Union Pacific Rotary Plows

From TrainSpottingWorld, for Rail fans everywhere

My series of photos was taken on March 09, 2007 near Donner Pass in California. The name of the town(if that) is called Soda Springs.




The photos in this railfanning report were taken on the Union Pacific Roseville Subdivision MP 190 thru 189 in Soda Springs, California.

This line over Donner Pass was established in 1869 by the Central Pacific Railway and later purchased by the Southern Pacific near 1884. The Union Pacific bought out the SP on Sept 11, 1996.

The rotary plows in these photos were orignally built by the Southern Pacific around the start of the 1900's and were steam powered. The front unit is SPMW #209. They got rebuilt in their mid 1950's to run on electric traction motors. There are 4 traction motors in each plow that turn the fan. The fan typically turns near 180-200 RPM.

The F7B unit behind the plows are the primary power for the fan and supplies steam to help keep ice build up down. The F7B is commonly referred to as a 'Snail' because it has no traction motors to propel it. The primary power (center units)for this consist was a set of yellow General Electric C44ACCTE (C= 3 axle per truck, 44=4400hp, AC=Alternator, CTE= Computerized Tractive Effort) with UNION PACIFIC markings,5800 series.

The last time these rotary beasts were used on Donner was 1993. There are less than 3 people on the West coast that know how to operate these things and the primary goal of this event was to try to train new crews in its operation. It also had a film crew aboard. The video will be available thru BA Productions and I have not clue to when it will be released.

Yes I got hit by numerous snow balls a split second after the shot ! The snow was nearly 4 feet deep and I was in sneakers and shorts. Needless to say I got cut up legs and soaking feet. The snow that falls over Donner (Sierra Nevada Mountain Range) has a unique name to it, they call it Sierra Cement because it sets up like true cement.

Date/time Location Train number Direction Photo Spotter Notes
2007-03-09 Donner Pass, near Soda Springs CA, USA westbound UP Rotary Plow at Soda springs.jpg KevO Roseville rotaries waiting to cut snow
2007-03-09 Donner Pass, near Soda Springs CA, USA westbound UP Rotary snow plows near Soda Springs cut snow.jpg KevO Roseville rotaries cut snow

See also