17° in Frisco/Dickey this morning, and 17° in North Alabama too. Damn!
Yesterday and Friday we had snow flurries, and I wondered if I might need to break out the Rotary this year. Then I started thinking that back in the 20's and 30's, the C&S must have believed they could open the line over Kenosha to bring engines to Como for the Rotary which was kept there. Since all but one of the West End enginemen lived in Como, the East End guys would have had to layover in Como while their engines were in rotary service.
If the Platte Canyon or Kenosha was blocked, they would have had to bring the second Rotary up from Denver.
It is known that there were occasional times when both of the rotarys were used, this could explain why.
I asked Doug Schnarbush about this, but I never felt that he really understood what I was asking.
He made several rotary trips firing the Rotary or one of the locomotives. He told me on one occasion they had to open Boreas using the large Rotary, which he was firing, and didn't arrive in Breckenridge until about 3:30 or 4:00 the following morning. They were all dog tired. The agent was there, and told Doug that a telegraph message had arrived to inform him that his wife had given birth to a baby daughter that night. So he remembered that trip very well.
I've never really thought before of the logistics of running the Rotary out of Como with no locomotives based there, except the emergency passenger engine.
Running engines up from Denver is the only thing that makes sense to me.
Mike, I guess that means that once you know you have a problem, it is 4-6 hours before the locomotives arrive and you can get to work. Also, if they ran into much trouble along the way, would they have to lay over for rest adding another 8 hours to the process. Of course, once the locomotives got to Como, they would have to be turned, coaled and water. The railroad did have the advantage of the telegraph, insofar as they had agents in place to monitor the weather.
It has been my observation that the weather generally comes from
the NE in those parts. The Front Range seems to provide something
of a shield to the Platte Cañon area for big snows like will occur further
west along the continental divide. I do not recall ever seeing a photo
of really deep snow along the line until it got to Michigan, where the
South Park winds piled up high drifts.
If a were train coming from Michigan to Como, and the wind blew
at it from the right side as it traveled toward Como, what direction
would that wind be coming from ?
It seems to me, that is how the bad drifts look to be oriented in old
photos of stuck trains along the line there. I have never wintered over
on the South Park to know how it works firsthand, but my non-winter
visits ... I seem to recall the wind blowing from that same direction (?).
Sometimes two locomotives were enough. There are even photos of a helper and the regular passenger train pushing a rotary.
Being that the heavy snow has always fallen in March and April, maybe they held two helpers back if they felt it might be warranted. Not as a standard practice, just intuition based on decades of experience. Along with the emergency passenger engine, they would have three available without too much trouble.
I would guess the rotary power out of Como would be off of the WB freight out of Denver. It was very very rare that a rotary would run east of Grant. While there were rotary runs in the Park the big blockades were the slides out of Frisco in Ten Mile Canyon.
In talking of number of rotaries, rotary runs, motive power and crews out of Como one needs keep in mind the era we are talking about. While the Gunnison line was open the rotary, crew and motive power story would be a whole different story.
Brownie Anderson also was greeted with a new arrival at the end of a rotary run, this after a long run to Leadville. His new born son was quite the fan of Como and the C&S.
On the UP, because of the expense of extra crews, extra locomotives, and the cost of the manpower to operate the rotaries (engineer or operator and fireman), the decision was usually left with the Superintendent. He would have to be the one to justify its use, or explain why trains were stranded in the snow.
Remember, the Rotaries would have to be deadheaded to where they were needed if they couldn't be worked along the way. That is the cost of a train crew. Engineer, Fireman, Brakemen and Conductor. The usual deadhead movement was just a Rotary, Locomotive and Caboose.
Basically the same on the BNSF. No cabooses any more. They called one out last winter when AMTRAK was stuck outside of Minot but recalled it before it left the yard. pics of 2 of the 3 BNSF rotaries in Glendive and the Bros plow. Working on the road and don't have a copy of the third Glendive rotary on this computer. They used the green on in North Dakota the year before. Different for the big railroads and a lot further commute for the plows to get to work.