Northern Pacific 642

Mann McCann Ballast Spreader


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The Northern Pacific purchased five new Mann McCann ballast spreaders from the St. Paul Foundry in 1921. These spreaders were used during the summer months to pull ballast back up onto the roadbed and during the winter to plow snow from the tracks.

Mann McCann spreader in operation on Stampede Pass, 1953.  The photo was taken between tunnels 3 and 4 in front of the old Stampede Depot.  Photo by Joe Caron, retired NP telegrapher of Sumner, WA (deceased 2006)

Snow was pushed from one track of the double track line by the Mann McCann spreader.  Following this the rotary snowplow was used to throw the snow off the second track.  The Mann McCann could accomplish its task quicker and the rotary could finish the job.

Note the Rotary plow with the Mann McCann spreader in the background.  Photo courtesy of Rick Leach.  Taken at Martin 1/26/43 by Al Farrow

NP 642 (BN 972602 after the merger) was used on Stampede Pass for snow removal until approximately 1985.  It also served as part of a wrecking train according to one of the old operators.  After its retirement it sat unused on a spur track just off of Meade Avenue in Yakima, WA.  Acquisition was sought by the Yakima Valley Rail & Steam Museum Association.  In July of 1996 the spreader was purchased from the Burlington Northern for $1,000.  The Washington Central Railroad donated the shipping and moved it to Toppenish.

BN 972602 is the last remaining Northern Pacific Mann McCann spreader. It is currently on display at the Northern Pacific Railway Museum in Toppenish.  Restoration was started in August 2002. Plans are to return it to it's steam era appearance.

The five spreaders were numbered  NP 641- 645.  Our records do not reveal the fate of the 641.  Burlington Northern Railway acquired NP 642, 643 and 645 with the NP merger in 1970.  NP 642 survives as above.  NP 643 was renumbered BN 972603 and 645 became BN 972604 between 1974 and 1977.  We do not have record of the dates of scrapping of these units.  NP 644 was acquired by the Spokane, Portland and Seattle Railway in 1945.  It was dismantled in 1954.


  • Photos of NP 642 or BN 972602 in use for the web site.

  • Drawings or operating information

  • Any photos or information about the Mann McCann spreaders

  • Donations are needed to help pay for the restoration. Go to the Membership Page for donation information.

  • Volunteers to help with the restoration.  

      If you have any of these please contact Doug Shearer at (509) 865-5019

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bn972602-3.jpg (29K)

For further photos see the following pages:

  NP 642 Photo Pg 1                 NP 642 Photo Pg 2