With the recent significant snowfalls that have blanketed the Nutmeg State in the early parts of 2015, railroads have had to run extra trains to clear their lines of snow. Normally tourist lines would not need to do this since they’re typically spring/summer/fall operations. But the Valley Railroad in Essex, Connecticut is a bit different – they run a special train on Presidents’ Day Weekend – the Eagle Flyer – and with a large base of snow on the ground, they ran their century-old plow up the line to move the white stuff to the side.
On January 29, 2015, the Valley Railroad coupled their GE 80 ton centercab locomotive to their 100+ year old former Hoosac Tunnel & Wilmington Railroad double ended plow, with the aim of moving the snow from the tracks between Essex and Haddam. This move is in preparation of the upcoming Eagle Flyer trips, which take place over Presidents’ Day Weekend each year.
I was able to photograph the plow moving up the line between Essex Station and Broadway in Haddam – about a mile south of where the crew would finish their plowing duties. Here’s the set of photos – 24 in all – showing the plows progression through four towns along the Connecticut River. As always, you can purchase prints (unwatermarked) – just click the thumbnail below, and then hit the “BUY” button.
The 2015 Valley Railroad Plow Extra leaves Essex Station on their way to clear the line to the north.
A 100 year old plow leads an extra to clear the Valley Railroad’s line
The Valley Railroad plow extra heads north over the Old Deep River Road crossing in Centerbrook
The Valley Railroad plow extra continues to push snow north through Centerbrook
The plow continues north towards milepost 5
The Valley Railroad Plow Extra heads past milepost 5 in Centerbrook
The former HT&W plow continues to move snow off of the tracks through Deep River.
Today’s Valley Railroad Plow Extra crosses over Essex Street in Deep River, Connecticut.
The plow extra moves snow from the line, making the rails visible again.
The Plow Extra slows down at Deep River station as some members of the press cover the move. On had was a photojournalist from the Hartford Courant, as well as WFSB Channel 3 anchor Mark Zinni and his cameraman.
The plow shoves snow through Deep River yard
The Plow Extra pauses in Deep River.
Shoving snow across a grade crossing at Deep River Landing
The Plow Extra continues north after passing through Tate’s Cut in Deep River
After crossing over the Dock Road grade crossing, the plow extra moves up the slight grade as they approach Ferry Road in Chester.
The plow extra passing the Hadlyme shanty in Chester.
Continuing to clear the line to the north
Sometimes the flangeways at a grade crossing are caked with ice. When that happens, manual labor needs to take over in chipping that ice out – ice that can easily derail the century-old plow.
Valley Railroad foreman Rob Bradway works on a flangeway at the Chisolm Marina Road crossing.
With the flangeways clear, the plow extra continues north.
The plow extra emerges from the trees at the location known as Broadway in Haddam
Continuing to move snow off of the tracks at Broadway in Haddam
A wider look at the plow clearing snow at Broadway. The white surface on the far side of the trees is the frozen Connecticut River.
The Plow Extra makes their way north towards Goodspeed Station in Haddam.