Snow On The McCloud River Railroad

A Daunting Task Ahead **

The McCloud River Railroad in Northern California is often seen covered in white.  Nothing adds to the isolation of a deep pine forest, than a ten or twenty foot layer of snow.  In the first few years of the railroad’s existence , it would shut down for winter but soon each year the men of the McCloud ventured bravely out into the wilds and battled the snows with usually no more than a bucker plow or Johnson spreader. Crews would gallantly climb aboard the plow train and ride along until the plow had backed up enough snow that it literally stalled the train, then the crews would jump off and shovel the snow out of the way. Some times the cuts made by the plows were as deep as the engines were tall and they were completely engulfed in their trenches with nothing but smoke and steam emerging from the top to show they were there.

     On occasion when the wedge and pusher plows  were not up to the job the Southern Pacific loaned one of there Rotary plows to do the work.

    In February of 1938 One such snow storm stranded a log train at Car A. With several cars derailed and little hope of pulling themselves out, the train crew sent to Pondosa for help. Help arrived through 19ft snow (On a make shift sled) from Pondosa and after the crew was revived with food and water, the train was re-railed and they begin to dig their way out. One unfortunate fellow, a brakeman named Frank Green slipped while working and fell under the wheels of number 14 and died. The workers gently set aside his body and worked on. They finally made it to Pondosa, which was still cut off from the rest of the road. A radio station in Los Angeles was asked to broadcast the message that a relief train was on the way and in the little town of Pondosa the broadcast was heard, (more than 800 miles away) on battery powered radio in the community. After all the effort, blood sweat and tears that was put into this rescue effort, the town of Pondosa was reached, two days later the temperature rose dramatically and the conditions which stranded a train and a town, no longer existed.

Click here to see an especially fine collection of snow plow post cards from 1909**

click on pictures to enlarge

* Image Courtesy of Dirk Rose

** Image Courtesy Charles Russell

**Images Courtesy Of The McCloud Heritage Junction Museum Please see interchange page for more info on this.

*** images from post cards or original media