Steam Engines and Snowplows
The winter of 1932 was long and cold. Thick, white snow covered station roofs and railroad tracks. Usually the engines don't mind the snow, but this year the snow seemed to refuse to melt. It was mid-March, and there was well over a foot of snow on the ground showing no sign of melting. One cold morning the engines were waiting in the roundhouse for the workmen to come and light their fires. One of the doors had been left open ajar that night, and now an icicle hung from Hudson's nose. A drift of snow blown in from outside had settled on his wheels.
"Ugh!" he grunted. "I hate snow!"
"Don't worry Hudson," Richard soothed. "Snow doesn't usually last this long. It'll all melt before long."
"It doesn't look like it!" Hudson huffed.
"My engineer says there's even more snow on the way!" Gilbert added.
"I don't know why you're all so put off by it," Harry said. "I like snow! I think it makes everything look magical!"
Sullivan stared. "You're welcome to it then!" he huffed. "It just makes a cold, wet mess!"
When Sullivan was soon in steam and moved out of the roundhouse to collect his first freight train. As he got ready to leave he was fitted with a large wedge-shaped snowplow to help him clear away the new fallen snow from the track.
"Brrrr!" he shivered as the wind picked up. "Hurry up please!" When at last the plow was attached, Sullivan was eager to get moving.
His journey was slower than usual because of the snow, but Sullivan managed to keep good time all the same. His snowplow cut through the snowdrifts with ease and Sullivan began to enjoy himself.
"Maybe Harry's right," he thought to himself. "Snow might not be so bad after all! The trees do look beautiful!"
But as Sullivan moved into the mountains the snow began falling harder. The drifts were deeper too, requiring Sullivan to use all his effort to clear the line without slowing down too much. Before long Sullivan began to lose sight of the line in front of him as well.
"We'll have to slow down," his engineer said. "It's too dangerous to keep these speeds up when we can't see past your smokebox!" Sullivan wasn't pleased about slowing down, but agreed all the same.
Visibility grew steadily worse as the journey continued.
"If I slow down anymore, I'll be late!" Sullivan complained. But there was nothing he could do. His engineer kept a steady pace as flakes snow pelted Sullivan's boiled. Suddenly Sullivan's engineer saw a large drift of snow across the line.
"We'll have to charge it!" he told Sullivan. "We won't get through otherwise." So Sullivan sped up, charging the snow bank.
There was a wump as Sullivan hit the snow bank, plow-first. The drift was deeper than he expected, and he found he was unable to push through the tightly packed snow.
"Oh dear!" Sullivan groaned. "Now I'll be late for sure!"
"Come on Sullivan," his driver said. "Let's pull back and try again!" Sullivan tried his hardest, but the rails were icy and his train was heavy. He pushed his hardest, but his wheels just spun on the icy rails. Try as he might, he couldn't move the train backwards or forwards. All he could do was wait cold and cross, until help arrived. A message went down the line.
Soon Baldwin arrived with a rotary snowplow, blowing snow from the track. As he passed by, snow flew from the plow and covered poor Sullivan from smokebox to tender. Sullivan was cross, but he was too cold to say anything.
Before long the line was cleared, and Sullivan was free. His lips were blue and he had frost on his eyebrows. He continued his journey cold, damp, and miserable. He was even more disenchanted by snow than when he began. He longed for spring to come and melt it all.
His story was at the roundhouse before him and the other engines thought it was a great joke!
"Imagine sticking in the snow like that!" Harry chuckled. "I never let snow get the better of me!"
"You didn't see that snow bank!" Sullivan retorted. "It must have been a mile long and fifteen feet high-"
"It was not!" Baldwin interjected.
"I'd like to see you take on the snow Harry." Sullivan seethed in a quiet voice.
"Oh, I can handle snow!" Harry boasted. "I'm from Minnesota! We get more snow there in a week than you get all year. Snow is never a problem for me!" Sullivan mumbled something that Harry couldn't make out.
Next morning Harry was doing his usual switching work in the yard. It had stopped snowing by this time and most of the tracks were clear.
"Snow never bothers me!" Harry chuckled to himself. "I don't know how this yard functioned in the winter before I arrived!" He went about his work thinking about what he would say to Sullivan when they next met.
Harry was nearly finished with his days work. He was moving some empty cars into a siding alongside the big station building. Sullivan was taking on water in the next siding over.
"Hello Sullivan!" Harry chortled. "I'm right on time! Snow never gets the better of a reliable engine like me!" He pushed his cars into the siding and let out a shrill peep, peep on his whistle. The sound of Harry's whistle made the snow shift on the station roof. With a rumble and a whoooosh! the snow cascaded from the sloped roof and Harry disappeared in a plume of snow.
"Ha ha ha!"Sullivan chuckled. "Snow never gets the better of you, eh? Let me know when my train is ready!" and he puffed away.
Harry's response was muffled by the snow, but Sullivan didn't think it was very polite.
It took some time to dig Harry out of the snow bank. He returned to the roundhouse that night cold, tired, and miserable. Sullivan arrived soon after.
"I'm sorry I was boastful." Harry apologized. "It seems I don't know everything about snow after all!"
"That's alright," Sullivan smiled again. "It seems we both learned the cold truth about snow today, didn't we?"