Internal communications have never been the railroad industry's forte', but once in a blue moon something comes along that is an absolute masterpiece of written illumination, such as the SP Roseville Division Special Notice #4 re Snow Service distributed by Superintendent D.J. Seil in the winter of 1994.

Our copy came from a very large stack that we found not at Truckee, but in the Caltrain San Jose register room. This discovery tickled us: San Jose, California gets a dusting of snow about once in every two decades, or so. In other words, it's been awhile since SP has called out a Jordan Spreader to battle a snow blockade on the hill to Gilroy.

Equally funny to us was that this tome was issued by Superintendent Don Seil. Let's just say that, after attending a new-hire switchman class with him, we doubted that Mr. Seil had penned such a useful collection of information. We could see him ordering that stack of notices sent to San Jose, however.

The mystery of authorship remained until SP/UP Conductor Daryl Stinchfield came forward. Daryl, a former "K-Streeter" (what they called Sacramento terminal guys during the late Pleistocene era), says that, back in 1987, Trainmaster Jerry Nester gave him a day's pay to draw up the original document. Special Notice #4 was, in Daryl's words, a "resurrection" of the original. You'll find both permutations here.
Thanks, Daryl!

Once you finish perusing this page, check out a Wx4 friend's photo essay of his April, 1969 trip through the Cascades and Donner.
The call that never came:

Jordan spreaders are versatile tools. They ditch, spread ballast, plow snow. Above, steam-locomotive-headlight-equipped Jordan Spreader #MW 4040 sits in the San Jose Car Shops in December, 1966, possibly awaiting the call to clear the snows over the "pass" at Morgan Hill (named after a human, not a geological feature) to Gilroy. Below is a heavy* snow that hit San Jose in early 1977, one of two that fell in the city during that decade. Perhaps GP9 3006 - which appears to be waiting for the lineup from College Park Tower to back down to Cahill depot - was acually in the process of being requisitioned to shove the 4040, or a sister, down to Morgan Hill to clear a likely 2" accumulation from the tracks. Then again...probably not.

*Heavy snow defined in San Jose terms: snow that sticks to the ground for more than a minute.

Special Notice #4

NEW 6-15-24: jpegs of guide replaced with pdf - click on image to download

Original 1987 Flanger Service Guide

7-3-24: Ten 1899-1907 snow shed drawings, both original blueprints & inverted copies - click on image

Shasta Division Archves
(left) SPMW 208 takes a rest at Sparks during the summer of 1965. She was still there in 1994, according to Special Notice #4, although by then she was electric-powered, using juice from an F-7B. On March 2, 1969, she was the last SP rotary to operate under steam, when she cleared the McCloud River Railroad's line along the flanks of Mt. Shasta.
(below left) Dawn at Truckee, May 3, 1980; Daryl Stinchfield.
(below right) Norden, circa 1970; courtesy Bruce MacGregor

Rotaries between Soda Springs & Norden, 4-1-82; Brian Jennison slide, Wx4 Collection
All spiffed up & ready to go: Jordans MW 4030 & 4034
at Truckee, 11-1980. photographer unknown, Wx4 collection

Old and New Methods of Fighting Snow
PDF of 1888 article
On January 7, 1870, an act to fund the promotion of a "locomotive steam plow" was introduced in the California State Senate. Beyond wondering about exactly what people had in mind, one wonders if this bill was well-received, or if the honeymoon was already over between the Central Pacific and the people of California. The inclusion of agricultural people on the Board of Judges may indicate that the bill arose from that group, but just as llikely this may have been a front employed by CP to milk state coffers. The inclusion of "one prominent practical farmer" gives a fair likelihood, however, that agriculture people were included not only for political advantage, but their perceived expertise on plows. Interestingly, A.J. Stevens patented a farm plow at one time.

The winters of the 1890's were not kind to railroaders. At right we see a rotary passing Shasta Springs resort above Dunsmuir in the winter of 1895, about five years after the place opened. SP Co. photo? Wx4 collection

The weather in Sparks was balmy enough this winter day for the SP switch crew to line up for a photo.
ca.1910 postcard