hope, regional maintenance operations manager. The Chindemash Creek Bailey bridge was completed on Wednesday and men and equipment moved east to Legate Creek

 

 

Unknown source of report of the storm and trainwreck of 1978 in North Central British Columbia

CN Scholarship Awarded - Source unknown

SMITHERS, BC - The first annual Bateman-Watson scholarship was awarded by CN to Minh Truong, a graduate of Smithers Senior Secondary School. The $500 scholarship was instituted last year in recognition of the 60th anniversary of the incorporation of the Town of Smithers and the important role Smithers has played, and will play, in railway development in northern BC The scholarship is named in honour of Kenneth Scott Bateman and Francis William Watson

 

 

Unknown source of report of the storm and trainwreck of 1978 in North Central British Columbia

 

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