Clyde W. Scott
I'm Mark Scott, son of Clyde W. Scott (retired) conductor with the Burlington Northern Railroad in Seattle (Interbay) Washington. During my fathers 30 year career with the railroad, there were plenty of opportunities to see what happens when things go wrong on both passenger and freight trains. In fact being a good railroad guy that dad was; always carrying a camera with him, has allowed me the opportunity to see some of these things for myself and to share them with you.
I'm convinced that working for the railroad remains among the most satisfying, but dangerous occupations there is, especially here in the Pacific Northwest where all trains must operate on rugged, steep and often unstable terrain. And it's within this terrain where trouble often begins. It works essentially something like this, vibrations radiate outward from a passing train. When the vibration gets too strong it will initiate a landslide which can then either send the hillslope with the train flying off the side of the mountain into an adjacent steep valley, or the landslide and train both get launched off into the water.
Over the years my father tremendously enjoyed his job, working on the railroad, he collected many fond memories and although he's no longer with us ~ dead as a result of a train wreck, his memory lives on and now with the capacity of this electronic media, I am able to place these photographs on the internet. In part a devotion to the memory of C.W. Scott, where they can be enjoyed by everyone, as he would have wanted it to be and in part because I like these train wreck pictures and think you will to.
I've included a brief description with each picture. Although, I'm certain dad would have liked to personally take the time to tell each of you about these pictures in his own colorful way, but unfortunately you'll have to settle for my interpretation. Dad would wish to express to you that the photographs of train wrecks presented here are entirely done so without his knowledge, approva, technical ability, forsight or consent. Therefore, you should feel free to get yourself a copy while you still can, but please remember to keep the memory of this railroad man alive.
Also, it should be mentioned that these photos represent only a small fraction of the greater collection of "C.W. Scott Railroad Pictures" The contents presented here are simply grouped according to the decade in which the train accident ocurred. It can be assumed that these pictures were taken inside the State of Washington and contain images of Great Northern and Burlington Northern Railroad equipment and personnel. We will assume no liability or responcability of any kind for the contents herin.
The best railroad stories involve silly mishaps where nobody got hurt. You know the kind, the foot slipped off the petal, or everyone was asleep when we rolled past the red block signal, or we tore-up 7 miles of track inside the 8 mile long tunnel? One of my favorite railroad stories happened at the Burlington Northern crossing located adjacent to the Washington State Ferry terminal at Edmonds, Washington. This is one of the most dangerous places in town due to the fact that the Burlington Northern main line intesects the line of traffic waiting to get on the ferry to cross the Puget Sound. Every day trains travelling at 50-60 mph traverse this crossing. There is very little warning, its a situation where all of a sudden the crossing gate lights up, it drops and the next thing you know the 'high ball' rolls quickly past. On occasion there is unfortunately, trapped and motionless ferry traffic waiting on the main line as the train approaches.
One day dad was the conductor bringing a train into Seattle when a message came over the radio, Scotty there's a tanker truck blocking the crossing. Knowing full well it was too late and there was nothing the train crew could do, dad's train blasted through the crossing, hit the tank truck, which burst open like a 15,000 gallon balloon full of hot tar. The next message on the radio mentioned the truck had been hit. A few minutes passed until the caboose arrived at the ferry crossing. Dad said everything at the intersection was was black, the tar was everywhere and covered everything.
My least favorite railroad story is the one where my dad got into a major train wreck of his own. One morning in 1983 along the shores of the Puget Sound, on the route between Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle, a boulder the size of a car popped out from the hillside. The final resting place, right between the rails of the Burlington Northern main line. The approaching freight train, dad's train were unaware of the situation, it was dark, they were travelling fast and there was no apparent warning as they rounded the corner and hit the boulder. The impact was strong enough to send the entire head end, 'into the drink' as dad put it. The three lead units were swept off the hillside into the water of the Puget Sound. Photos of the damage can bee seen in C.W. Scott's 1983 train wreck pictures.
Since dad was riding in the caboose, the first indication anything was wrong was when he heard the sound of the trains air brake system loosing air. This means that the train is going to stop. Dad prepared to grab something solid, but then the train stopped instantly, throwing him across the caboose into a steel wall. Dad's back was instantly broken in 3 places, he suffered from several broken ribs but still managed to get off the train safely.
After the wreck and in the hospital for 3 months of recovery, it was discovered that dad had developed a kind of bone cancer in the fractures of his broken back. It was determined later that this bone cancer was triggered by injuries attributed to the train wreck. His final diagnosis was a type of cancer called Multiple Myeloma, a horrible and fatal disease in which the average patient has only 6 years to live.
Dad began cancer treatment immediately, there were a series of operations, and in 1983, the technology to treat this was seemingly advanced. In Seattle at the University of Washington Medical Center dad recieved several surgeries, followed by both radiation therepy and chemo-therepy. Dad had both good days and bad days as he was on a ride he did not want to be on. A year passed and it looked like the cancer was securely in remission enough to where dad could return to duty on the railroad. It seems like if dad had a choice, he would choose going back to the kind of lifestyle on the railroad, the lifestyle he enjoyed the most.
At the time, dad was experiencing various degrees of
pain. I learned just exactly how tough or stubborn the old man really was as
a reult of his experience with cancer. After my senior year of highschool, I
moved to Seattle on more than one occasion to look after dad. Inevitably after
ten years, the cancer got the best of him and on January 27th 1993, dad threw
in the towel and died.