Clearing Tracks - Rail Snow Plows (JoPD/CC)

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(I have been sharing "Joys of the Public Domain" and "Treasures of the Creative Commons" on my Twitter feed for a while. They're just things (mostly pictures) that I've stumbled across and enjoyed. Expect more random collections like this in the future!)

My office window looks out over the Mississippi River bluffs; today the view is obscured by a gentle-but-blinding (5-7" expected accumulation) snowfall. Road crews across the state and the Upper Midwest are still at work digging out from a bigger storm 10 days ago, so I had snowplows on my mind as I headed to The Commons on Flickr this morning.

Since many public domain images are fairly old, the niftiest plows I found were those used to clear railway lines. Check these out:

Black & white photo of large rail plow, covered with snow, attached to two engines. Sitting on apparently-clear tracks at Warner, Alberta, Canada - 1909
Snow Plow and Alberta Railway And Irrigation Company Engines 22 And 25 At Warner, Alberta. 1909. From the Galt Museum and Archive's Collection.

Black & white photo of large rail plow at station, some snow still stuck on the blade. A person stands atop the plow. O&W line, 1880s.
O&W Snow Plow #3, circa 1880. From the Cornell University Library Collection.
(O&W apparently refers to the New York, Ontario & Western Railway.)

And most spectacularly:
Black & white photo, head-on view of rail plow charging a five-foot drift - the plow is invisible below the drift, and obscured by fountains of snow it is throwing upwards. Spectators are watching from behind a fence.
"Effect of three engines & snow plough charging a five feet drift of snow at Altnabreac, Caithness." By James Johnston. 1895. Collection of the National Archives, UK.

After exploring the public domain images for a bit, I got curious to see if the technologies have changed over time. In some ways, not so much...

The Mighty Plows - modern configurable wedge or slanted rail plows
The Mighty Plows. CC by Orin Zebest.

But in other ways...
World's Heaviest Snowplow - side-angle view of enormous aluminum-colored train engine that carries a set of huge fan-like blades in front
World's Heaviest Snowplow. CC by-nd Chuck "Caveman" Coker.

Here's another angle on one of these "rotary plow" things!
Snow eater train - head-on view of the fan-like blades of a rotary plow in a train museum
Snow eater train. CC by-sa Nelson Minar.

So much to be learned from and shared in the public domain and the Creative Commons. I'm very thankful for both!

1 Comment

Wow, great pictures. I had no idea there were train plows, would hate to end up in front of one of those!

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This page contains a single entry by nasims published on December 20, 2010 1:47 PM.

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