This week in Prince George history, Oct. 30 to Nov. 5:
Oct. 31, 1935: Two men were sentenced to jail on Oct. 29, 1935, after attempting to derail a CN Rail train west of Prince George, The Citizen reported.
Arthur Sutherland, 19, was sentenced to 16 years in jail and Joe Isaac, 28, was sentenced to 17 years for the attempted disaster, which Judge Robertson described as "without precedent in the history of railroading in Canada."
The incident occured on Sept. 27, 1935 at Beament, located near the Bulkley Canyon about halfway between Moricetown and New Hazelton.
The men found a blind railway siding, which was "used for the dumping of material into the Bulkley River 200 feet below the railway grade," The Citizen reported.
"The switch entering the mainline of the railway was secured with a strong switch lock, but this was soon demolished and the switch thrown to bring a train off the mainline onto the siding," The Citizen reported. "About the only thing the (men) failed to reckon with was the watchfulness of Frank V. Foster, the engineer on the train which took the siding after the switch had been thrown. He had a feeling something was wrong as he approached the switch and slowed down his train."
Foster's caution allowed him to stop the train before it reached the end of the siding and jumped off into the river hundreds of feet below.
"Had the train not been stopped before the end of the short siding had been reached, it is improbable that any person on it would have escaped death," The Citizen reported.
CN Rail investigator Ken Matheson of Prince George was called out to investigate the case and, with the help of B.C Provincial Police Sgt. R. Bowen and Const. Grant, located the suspects - both members of the Fraser Lake Indian Band (now known as the Nadleh Whut'en First Nation).
"Sutherland, the younger of the two, did not realize the seriousness of his offence, and confessed the switch had been thrown so that they would have a close-up (view) on a railway smash worth while," The Citizen reported. "They had never seen a train wreck and decided to pull one off for sole purpose of gratifying their curiosity."
Sutherland entered a plea of guilty, while Isaac entered a plea of not guilty but was convicted.
The only thing I can add is a quote from Batman's butler and aide-de-camp Alfred Pennyworth (played by the inimitable Michael Caine) from the 2008 film, The Dark Knight:
"(Some) men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."
To explore 100 years of local history yourself, visit the Prince George Citizen archives online at: pgc.cc/PGCarchive. The Prince George Citizen online archives are maintained by the Prince George Public Library.