I have a snow shovel sitting on my deck. So far this
winter the only movement it has seen is when the dog knocks it over.
That is a good thing.
We’ve had a few winters recently with a lot of snow.
We’ve had to deal with deep drifts and the inconveniences they bring. But we
have modern equipment for moving snow.
In 1907 there was a lot of snow as well. Probably similar
to the last few years.
And they didn’t have the modern equipment we take for
According to a January edition of the Jamestown Alert
there were 1,200 men hired by the railroad to shovel off the tracks between
Larimoure and Minot.
The railroad sent out special trains, including bunk and
cook cars, for the crews that would be shoveling the tracks clear. The trouble
was the wind was blowing in the snow as quickly as the track was shoveled. In
fact, visibility was so bad that a following freight train ran into a shoveling
crew killing two and injuring 7.
The Great Northern Railroad tried using a rotary plow on
another section of track in northern North Dakota. This was the equivalent of a
big snowblower mounted on a steam engine.
The rotary plow ran out of coal before it reached Minot.
Unfortunately, the tracks had blown in behind the train effectively leaving it
stranded in the middle of nowhere.
In a move that had to be embarrassing to the railroad
they had to contract with local farmers to use horse drawn sleds to haul coal
to the train.
In Jamestown things were getting desperate due to a lack
of coal. The railroad loaned the city power plant 10 tons to keep the power on
in Jamestown. The state hospital heating plant was also noted as running short
on coal because the trains weren’t getting through even on the mainline of the
It would seem that watching for the railroad snow plows
and trains was a common pass time in any of the towns along the tracks,
Dr. J.J. Davy, a local physician in Jamestown, even
diagnosed a new ailment associated with the problem.
Davy said he had diagnosed many cases of
“rubberneckitis” in people who stood on the depot platform looking
down the track to see if the snow plow was coming.
Which is why the lack of snow is good for everyone’s
health this winter.