Lucas Oleniuk/Getty ImagesJesse Feith, Montreal Gazette July 3, 2015
Two years after the train derailment that killed 47 people, Lac-Mégantic’s relationship with the railroad it was built around is complicated.
The town’s fate has always been intertwined with that of the railroad. Lac-Mégantic was founded after the tracks were put down in the late 1880s, and has relied on the rails for survival ever since.
Families moved ever closer to the railroad, and grew to trust it. Even as town officials lodged complaints about the decaying tracks over the last 20 years, that trust remained.
The importance of the tracks to this Eastern Townships municipality is such that they were repaired before many of the buildings that were destroyed when the crude-carrying tank cars exploded in the heart of town.
Despite the destruction now associated with the railroad, when the first train came through town five months after the disaster, many people saw it as the beginning of Lac-Mégantic’s rebirth.
Residents knew they had to set aside their fear and anger if the town was to survive economically. One out of six jobs in town still has ties to the railroad.
“We had no choice, really,” town councillor Richard Michaud says. “Hundreds of jobs depend on (the railroad) here, and we couldn’t risk losing them.”
But the trust is gone.
........Montreal Gazette reporter Jesse Feith and photojournalist John Kenney visited towns along the route linking the Bakken oil formation and Lac-Mégantic to explore the relationships between people and their railroads. Here are the stories they’ve brought back..... more here