Snow Removal on the M&NJ
by Peter Brill
Edited for the web by John Deserto. Reprinted from the M&NJRHS publication, The Unionville Flyer
Let us pause to admire EL 7074 and M&NJ #1 at Unionville on a sunny Saturday in January of 1963 and conjecture what this winter holds in store for us. From the collection of Harold Rasmussen
As we await the onset of the winter of 2000-2001, we carry the memories of the winter of 1993-94 fresh in our memories. For the first time in several decades the snow accumulation was of such epic proportions that the use of the #2 on numerous plow extra’s proved inadequate to keep the line open to Slate Hill. We responded by bringing the #1, who’s snow blades are lower than those on the #2, out of storage and used her as a 44 ton snow plow pushed by the #2. . This strategy abruptly ended one frigid night when the #1 froze to the rail on the LOOP track. We then played our trump card and commissioned Jim Heavy Duty Schoonmaker to bulldoze the line clear, a feat he performed twice in the course of the winter.
Over the years, there were several occasions when winter’s wrath overwhelmed the M&NJ’s capabilities. On January 29, 1948, the M&NJ borrowed O&W snow plow SP-4 and flanger R-70 at 9:20A and dispatched Work Extra 1 at 9:50 AM to work south and open up the line. M&NJ No. 1 and the snow plow constituted the work extra. The plow derailed twice east of Washington Street and the M&NJ concluded that No. 1 did not have sufficient power to push the plow. The M&NJ then borrowed O&W W Class
2-8-0 No. 320 at 12:05 PM and at 12:16 PM dispatched Extra 320 to work south with the plow and the flanger. Extra 320 successfully plowed all the way to M&U Jct. and this was the only time the M&U or the M&NJ ever borrowed an O&W steamer as big as a W Class
This was not the first use of an outside contractor for snow removal. In the 1960’s. the M&NJ utilized a man from the local gravel pits to plow out the line with a large front end loader.
On one occasion however in January of 1963, the line had been closed for several days by accumulated snow and the train could not venture below Agway. The decision was made to contact the Erie Lackawanna at Port Jervis and arrange for an E-8 to plow out the line in time for a resumption of service on Monday. The rational was that the 6 axles of the E-8 would distribute the weight sufficiently for the relatively light rail of the M&NJ. EL responded quickly by dispatching F-3A No. 7074 at 9:00 am on a Saturday morning. Engineer A.C. Dutton and a fireman, brought the F unit down the Third track onto the M&NJ and then ran to Unionville plowing all the way. The snow on Creeden Hill stopped them dead and to this day their are rail burns near DeVries crossing, mute testimony to the battle that was waged as the F-3 kept grinding away against the snow pack. The #1 followed the 7074 to Unionville and then towed her back to Middletown. The only known picture of this appears at the top of this page. This operation was never repeated and interestingly, the M&NJ was never billed by the EL for the services of its engine and crew. However, when a certain EL local official retired at a later date, there were a number of M&NJ officials at his retirement party.
The Erie Lackawanna’s DW yard in Middletown has a very Christmas Card look to it in this undated photo by Ray Brown. The GP 35 is sitting very near the West Main St. crossing while the SW and Dunmore caboose are closer to the EL freight house.