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Railfan Photo Line - February 2012

Welcome to Photo Line! The railroads' epic battle with winter weather has become stuff of legends. Every day a railroad is shut down due to weather is a day they are losing money. Using everything from mechanical rotary snow plows, to large wedge plows, to spreaders, the railroads will stop at nothing to clear the line. Grab a cup of hot cocoa as we follow photographer Nick Benson through the upper Midwest in search of exciting snow plow extras.

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonIC&E Snowplow Train; Cylinder, Iowa

The Iowa, Chicago & Easten plow extra was led by the "City of Cylinder" which was appropriate for this location. "ICE" was also appropriate, as the temperature never climbed above -5 F the whole day. January 9, 2010

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonDM&E Plow Extra at Armstrong, Minnesota

If you were wondering how people have fun in the Upper Midwest when it's -5 F outside, a couple of answers can be seen buzzing alongside the rails here. Jordan Spreader DME 1004 with EMD SD40-2's DME 6365 and DME 6056 clearing drifts on the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern's Jackson Sub in southern Minnesota. January 9, 2010

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonPacing the plow at Hutchins, Iowa

A pair of SD40-2's, each with 3,000 HP, work together to push an old wedge snowplow. The motion effect in this shot is obtained by shooting from a moving platform (our car) with a longer exposure, which tranlsates to motion blur in the foreground. January 9, 2010

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonFlying snow at Whittemore, Iowa

There are tracks under there, somewhere! The grain elevator in Whittemore looms on the horizon as a snowplow extra clears the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern's Sheldon Sub. January 9, 2010

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonLeasers on a plow extra , Blue Earth, Minnesota

No need for expensive Jordan Spreaders when you can just jam a leaser unit through the snow. This train appears responsible for clearing the Fairmont Sub west of Blue Earth. The air temperature, according to the car, was -13 F at the time of the photo. January 9, 2010

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonRotary action near Stockholm, South Dakota

One of BNSF's Alco-Cooke rotary snow plows attacks a drift near Stockholm, South Dakota, only moments before losing its main cutter blades, ending its snow-fighting season. February 8, 2011

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonBNSF Plow Extra at Stockholm, South Dakota

With the rotary plow disabled, the BNSF plow extra backs through a grade crossing so the crew can do some work from the side of the highway where tools from their vehicles are more readily accessible. From left to right are Jordan Spreader BN 972658; EMD GP38-2 BNSF 2258; EMD GP40X BNSF 3032; EMD GP28P BNSF 1542; and Alco-Cooke Rotary BN 972551. February 8, 2011

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonThe temporary(?) demise of BN 972551; Stockholm, South Dakota

This is what a rotary looks like when the blades from the primary cutter assembly disappear spontaneously. The blades you see here are actually the secondary ones that throw the snow out of the chute; the main blades that interact with the snow drifts are completely gone. The plow was taken out of service and rebuilt for snow fighting duty the following season. February 8, 2011

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonDM&E Plow Extra at Baroda, Minnesota

Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern's Jordan Spreader clears the Jackson Sub in Baroda, MN. February 3, 2011

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonUnion Pacific plow extra at Armstrong, Iowa

The Union Pacific plow extra passes a farm's windmill near Armstrong, Iowa, pushing a former C&NW spreader to its next snow busting assignment. December 11, 2009

Snow Fighting by Nick BensonCNWX 11991 at Gridley, Iowa

A former Chicago & North Wester snow plow busts through the drifts near Gridley, Iowa. All four members of the spreader crew can be seen here... At least one of them is wearing a big smile. December 11, 2009


Railfan Photo Line

Railfan Photo Line welcomes your submissions. We're looking for a themed topic (and "theme" can be interpreted fairly broadly) with five to eight photos. Each photo should be no smaller than 14 inches (or 1024 pixels) across at 72 dpi (no verticals, please). Brief caption information must accompany each photo. Please send your inquiries to the Webmaster for consideration.

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