MANN McCANN BALLAST AND SNOW SPREADER NP 642

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 Meed Avenue in Yakima, WA. 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.

To the left the 642 makes the first pass and clears 2 tracks in one pass.   The spreader is good if the depth of the snow is shallow.  It is also more economical to run the Mann McCann as it takes much less labor and unlike the rotary snow plow does not require additional coal for operation as compared to a rotary snowplow.

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.

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.  The 642 has just completed the first pass and now leaves the last track to be cleared by the rotary.   If you look closely at the picture on the right you can see the Mann Mcann in the bottom right corner.

In the above picture the Mann McCann makes the first pass pushing the snow onto the second track.   The rotary then blows the snow off to the side.