Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Fighting Snow on the Hojack

Submitted by Richard Palmer

Oswego Palladium, Monday, Feb. 10, 1902

Stuck Fast in Snow Drifts

Passenger Trains Stalled Since Saturday

Six of them Between South Richland and Charlotte -
One Contained Members of the Fifteenth Infantry
Bound for the Philippines - Thirty-six Hours from Watertown

Six passenger trains were stalled in snowdrifts yesterday on
the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg division of the New York Central
railroad, operated from this city, and an army of nearly a thousand
men were engaged in shoveling them out.

At Fernwood, the first station south of Pulaski on the Northern
division, a special train with about 200 soldiers of the Fifteenth
Infantry, from Madison Barracks, bound for the Philippines, was
stalled in the snow and remained there up to last evening. The men
were supplied with rations, and upon the steampipes they had an
arrangement for heating coffee. Passenger Agents Gridley and Hartigan
were aboard.

The train due here from Watertown and Utica Saturday at 4:45
p.m. did not arrive until about nine o'clock last night. Conductor
Brumfield was in charge. The train had been stalled between Mexico
and Sand Hill. The snow there was reported to be fifteen feet deep.
Among the passengers on the train was John Hoffman, of Watertown, who
came to this city to attend the funeral of his sister, Mrs. Louis
Brosener, which occurred today. He had been thirty-six hours on the
road and being a man advanced in years had suffered for want of
something to eat. A rotary plow from the main line of the New York
Central cut the way through the drifts and followed.

The Wabash Flyer, conductor John T. O'Brien, due to arrive
here Saturday morning at eleven o'clock, was stalled in the drifts
near Red Creek from Saturday afternoon and had not been released at
10 A.M. today.

The passenger train from Rochester, Conductor George Donovan,
due to arrive here at 12:45 P.M. Saturday, was stalled behind the
flyer and the train that should have reached here Saturday evening at
6:15 o'clock in charge of Conductor Stewart was some place between
Wallington and Charlotte.

Conductor Thomas D. Clooney who left here Saturday at 1:05 P.M.
with a train made up here bound for Rochester, spent Saturday night,
Sunday and part of today at least among the snow drifts of Hannibal.
Railroad men said this morning that unless there was a let up in the
storm along the western division that the four trains stalled there
would not be released before nightfall, if then.

There was no train into this city over the Phoenix line after
2:30 A.M. Sunday. Conductor Daniel R. Ryan left Syracuse Saturday
night at eleven o'clock with his train and after a hard run arrived
here at the hour above stated.

The D.L.& W. road had two trains in yesterday. The first
arrived about 12:30 12:30 o'clock, four hours late. The next train
arrived in the evening two hours late. Saturday night Conductor John
H. Roche got his train, due to arrive here from Binghamton at 10:15
P.M. as far as the Kingsford farm. The snow in the long cut was solid
and deep. Gathering the passengers into the baggage car the train was
cut and the locomotives started with the baggage car for this city
while trainmen were left behind to guard the front and rear end of
the passenger coaches, Roche's forethought the passengers would
probably remained in the snow all night. After the way was broken the
passenger coaches came easy behind a shifting engine and were put
away in the yard.

There was no Wabash train from New York over the O.& W.
yesterday. Because of the storm the train was shifted to the Central
tracks at Oneida and sent to Suspension Bridge by the main line. The
train east took the same route.

Bucking the Drifts

The old wedge-shaped snowplows were of little use in the
attempt to get through the drifts of packed snow in the cuts during
the past few days. With two or three engines behind one a flying
start would be picked up and the plow would be buried in the drifts
at the rate of fifty miles an hour and there they would stick, with
the chance of jumping and landing crosswise of the tracks. The
rotaries or centrifugals do the only effective work in the succession
of storms such as we have had during the past ten days, but as there
is only on rotary plow on the R.W. & O. division it has been
impossible to keep it working on the various divisions of the road.
About five such plows for the R.W.& O. system would probably be able
to do more effective work.

About Snow Drifts.

Persons who have not traveled over the line of the R.W.& O. in
winter have no conception of the snowdrifts. At Kane's bridge, just
west of the city, the snow in the cut is even with the bridge, which
is twenty-six feet above the tracks. The cut was blown full of fine
snow and when the plows came along they kept throwing up banks on
either side until they were high above the stacks of the locomotives.
Wednesday noon last as the westbound passenger train was going
between these walls of snow the vibration loosened some at the top
and it fell between the train and the wall breaking our four of five
windows in the cars.

At Red House cut it is reported that there were drifts twenty
feet deep and that the entire cut was filled with packed snow. Some
of the men who were taken out Wednesday last to work in the snow
complained bitterly. No provision had been made for feeding them and
they were kept at work steadily for twenty-six hours. They received
regular pay for the number of hours they worked.

Roadmaster Burke was no satisfied the way the men were provided
for and he notified Superintendent Moore. The result was that
yesterday morning the men went out in cabooses fitted up with stoves
and carrying a quantity of provisions, provided by the men
themselves. David Marlo had charge of the gag sent east yesterday
morning and Roadmaster Burke took charge of the gangs sent west.

Snow in Hunter's Cut

The rotary plow, with Supervisor of Track Burke in charge, went
west last night about 9:30 o'clock and at 8:30 o'clock this morning
had just reached Hannibal, a distance of twelve miles. There were
fifty shovelers in the party and the train was composed of the rotary
plow, two cabooses and four engines. Almost from the start trouble
was encountered from the great drifts that filled he cuts.

After several hours of continuous work the Kane cut was cleared
and the train proceeded. At other points on the drifts were encountered.
Before leaving the city Supervisor Burke had a stock of coffee,
bread, bologna and sandwiches put in so that the men might have
something with which to regale themselves after their battle with the

From Hannibal, Supervisor Burke and his force will push on to
Crockett's and dig out a snowplow crew which has been buried at
Hunter;s cut since Saturday night.

The plow was sent out with two engines Saturday afternoon, Conductor
Bloomingdale being in charge of the train and Engineers Finn and Van
Auken at the throttle.

As many another snow-fighting crew has done, the plow pushed
into the cut at Crockett's came to grief. At last reports the plow
and engine were buried in twenty-five feet of snow and there was no
possible chance of getting them until a shoveling party arrived. The
plow is stalled about an eighth of a mile from Crockett's station and
from reports received this morning the crew was not suffering from
cold or lack of food.

Hunter's cut is or of the most treacherous on the western
division. It is about 3,000 feet long and the snow is packed almost
solid to a height of twenty to twenty-five feet.

Trains West of Charlotte

This morning Trainmaster Halleran said that he would have the
western division open late this afternoon. He was thus sanguine, he
said, because there is not a great quantity of snow west of
Crockett's. Supervisor Burke would, said in digging out the plow at
Crocketts, have the assistance of seventy-five shovelers, as he would
pick up twenty at Hannibal and he same number at Crockett's. Mr.
Halleran said that passenger trains are now running between Charlotte
and Suspension Bridge.

The train from the east into Oswego last night was preceded by
the rotary, with Supervisor Philip Kelly and forty and forty
shovelers. The men were sent back to Watertown at midnight on a
special train.

Besides the rotary there are four other plows at work on the
R.W. & O. Each of the trains is drawn by two engines. Mr. Halleran
says that the Phoenix line the storm is most felt between Fulton and
Woodard. Unless the storm breaks out afresh the company expects to
have all trains running by tomorrow.

Movement of Trains Today.

This morning, trains were near east on the R.W. & O. at the
usual hours. Trains were also sent out over the Phoenix branch. All
trains scheduled for the west were annulled. At 10:30 o'clock today
there hadn't been a train over the R.W. & O. lines.

Down the Lackawanna

The trains on the Lackawanna railroad were about on time today.
The New York train, due at 8:35 A.M. , was only eleven minutes late,
and all the out-going trains left on time. At 12:30 o'clock
yesterday, the Lackawanna got the first train into Oswego. Up to that
time there was no railroad communication between Oswego and
elsewhere. The New York train left at 9:15 last, on time. Very little
trouble is being experienced on the Oswego and Syracuse division of
the road, and snow being found on the Syracuse and Binghamton division.

Freight Agent Taylor said today that he would have all
freight trains in and cut of this city moving today.

Situation This Afternoon

The noon train from Richland arrived about an hour late.
Passengers brought news that the main line from Richland to Rome and
north to Ogdensburg is open with trains running from thirty minutes
to an hour late. The Syracuse Northern road is also open. The
special train with the soldiers on board was hauled back from
Fernwood to Pulaski yesterday afternoon and last evening a start was
again made for Syracuse. The Phoenix and Lackawanna roads are running

There was no train from the west up to 1:30 P.M. today, but it
was said that the line would be open by evening and that all
passenger trains, due to arrive here Saturday last, will get through
by nightfall.

The Street Railroad

All roads leading to this city from the country are badly
drifted and only those who found it absolutely necessary were able to
get to town. Nothing was done in the city yesterday towards clearing
off crosswalks by officials who look after that work. The city snow
plow, however, made the usual trips about the parks and citizens
generally cleared off their sidewalks, so that by afternoon there was
no difficulty for ladies to get about, excepting at crosswalks, where
drifts had formed.

By hard work the street railway company kept its tracks open
Saturday night. The snow plow was kept moving over them constantly.
Today Manager Arnold has a gang of men engaged in opening up the
Minetto branch of the street car line.

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