Beavers: 1, 152 car coal train: 0

On Saturday morning a train derailed near the entrance to Burnaby Lake, my preferred jogging area. The track runs along the northern side of the lake and on this particular morning nine of the cars came off the track, with three of them tipping and spilling their coal onto the ground and into the nearby stream. It could have been worse since it was coal and not, say, nuclear waste, which would have led to five generations of three-headed fish or just killed everything in the water for the next 500 years.

The torrential rains (we just went through a mini-Pineapple Express) are believed to have undermined the track but the main culprit for the derailment were beavers. They didn’t chew the track to bits, though one can imagine the havoc if they developed a taste for creosote. Instead, the rain washed out one of their mega-dams in a nearby creek and that helped wreck the track. As the CBC news story said:

“We’ve confirmed that the cause of the derailment yesterday in Burnaby was due to heavy rainfall that led to a beaver dam washout,” she told CBC News Sunday.

You have to admire that a few beavers can cause thousands of tons of machinery to topple over like that. And you know they’ll rebuild the dam, possibly with a not-quite-evil glint in their eyes.

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