Snow Storm

With the latest snow storm of Saturday, Dec 16, 2000, I'm cause to remember the time in the winter of 1971-72 when Soo Line Jordan Spreader W-80 took a "Wild Ride" out on the Greenwood Line.

I recall this because today's "storm" started out in much the same manner as the storm that caused W-80 to be called out to plow the Greenwood Line. It started out a gentle, though thick, falling snow. As the day wore on, it got heavier, then the wind picked up behind it. By 1:00 p.m. that day it was a Full-blown Blizzard. We got out of school early that day.

As it happens, this was a Wednesday, as I recall, and the Greenwood Line was still being operated three days per week, also as I recall it. This day, #57, the local that ran to Medford & out to Greenwood, went north to Abbotsford FIRST that day. They had to have, as you shall see. Upon returning to Marshfield, they picked up their Greenwood cars and started out to Greenwood. I think the Train was 10 cars long that night.

The Engine: GP-9 #2400, caboose (I think) 275 or 99109, I don't remember. The Geep I KNOW was 2400, as I have the newspaper clipping of what happened next.

Train speed was 10 mph. The train made it's usual slow progress out to Loyal, bucking a couple deep drifts along the way, until they into a drift it couldn't surmount at 10 mph., so the train backed up to make a "Run" to break through the drift.

Oh, they got through alright---and almost took off at cross purposes to the route they were supposed to be on!!!!

Dad was called out at about 10 p.m. to go out to pick up the train crew & bring them back to Marshfield. (If the local had gone out to Greenwood first, they would have been at this spot at around 5:30 p.m., using their normal starting time of 3 p.m.) Since the Train was out, literally, in the "Middle Of No Where" I can imagine Dad being very nervous driving the Soo Line automobile down unplowed Township roads in the middle of the night through blowing snow!!! He found them; the train crew had to walk with their gear back to the crossing about 1/2 of a mile.

The next two days were involved with pulling the in-bound train BACK to Marshfield & re-railing the 2400. Ironically, it SNOWED again.

I forget---I think it was like a week before the officials in Stevens Point made up their minds to put Jordan Spreader W-80 on the Greenwood Line to clean it out. When the Plow Extra finally ran, the Plow Train had barely entered the Greenwood Line---the caboose was barely clear of the main line switch in Marshfield---before the first of a series of SEVERAL (35!!!) derailments took place: W-80 struck a broken tie, sticking up above the web of the rail, putting W-80 off. After a half-hour or so, W-80 was re-railed, moving forward again, when they struck ANOTHER obstruction, putting W-80 off AGAIN.

By the time W-80 made MP 5, yes, it had been put off the rails 35 times!!! "My God", the Roadmaster, a gentleman named Martini, told my dad, "Every crossing was an adventure!"

Soo Line eventually hired a bulldozer to plow ahead of W-80, while W-80 followed at a safe distance behind, wings spread, plow down, flanging. In between the bulldozer & W-80 was the Section Crew with picks chopping Ice from out between the flangeways at EACH Crossing. It took about 3 days to plow between Marshfield & Loyal in this manner.

By the time the Greenwood Line was "open for business", some FORTY cars had piled up in Marshfield waiting to be taken out to Loyal & Greenwood, not to mention the cars sitting out there waiting to come back. As it happened, the train had to double out of Marshfield to Loyal, and with track speeds at 10 mph, it consumed the Train Crew's entire 12 hour shift just doing the doubling to Loyal. Hence, NOTHING got moved in Loyal OR Greenwood ---- but that's another Story.

From the time of the derailment of 2400 until the first train out to Loyal after the line was cleaned out it took close to 5 weeks before another train made it out there, and that was the train loaded down with 40 cars!!

Keith Meacham      

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