Snow removal is a formidable challenge throughout the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains. Wedge plows are able to clear most snowdrifts, but deeper snow may require a rotary snowplow. Both types require a locomotive to push them. A rotary’s circular blades chop up the snow and throw it clear of the tracks. Unlike wedge plows, rotaries are expensive to operate and maintain and are used only for the most severe conditions.
In the following descriptions, (N) indicates narrow gauge and (S) indicates standard gauge.
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Chicago Burlington & Quincy Wedge Snowplow No. 205065 (S)
No. 205065 is a wedge snowplow. Wedge plows push snow to the side of the rail line. This one is attached to a flat car loaded with rock and steel to provide stability.
Denver & Rio Grande Western Steam Locomotive No. 318 (N)
This C&S rotary snowplow operated over a number of Colorado mountain lines from 1899 until 1965. Large spinning blades on the front threw snow high and far to either side of the track, clearing the way for trains. Power to spin the rotary blades was generated by a steam engine located in the plow. The plow cannot move itself and must be pushed by locomotives.