March 13, 1947 in the Palmerston Observer
With the worst storm within memory, more than a week old, the Canadian National Railways are still struggling to free the Palmerston Division from snow, and there are still many hours of battling ahead of them.
Last Sunday, the snowgang managed to open the lines to Owen Sound and Wiarton. It had 2 big engines on the plow and this was followed by a third engine with a coach, loaded with some 75 shovelers, who were called out time and again to free the plow and engines from the drifts. The plow itself was off the rails on two occasions, and on another, the tender of one of the plow engines left the rails. This crew left Palmerston early Sunday morning and worked steadily to free the lines, arriving back in Palmerston late Monday evening.
The Durham and Southampton lines are still blocked.
Work of freeing the Durham branch started on Monday when crews and equipment were liberated from other lines for the work, but progress is slow.
Wednesday evening, they had got as far as Mount Forest and they had plenty of locomotives and over 150 shovelers. The technique of the shovelers, in itself a story, where they have to move snow higher than the trains. Great steps are shoveled into the banks and rows of shovelers “on each step” keep throwing the snow from one step to the next until it is finally over the bank. In places, the steps ran up to 5 tiers of shovelers and presented a truly remarkable sight.
On the Southampton line. the plows were last reported to the “Observer” at Turners just out of Paisley, and the going was very heavy. Officials would not predict when these last 2 lines would be brought into operation.
Meanwhile, express and freight handling facilities here are taxed to the limit, handling the accumulated merchandise, plus all the additional re-routed from trucks when the highways were first to close and last to open. No one could predict when this situation would clear either, but all concerned were working like trojans trying to get the situation in hand.
A blower-type plow was imported from Quebec and pressed into service here, and was of some value here while it stood up to the punishment. This plow has its own boiler working on 200 pounds of steam pressure. This drives a powerful steam engine, turning a huge fan-like apparatus that eats into the snow and hurls it into the fields. The plow is slow, three to five miles an hour while working but it is effective but the Palmerston snow was too much for it, and on Monday, it blew a cylinder head at Paisley and had to be sent in for repairs. Roy McCreight and Bill Snider were on the plow that was smashed at Ethel last week and they walked the entire distance from Ethel to Palmerston, some 23 miles and went out on other plows to battle drifts.
Bill had his army training to carry him through, but Roy with his over 200 pounds was near bushed. His square dance training must have helped, though, for the next day saw them on a plow with 4 engines, shoving it, in an endeavour to open the Kincardine line. This was on Thursday last and they were going through a cut north of Wingham. The cut was peculiar in that the weight of snow was practically on one side of the plow. This terrific weight smashed a rail, and at near 40 miles an hour, the nose of the plow dug into the frozen clay bank. The plow went one direction, the engine immediately behind it, the other, its tender the other way, and the second engine following, until the plow, 2 locomotives, and their tenders lay zig-zagged up the cut, all half-buried in snow. No casualties were incurred but the line was held up for some days and considerable damage done to equipment.
Highways were slower opening. County roads were plowed in good time and many devious routes were devised by truckers to get their produce rolling without the use of highways. However, on Tuesday of this week, the highway was opened to Stratford on our west and Teviotdale on the east. On Wednesday of this week, the highway was opened to Arthur and it was possible to get to Toronto via Guelph, but all highways are narrow, and traveling on the highways unless very important, is certainly ill-advised. The Orangeville Road is still blocked and there is no forecast as to when it will be open, though the Department of Highways may now be able to concentrate their equipment on this stretch.
Tuesday night a large highway snowblower was stationed in Palmerston and it may even now be working on the Arthur-Orangeville Road, though all plows of this type are slow- progressing vehicles.