August
27

On the Empress Subdivision the snow had blown and drifted so much, the Roadmaster Albert Evanski had ordered out a snowplow, and we were the crew called for it, we had a new conductor Don Hurlbert, so John and I got our power off the shop track we had the 3015 leading and an 8800 trailing, we switched out are assigned caboose from the caboose track, and dugout a snowplow from the auxiliary track it was pointed in the correct direction, so we ran around it and put it on the point in front of the 3015, the tailend crew brought over our train orders, we did the brake test, and the snowplow foreman got us to hook up the brake pipe, and communicating hoses, the air filled up the massive air reservoirs that operated the blades, and the wings of the snowplow, which he tested. On the deck of the plow was a large air cylinder about 10 inches in diameter with a steel mechanism that lifted and lowered the blades on the front, this was covered with a steel cage to prevent injury if anyone were to fall from the operator’s seat. CPR snowplows were manufactured from the early 1900s up to the 1930s they were numbered in the 400000 to 420000 series and weighed 55,000 pounds or 27.5 tons, they look like half boxcar, with a sloped pointed double wedge profile on the front, on the front are air activated blades that run between the rails nearly touching the ground, they can be raised when approaching grade crossings, and many other obstacles that sit between the rails including railway crossings at grade, sectionmen’s speeder setoffs, and switch points, on the sides and there are air activated wings that are hinged to the side body of the plow these are pushed out to cut a wider swath through snowdrifts, and are pulled in when approaching switch stands, and other obstacles trackside that could be hit if the wings were fully extended. To warn the Roadmaster who usually operated the snowplow, along with the assistance of the snowplow foreman of approaching obstructions, signs are erected 1/4 mile, or 1320 feet on each side, the sign is rectangular 18 inches wide, 9 inches high, with a white background, and two circular black dots 6 inches in diameter painted on each side. This gives him ample time to retract the blades, and the wings to avoid damage to the track structure. Here are some views of snowplows, and signage.

We left Swift Current around 09:00 Friday morning and started to plow from Java to words Leader on the Empress Subdivision, everything went along slowly in this cold weather, we did hit some bigger drifts in the cuts, and hollows were the snow had really drifted in. The Snowplow Forman would communicate by radio when we were approaching a big drift, and John would open up the locomotives throttle accordingly for the amount of horsepower that was necessary to get through the drift. When you hit these drifts visibility in the cab of the locomotive was down to nothing, as the snow started flying over the top will plow and along our short train. In the cab of the locomotive you could really feel the force you were pushing up against, speed would slow down considerably, and more throttle would be applied to breakthrough. enroute we branched off and did some plowing on the Pennant subdivision, and the Grant spur along the way We arrived at Leader about 21:00 and tied up for the evening at Leader, as our only accommodations for this assignment were in the station at Empress, and the bunkhouse in Swift Current, the company had arranged rooms for us in the Leader Hotel, where we tied up around 21:00. The great benefit of working on snowplows under our collective agreement with the Company and Union was that, seeing we could not reach our objective terminals, we went on pay 24 hours a day, until our tour of duty was finished. It was nice to sleep in a quiet hotel, with all the amenities we didn’t have on the road. We went back to work at 08:00 after a leisurely breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant, today we plowed northward towards Empress, where we even cleaned up some of the yard tracks located there, and then we returned to Leader around 13:00 where we stopped for a nice lunch at the hotels Chinese restaurant that had an excellent buffet. After lunch we then went to plow the Burstall Subdivision down to Fox Valley and including the spurs at Schuler, and Ingebright Lake, as we were plowing to words Burstall, the engineer was having trouble hearing me Snowplow Forman on his radio, so he asked me to take my portable and ride inside the plow to communicate with him, it was quite an adventure rioting in one of these old pieces of rolling stock that were over 70 years old, the suspension was something to be desired, it rode really rough, and the noise level was quite high from the noise the air cylinders made when raising and lowering the front blades, and when opening and closing the side wings, the only source of heat was a small cast-iron stove that burned coal. I rode on a bench seat alongside the Snowplow Forman in the front of the plow; there were two small glass windows with bars across them, to prevent breakage from flying debris. When we were approaching
the big drifts I would radio to John our engineer to widen on the throttle, and when you hit the drift was quite a sight as the snow shot up from the front of the plow and cascaded over the side’s landing on the right-of-way it was a complete whiteout in the plow. After another full day we tied up at Leader around 20:00, being a Saturday night we went to the local bar in the hotel for a couple of well deserved refreshments, before retiring for a good night’s rest, returning to Swift Current the next day.

Some Exterior and Interior views of snowplows taken at Alyh yard in Calgary, this plow is still in service at this time, the exterior shows site views of the blades and wings, side and front windows with roof mounted headlight, and the front coupler, the rear end with handbrake and electrical hookup for the headlight from the locomotive. The Interior views show the controls for operating the blades and wings, conductors emergency valve, air gauges, blade actuating cylinder, main reservoirs, steps, older side window, other features include more modern seats, windows, and an oil heater compared to the coal stove we had on the one I worked on back in 1973, the seats weren’t as luxurious, just wooden bench seats, also included a couple of other views of

snowplow’s in themountains.

snowplow foreman's seat with wing control

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