Merry Christmas! A C&S rotary hits the drifts in my imagination
Merry Christmas to all of you here!
I recently watched a video of a 1993 rotary snowplow trip on the Cumbres and Toltec and found myself imagining it actually occurring on the eastern ascent to the Alpine Tunnel. I took a few screenshots from the video and labeled them with sites along the C&S between Hancock and East Portal that they resemble. These are my "Christmas Cards" to all here in the C&S community.
April 1902, C&S rotary plow 99200 cuts through snow drifts roughly one mile west of Hancock.
How many of youzalls own and use a two-stage snowblower ? Identical
except for scale and riding on rails. Clearing snow is can be a major part
of my winter business, if the snow gods deem it so. It is hard not to think
about large scale operations as I shove the machine into the deep stuff.
After our last snow, I rebuilt the impeller extensions on the smaller of my
two machines, ... a trick I heard of, and then learned via Youtube video.
With these extensions, the plow will throw impressive arcs of snow 60' and
really do resemble a hardworking rotary out clearing the line.
Similarly to the old rotaries in use, a fair amount of care and work goes into
keeping rocks and other solid debris from finding their way into the jaws of
the machines. And when they do, it's another similar operation of backing
out of the cut to make repairs, or hauling it all the way back to "the roundhouse"
for bigger trouble.
Here it is Christmas day, and while it snowed last night, the ground is now
clear and sun is out. The "rotaries" sit in quiet repose in their stalls awaiting
the next callout.
I'm not sure if these would be considered single-stage or two-stage. It does have cutting blades and throwing blades, but they are all attached to the same rotating assembly and shaft so they move in the same direction at the same speed. On a modern two-stage snow blower, the first stage is an auger operating on a horizontal shaft perpendicular to the direction of travel while the second stage is on a longitudinal shaft and throws the snow that the first stage pushes in, and the two stages probably operate at different speeds to optimize each function. The front blades on the rotary plow may help to push snow into the throwing blades, but it looks to me like their purpose is more to chop up the compacted snow so it doesn't jam the chute.
You're right about the plumes coming from the rotarys - very impressive. I don't even own a snow shovel anymore let alone a snow blower. I can sometimes see snow on the mountain top, but if it ever snows down here, that'll be a very bad sign. Even when I lived in snow county, I always just shoveled by hand.
Thanks, Chris. I wrote my post when I was looking at a pic in the Klingers' Gunnison Division book (below) and they had an undated caption reading, "Eastbound C&S rotary #99200 has stopped just past the stone boarding house at Alpine in this snowy scene." page 185. I wonder if the caption is incorrect, though. The building behind the rotary has a roofline that doesn't seem to match the stone boarding house. It looks to have an equal pitch on both sides of the peak whereas the boarding house roof pitch is less pronounced towards the back.
In the winter of 2007-2008, we got 8' of snow in December alone. A record,
since records began being kept in 1880. Local homes and businesses had roofs
caving in. It was crazy. It seemed to catch everyone off guard, in spite of Spokane
being at 2000-2800 ft and always getting winter snow. Few had snowblowers,
and it didn't take long until there wasn't a blower or snow shovel in town to buy.
I instantly found myself in the snow clearing business. The following winter we
broke the previous year's record with over 10' of the white stuff.
Ten feet of snow makes for a lot of creativity, when it comes to where to put the
stuff. Toss snow on top of the already 10' deep stuff and the piles get insanely high.
Driveways looked like long hallways. Add a little wind and the drifts can bury
houses and rapidly filled in the cuts we made. One place where we hauled the
snow off to, had a pile 30' high and 100' x 200' square. It did not melt away until
early July the following year.
The next winter we did not get enough snow to bother getting a snow shovel out !
I will use a shovel up to about 3", and then the machines come out. Especially if
involves wide spaces, like a parking lot. As I am sure the South Park boys became
expert at how to best attack snow blockades, I have learned a lot about how to best
get the stuff out of the way with the least amount of effort (relatively speaking).