ASME-Landmark:Northern Pacific Railroad Snow Plow


Manufactured by Cooke Locomotive & Machine Works of Paterson in 1887, the Northern Pacific Rotary Snow Plow #2 is the oldest surviving rotary snowplow in the world. Rotary snow plows provided a more effective and reliable means of removing snow from rail lines. These devices were instrumental in keeping freight and passenger rail systems in operation in the harshest of winters.

Before its invention by Orange Jull in 1884, railways were forced to rely on snow sheds and fixed plows which tended to be inefficient and sometimes dangerous. The rotary snow plows were safer because they moved at slow, consistent speeds to remove the snow with a large cutting wheel that would cut the snow and pass it to a throwing wheel behind it. In one hour, a rotary plow could do the same amount of work as a regular plow could in one day. Each plow was pushed by three or four steam locomotives, moving at a speed of 4 to 6 miles per hour.

The No. 2 was originally put in service to clear deep snow drifts in the Cascade Mountains region. It was later sent east to the railroads in Minnesota and North Dakota, where it worked until the World War II era. The No. 2 can now be seen at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, which purchased it from the Steam Preservation Society, Cadillac, Mich., for $3,750 in February 1975. See ASME website for more information