Our Travels West, Summer 2007 - David and Linda Young travel blog

David and the Union Pacific Snowplow and the RR Man

One of the old luggage carts

The blades shift to throw snow left or right of the tracks

Instructions - still in the cab

The dining coach

'nuff said

Rail Nails

RR Talk

When the snowplow train got snowed in

Bunk beds built in to the frame, note phone box on bed

Telegraph, morse code,, stuff

Still in use when the temperature drops

Discussing RR stuff

Why didn't he just tell me to 'Hop on up -'

I was so excited that I just hopped up on the hand...

Look it, look it - I can do this...

Oh, yeah! Having fun!

Learning how it reverses


I was able to do something here in Hermiston I have wanted to do for 55 years!

We stayed at the Pioneer RV Park in Hermiston, OR. We needed to do laundry and relax for a couple of days before getting back on the road again. Very nice park, but very few trees and it was hot. So, we went exploring.

There was a farmers market and craft show combination in town. Connie and I had a good time talking to the people and looking at the crafts. There were even some 'guy things' to occupy David and Ron. The town is small, with a pretty park right downtown.

On the way back to the RV Park I yelled, "What is That?". Connie and Ron laughed - it was a snow plow engine used for clearing the tracks in the winters. Being a born and bred Florida girl I had never seen such a thing! The chain link fence was locked tight with no indication that it would be 'open'.

We had dinner at an authentic (or so we believe) Mexican restaurant. Quite unlike the big box Mexican restaurants at home, and a big step up from the small neighborhood Mexican restaurant in San Antonio. Connie and I liked the young and very attentive waiter, and of course Ron and David told us we couldn't take him home. The food was great - a lot of fun.

Speaking of a lot of fun - we end up having adventures, even when we don't plan them. The next day we rode by the snow plow train again and the gate was OPEN. Wow! David and I were quite taken with it all. Ron and Connie, not so much as they have seen plenty of them in their lives.

There was a very nice man there who ran the place - if you can call opening the gates "almost every Saturday", and sitting around trading tall tales with three friends, along with a young engaged man and his soon-to-be-wife and the man's dog. It seems they don't promote that they are open - but if someone wanders in, they are more than happy to give a tour.

There were two engines on tracks. One had been 'gutted', but the other was still all together. We were shown how loud the engine was when it ran, how the blades turned that consisted of the front and threw snow, then the blades would reverse and throw snow the other way. Along with the sound of the train engine, there was the clanking and groaning of the snow plow blades. Quite impressive!

We went through the cab of one of the engines. Everthing was very high up, so the driver could see over the snow banks. There was a dining car with old-old stuff in it. Our guide was very informative about what everything was or did. He had a lot of tales to tell. I was - almost - too amazed to ask questions. I took lots of pictures, of course. It was as if I jumped back in time when I was inside the train. Outside they had an old luggage cart...along with signs and RR Crossing stuff.

When we lived on Ollie Avenue by the Dinky RR Line when I was growing up, there was a RR station down by the lake. They handled freight - no passengers by the time we lived there. I loved hearing the train whistle coming around the lake. The men at the train station were very patient with me. I rode my bike around the wooden platform, put pennies on the RR tracks, bothered them with numerous questions about what is this and what does it do - It has always been a good memory of my childhood.

We were finishing up our tour and talking about all the collection they had. I asked, why don't you have a hand car, the kind you pumped by hand? The young man, who knew almost as much about the engines and the stories as the men, told me they Did have one. He went over to the tracks and switched to another track, then walked to the back of the property. He came back Pumping A Hand Car down the track!

He was talking about the history and how they were use - I couldn't stand it! I got right up on the rain car! Next thing I knew, he was still giving me stories about the hand cars and how they were used and We Were Pumping the Hand Car Back Down the Tracks!..It really was quite a thrill for me! All those years ago when we lived near the Dinky Line I had really wanted to pump and ride a hand car, but that was one thing the men at that RR Station would not let me do. Here I was, 55 years later - I Was Pumping and Riding an Actual-Honest-to-Goodness Hand Car - !

I was a very happy camper after our visit to the snow plow engines.

Union Pacific Leslie Rotary Snowplow:

Built in Decamber 1949 the plow was in service until August 1985 when it was retired and donated to the City of Hermiston. The plow is in operative condition and is one of four built that were powered by a 6 cylinder shay steam engine.

PLOW: Length - 55'54", Weight - 297,000 pounds

BOILER: Inside diameter - 80 inches, Pressure - 200 pounds, Super heater surface

square feet - 498

FIRE BOX: Length - 112 1/8 inches, Width - 86 1/4 inches

CYLINDERS: Number - 6, Diameter - 13 inches, Stroke - 15", Rotary Wheel RPMS - 150

TENDER: Length - 48', Weight loaded - 415,500 lbs, Weight empty - 168,400 lbs

Water - 23,513 gallons, Fuel - (No. 2 Diesel) 6,800 gallons

Built by Alco in 1930

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