Monday, February 18, 2013

Along the Line: Snow Plowing for Eagle Flyer

The Blizzard of 2013 gave the Essex Steam Train and Riverboat an opportunity to put its theory of “Accessible History” to a real test. Nearly 30” of heavy, wet snow deposited itself upon our tracks from Essex to Haddam just ahead of our winter Eagle Flyer series. Like most other railroads in the northeast, we found ourselves snowbound, as our diesel locomotives would only move about 50' before a pile of hard snow was packed ahead of the coupler.

The allure of running the Eagle Flyer series in deep snow, the desire to train new people in snow removal operations, and the need to test our newly refurbished 1896 Hoosac Tunnel and Wilmington snow plow all added up to the decision to open the rail line for the February series. While we’ve cancelled the Eagle Flyer in the past due to snow, this year we were motivated to take on the challenge.

The first step was a comprehensive track inspection prior the storm, to ensure the safety of the rails prior to becoming impossible to see. After the storm, our payloader was dispatched to clear the railroad crossings of up to 10' of accumulated snow. Then General Electric locomotive 0901, believed to be the oldest regularly operating diesel in the country, nudged up against what certainly must be one of the oldest wooden snowplows in the world and gingerly pushed its way 9 miles north through the snowpack. What an experience, riding in a 120 year old wooden box, with 500 horsepower and 80 tons breathing down the neck, and seeing nothing but a sea of white splitting ahead of the silver and orange wedge. This was the first time in the 42-year history of the company that a plow was needed to clear the line.


Railfans at Deep River Landing capture the spectacle of snow plowing with classic equipment!

The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat is thrilled to have been able to safely open the line, and provide this up-close access to the Connecticut River and its marshlands at a time when just getting to the mailbox was a challenge. The Eagle Flyer ran as scheduled. Wildlife was in abundance, and yes – we did see eagles!

Rob Bradway
V.P. Track and Property


Stephanie Belser said...

So, how has 2013 gone for you?

(I did the Your Hand on the Throttle in the Spring of `10. Most fun I've had in a long time.

Escoce said...

Hi, any updates? It's been almost a year.