Railroad plow finds final resting place in Craig
D&RGW machine worked tracks plowing snow, dirt in 1930s
September 6, 2007
Craig — On Wednesday, a piece of American railroad history wound its way down the tracks from Phippsburg to the siding in Craig in a final journey to a resting place at the Wyman’s Living History Ranch and Museum.
Author Jerry Day helps recall the history and heyday of Jordan Spreader No. 048.
The Denver and Rio Grande Western railroad knew it found a versatile machine in the Jordan Spreader when it ordered two of them built in April 1937.
The D&RGW had seven Jordan Spreaders of different models built by the O. F. Jordan Company of East Chicago, Ind.
Spreader No. 048 was built with a sister spreader, No. 049, at a cost of $15,863 per machine.
The spreaders worked as snowplows in the winter and as spreaders for moving dirt and ballast during railroad repairs in the summer months.
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The spreaders were pushed by one or two locomotives and had a large, A-plow blade on the front end with rail cuts to allow plowing below track level.
Operators in the wooden cab could lower two pneumatic side-arms, using extension blades to increase the reach when possible.
Spreaders made for use in southern states had no cabs or ice cutters next to the main plow blade.
No. 048 was based in the railroad yard in north Denver during the winter and was used to plow snow on the mainline of the Moffat Tunnel.
The machine made Craig trips if the snow depth warranted a run.
For a time in the 1970s, No. 048 was based at Provo, Utah, for use on the main line over Soldier Summit.
The original machine was painted black and white, and the wooden cab, or “doghouse,” was added for cold weather duty in Colorado.
During World War II, the spreader was painted gray with black lettering, a color pattern it would keep until the 1970s, when it was painted orange.
While it was in the shop receiving the orange paint job, metal shielding was added to keep snow out of the mechanism.
A new headlight was added to No. 048, replacing an old steam-engine light it had been given from a scrapped engine.
Sister spreader No. 049 is located in Alamosa.
Union Pacific Railroad Super-visor John Rourke was a driving force behind securing No. 048 for the Wyman Museum.
The spreader soon will be on display next to the caboose on tracks donated to the museum by Twentymile Coal Company.
Dan Olsen can be reached at 824-7031, ext.207, or email@example.com