Five Mann McCann spreaders were built by the St Paul Foundry in 1921 for the Northern Pacific. They were used during the summer months to pull ballast back up onto the roadbed and during the winter to plow snow from the tracks.
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 Mead Avenue in Yakima, WA. In July of 1996 the spreader was purchased from the Washington Central Railroad for $1,000. The same railroad donated the shipping and moved it to Toppenish.
NP 642 is the last remaining Northern Pacific Mann McCann spreader. It is currently on display at the Northern Pacific Railway Museum in Toppenish. Recently we were awarded a grant from the NPRHA to restore the aging Mann McCann. The cylinders are still functional and was operational for a NPRHA convention in 2014. We intend to restore her to how she looked when she belonged to the Northern Pacific.
The 642 performed very well in shallow snow, as it was economical to run compared to the rotary snowplow. When the snow got deep 642 would bog down under the load. Then the crews brought in NP10, the rotary assigned to plow Stampede Pass. There were years where the rotary was never used, as the Mann McCann was able to keep up with snow removal. To learn more about rotarys, visit our sister museum, Northwest Railway Museum where the NP10 is displayed.
But when the snow gets too deep a rotary is called in to remove the snow. The rotary blades first cut the snow then blow the snow out a chute that could either be rotated left or right. The blade is turned by a steam boiler of its own and does not require steam from a locomotive. However the rotary blower is not self propelled and requires an assist from a locomotive. A single steam boiler could not provide enough steam to both propel the locomotive and run the snow-blades. Albeit the extra cost of coal and the additional man were justified in heavy snows. In some cases the Mann McCann and NP10 were used together as demonstrated to the left and below.
Although the rotary-locomotive combo required 4 men it still was the last resort choice. As long as the snow is not over the cab the rotary can handle it, albeit slow. The Mann McCann can clear shallow snow much faster and more economically not to mention that it could clear a wider path in one pass.
Now the 642 has just completed the first pass and now leaves the last track to be cleared by rotary 10. If you look closely at the picture on the right you can see the Mann Mcann in the bottom right corner. photos by Joe Carron
Left and above, another example of the 642 and 10 working together.