The tale of the Phantom Train was around for quite some time... Many believed that a train would make mysterious apparitions along the Quebec-Lake St-John railway. Reports of strange whistling noises and bright beaming lights in the distance would encourage people to believe in the tale. However, whenever one got too close, the train would suddenly disappear. Weird or what?
The Quebec Saturday Budget Nov 9 1889
DEATH OF JACK MURPHY AND THE PHANTOM TRAIN Source: Patricia Balkcom website
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.
It 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 lst 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.
A little background information about the bridge according to Bernie Monaghan taken from Patricia Balkcom's website:
THE RED BRIDGE. This Bridge got its name because after it's construction it was painted red and remained so for about twenty years. then it was painted gray. It spanned the Jacques Cartier River, not far from Al Corrigan’s. It was a covered wooden bridge. The residents of that area deserve a lot of credit for the erection of that bridge. They cut and hauled the logs themselves. The Provincial Government permitted them to cut the logs on some of the Government lots in the area. Jack Price contributed the sum of $lOOO.00 towards the cutting of the logs. The logs were piled on Al Corrigan's property. This was done during the winter of 1929-30. Al Corrigan built a saw-mill around that time to saw logs. this eliminated the task of hauling the logs to Lepire's mill in Valcartier Village, a distance of about six miles. Mr. Corrigan's mill was subsequently taken over by his son and was in operation until his son Gerald's death in 195h.
There is no record of the construction of this bridge in the Municipal books of St. Gabriel West. It seems to have been a grant from the Provincial Government secured by Ephrim Bedard, M. L. A. for the County of Quebec at the time. The only mention of the bridge in the municipal books at that time was a motion from which I quote:
NOVEMBER 2, 1931. Excerpt from a general session of the Municipality of St. Gabriel West. Moved by W.Smith, seconded by Edmund Corrigan, that this Council authorize Edmund Corrigan to get a sign for the new bridge at Albert Corrigan's with the member's name Ephram Bedard engraved on it, and have it placed on the end of said bridge . Passed unanimously. James Clark, Secretary-Treasurer.
The cost of building the bridge was: $8,500.00
The bridge burnt down in the summer of 1972. It is widely believed that the destruction of the bridge was the act of a criminal hand. A modern concrete and steel bridge now spans the river at the same location. It was built by the Provincial Government in 1975.
Apparently, Redmond Bridge was quite the social hub as well. I've heard stories from many people in the village about how they used to purposely block the bridge off with their cars so that they could have drinks and socialize on the bridge. When tourists would drive up to the bridge, locals would just lie and say that one of the cars ahead had broken down, so they'd be better off backtracking and going around the fifth the other way to get to their destination.