Johnny Donaldson tells me that the famous phantom train, which traveled the tracks of the old Gosford and Quebec-Lake St. John railroads in the early days began its ghostly journeying after Jack Murphy of Pine River was killed by a train near Scott’s Corner – near where the candy shop is located today. He was a brother of Tom Murphy, Ivan Murphy’s grandfather.1It seems, at that time, there was no access road to Val St. Michel from St. Catherine’s and. in order to go to Loretteville, local people were forced to drive into Valcartier for over a mile–as far as George Thompson’s place, Johnny said. and there take the road between the 1st and 2nd concessions to Val St. Michel. Consequently in the wintertime, so as to save the extra mile traveling, some residents here would use the railway track as a shortcut, getting onto it at the fourth range crossing and. when returning home, taking it at the Val St. Michel crossing.
This dangerous shortcut proved fatal to Jack Murphy on the night of December 16, 1900, when, traveling homeward from Lorette. he turned his horse onto the track in Val St. Miohel. He had reached a point in the vicinity of Scot’s Corner and was within minutes of leaving the track when his horse stumbled into something that Johnny called “a cattle crossing”–apparently a kind of narrow passageway beneath the rails which permitted cattle to be moved back and forth–and was trapped. unable to extricate the animal himself and knowing that the train was due shortly, poor Jack ran back along the railroad in the direction of Val St. Michel hoping that he would somehow be able to flag down the train and save the trapped beast. However. somewhere between the candy shop and the Valcartier Industries plant he met the train, and attempting to board it as it passed fell under it and was killed. He was 32 years of age and had been married only the previous year to Elizabeth Theberge.
With regard to the phantom train Johnny said that one winter’s night his father, Tom Donaldson, and his uncle, Ned Landers were on their way home from Lorette by way of the railway shortcut, when they heard a train blowing in Val St. Michel. They got off the track and stood holding the horse by its head until the train would pass. They saw the headlight and the dark mass of the engine looming in the night, heard the rumble of the rails and, just as it seemed about to pass them; suddenly: there was nothing.
Told to J. A. Griffin by Johnny Donaldson
This may be a related story: From the Quebec Saturday Budget, November 9, 1889