Posts tagged #locomotive fireman

William Joseph Phillips

Dates: b. 1890 d. 3 July 1918

Cemetery location: Block C, Row 8, Plot 25


On 3 July 1918, CPR locomotive fireman William Joseph Phillips was working on Engine 5759 at Revelstoke. The engine was one of the newest in the division, and was being used to supply steam to the stationary boilers while they were being changed from oil to coal burners.  The gauge glass on the engine was not registering correctly, and without being aware of it, there was a shortage of water in the boiler.  Because of this, the boiler exploded, killing Phillips and causing damage in the CPR yard. 

The newspaper accounts reported:

“The impact of the explosion was tremendous.  The whole upper structure of the locomotive was lifted high in the air, landing about 100 feet in a westerly direction, turning a complete somersault and becoming entirely reversed. The fall of the huge bulk was so great as to bury itself partially into the roadbed, smashing through rails and ties. The drive wheels of the locomotive and the tender remained on the rails. The cab of the locomotive, in which the unfortunate fireman was at the time of the accident, was blown over 200 feet in a north-easterly direction, embedding itself into the side of a building use for stores. The body of the dead man was found about 75 feet distant, wedged under the drive wheels of a locomotive on an adjacent track.”

Nearby houses were hit by the debris from the engine, and several windows were broken. The roof and windows of the back shops were damaged. 

Joseph Phillips was 28 years old and married to Lottie Lee, whose father and brother both died during World War I. They had a young child at the time of Phillips’s death. Phillips had been in the employ of the CPR for about eight years.