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How Revenge Can Misfire
The Box Mill Train Wreck Story

At the time this story took place almost half a century ago, Laurie Isenor and Sons was a second-generation family business in our community that manufactured products like pallets and boxes. Although many of you might remember this mill, the story you are about to read will probably be news to you.

The story was given to us by a prominent citizen in our community, who asked to remain anonymous due to certain revelations in the story—namely, his own light-fingered pilfering when faced with great temptation—even though most of us would probably have done the same thing! Therefore, for the purposes of this story we shall call our ‘informant’ Joe. 

Almost half-a-century ago, the mill used a train switch to enable trains travelling from Halifax to Truro to turn onto the rail siding that led to the Box Mill, where they loaded up blueberry and fish boxes for transport.


“I was 18 years old and working in the mill,” said Joe. One night I was taking my girlfriend home and we saw a train off the tracks right by the mill. The Engine car was off, and 5 or 6 more cars. I dropped my girlfriend at home and returned to pick up my brother and we went back to the train wreck. It looked like nobody was hurt and there was no sign of the train workers, just a bunch of people we knew investigating the contents of the cars.  

So Joe and his brother started ‘investigating’ too, lugging away cases of cigarettes, typewriters, T.V.s and other loot (I told you that this might be a story you haven’t heard).

“Eight of us were hooked onto a bolt of carpet and were dragging it away when the CN Police arrived,” said Joe. “Of course we were only taking the stuff to make sure it didn’t burn in a fire or anything.”

It’s fantastic to live in a place with such good, altruistic people, isn’t it? Such forward-thinking! Of course there wasn’t actually a fire, but…there might have been! It’s just a shame that Joe didn’t find the car full of alcohol before the police got there, because that would have totally exploded in the fire.

“We were handing out stuff for weeks like we were Gods,” chuckled Joe. “Boxes of cigarettes—not cartons, but whole boxes. We were some popular for about two weeks.”

 So how did our local residents enjoy an influx of stolen goods saved from a fire in 1974? How could a CN train be re-routed down a siding when it wasn’t supposed to be? The train engineer hadn’t expected to be re-routed from the main rail to Truro, down a siding leading to the mill, but the switch had been flipped. The train would have been going far too fast, and that’s why it shot off the rails. Who flipped the switch to re-route the train? How did this happen?

Nobody is certain, but Joe has a theory. “I’m pretty sure that an unhappy, fired employee threw that switch. An employee had been terminated a couple of weeks earlier and he was pretty mad. I bet he flipped that switch out of spite.”

Sometimes revenge is sweet; sometimes not so much. Granting the community many gifts and more joy probably wasn’t the outcome our avenger had envisioned. Worse, he created heroes when he wanted to create harm. Don’t forget that Joe heroically saved all that free loot from a fire!

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