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never heard a like reproach addressed to Trollope, and yet, to our mind, Trollope's pictures of English character are far more unfavorable than Thackeray's. But we have already exceeded so far the ordinary limits of articles in this review that all such corrections must be left to our readers.
From Longman's Magazine. "SNOW BUCKING" IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS.
IN the early part of 1884, business took me to the Western States of America; it was business of great importance, requiring to be completed within a fixed period which expired at the end of the month of February. My destination was a town called Bellevue, in the State of Idaho. I left England in January, in company with my brother, with instructions to make my way there as speedily as possible, and the beginning of February found us travelling westward over the Union Pacific Railway, We passed Chicago and Omaha, crossed the highest point of the Rocky Mountains at Sherman, on the U.P., and commenced our downward course on the further side. Thirty-six hours after leaving Omaha, we were turned out one morning at Granger Junction, on to the Oregon Short Line. That day our troubles began. Very soon after we started the snow began to fall heavily, and about midday, our engine, which, like all American locomotives, had a pilot in front, was ploughing through eighteen inches to two feet of snow. The term pilot may be new to some of my readers, so I may explain that it is a pointed framework of wood fixed in front of the engine, the point close to the rails, and the back as high as the frame of the engine. The lower part is shod with iron plates, about two feet wide. It runs so close to the rails as to be able to clear away all light obstructions, and snow, when not too deep. Although a more formidable affair than the cow-catcher, familiar to us in illustrations of American locomotives, it cannot deal with really deep snow, and therefore, when our conductor found the engine beginning to throw up clouds of snow in front, he began to feel uneasy and pulled the cord communicating with the engine whistle, as a signal to put on more steam. This being done, and the snow having moderated a little, we got through to Pocatello, the junction for the Utah and Northern
line, and from there to Shoshone, a small town in Idaho Territory, only fifty miles from our destination. On our arrival there we found that the snowstorm of the previous day had produced disastrous effects upon the Hailey branch, along which we desired to travel. This branch is laid across an undulating plain, and eventually finds its way into the Sawtooth range; but before reaching them it passes through a series of small rock cuttings. The line being new, these cuttings had not been protected, as is customary on mountain lines in America, with snow sheds or fences, and the snow sweeping across the plain had filled up all these cuttings, and in some cases lay six feet deep over the top. The traffic over this new line, through a thinly populated district, is, of course, small, and consequently the company were only running one train a day each way. This train used to go up in the morning to Hailey, the terminus, fifty-six miles from Shoshone, and return in the evening, and it was the only rollingstock available. The previous day, while we were running through the snow between Granger and Pocatello, the storm had caught the train up at the far end of the line, and there it was still. Nobody at that time had any idea how deep the snow was on the branch, for at Shoshone it only lay about two feet deep; so the officials in charge of the unfortunate train came in for a good deal of abuse for not rushing through the snow while it was light and fresh fallen, and thus keeping the line open.
Great was our wrath at the detention. We had travelled more than six thousand miles, were almost within sight of our journey's end, and yet found ourselves shut up at a little wayside junction, cooling our heels in the snow, with the date fixed for the expiration of our contract rapidly approaching. We therefore set to work to use the telegraph wire. First we began sending telegrams to Bellevue ; but this did not last long, for at one o'clock on the day after we arrived at Shoshone we were informed that the wire in that direction was broken, which increased our perplexity. We asked the clerk, or operator as he is called, how near he could get to Bellevue, and upon his saying he could get through to Tikura, a station some twenty-six miles from Shoshone, and consequently half-way to Bellevue, we asked him if he could not forward our messages there, and endeavor to get a messenger to take them on snowshoes. His answer was characteristic: "Well, I don't know
as there's any one's can go. You see, there was only two men lived there, and one shot the other, so there's only one left, and he is the telegraph operator, so he can't go." On further inquiry we found that Tikura, which we fondly imagined to be a village, consisted of (a) the telegraph office and railway station (a small wooden hut), and (b) a canvas dwelling, euphemistically described as a saloon and store, inhabited by the victim, "Major " Cunningham, and his wife. Needless to say
the telegraph operator, and ascertain what prospect there was of release. At last we were aroused one morning by a messenger bringing a special telegram to us from Mr. Doddridge, the superintendent of the Oregon Short Line, to the following effect: "I will arrive at Shoshone with a snow outfit to-morrow morning, and clear the branch to Hailey in the afternoon." Great was our rejoicing; but we had yet to find out what a vain boast the latter part of the message was.
We rose early and packed up, and about nine o'clock the "snow outfit" steamed in.
that the latter was the cause of the shooting. The major, suspecting the telegraph operator of paying too much attention to the lady, went for him with a Winchester The snow-train was made up of six rifle, but his aim being defective, the other vehicles. First came the snow-plow itself man found his opportunity, and returned (I write this word as it is written in Amer. the fire with damaging effect. The in- ica). This is an enormous plow of sheetjured husband had to be sent to the hos- iron, exactly resembling the ploughshare pital at Hailey, whence dire stories came of our ordinary agricultural plough, exof the threats of what he would do to the cepting that, instead of the nose being amorous operator when he recovered - pointed, it is brought down to a horizontal threats which I believe he has since car-knife-edge in front, a little wider than the ried into execution.
rails, which cuts under the snow and lifts
bolted on to the leading engine (one of the heaviest passenger engines, with eight wheels), completely covering the front of it, with the smoke-stack just peeping out of the top of the plow, which was consequently some thirteen or fourteen feet from the ground. This engine weighed about forty tons. Then came two large goods-engines with ten wheels, about fifty tons each, and behind them two cabooses, or, as we should call them, goods-vans, containing about fifty men with picks and shovels. The cabooses were fitted up with a view to all contingencies, bunks being arranged along the sides like the berths of a steamer, with large chests of provisions stowed away underneath, in case of our being snowed up. There was a stove in each caboose, similar to our hotel stove, the effect of which must be felt to be imagined. Last came the superintendent's private car, containing living. room, sleeping-room, with four berths, and kitchen. Mr. Doddridge had a most excellent servant, a first-rate cook, and he made us so comfortable during our stay on board his car that we were almost inclined to regret that the snow was not worse, bad though it proved to be.
For more than a week did we stay chaf-it as the plow goes along. This plow is ing in Shoshone. Amusement there was none. The drinking saloons we did not care to frequent. Our hotel only had one small room, where everybody sat, the at mosphere of which was far from wholesome owing to the manner in which it was heated. A large iron globe-shaped stove was set in the centre of the room, and fed from time to time with evil-smelling sul phurous coal. A few minutes after this coal was put on it gave off a quantity of gas, which would now and then explode with a report like a pistol, blow the door of the stove open, and fill the room with horrible smoke. The next phase was that the fire burnt up fiercely, heated the stove red hot, and drove us out into the open air, where the temperature was below zero. Very shortly after this, we came back to find the stove almost out, and the room nearly as cold as the outer air. More coal was piled on, and the process began again. In the evening, when there were more people sitting in the room, it was a little better attended to, and was kept constantly at about the red-hot stage, so that by getting into a corner of the room near a draughty window, and keeping one's self turning about, so as to get different parts of the body alternately roasted and cooled, we managed to preserve a happy medium of temperature. In the daytime we loafed about, sometimes dropping into the drug store, the most respectable establishment in the town, chatting to our fellow passengers, or into the railway office to bully
The snow-train did not stay at Shoshone longer than was necessary for tak ing in coal and water, and we started off. Mr. Doddridge had only taken one or two besides ourselves, and the rest of the snow-bound passengers followed in the ordinary train about two miles behind.
At first there was only a light coating of snow over the line, about a foot deep, for during the last few days of our detention there had been a slight thaw which had the effect of reducing the depth. It was proved, however, later on, that in places where the snow lay to a great depth this thaw had only consolidated the banks and made them more difficult to pierce. For the moment, therefore, we flew along at a great pace, the plow throwing up the snow on each side like a fountain. About twenty miles from Shoshone we heard the driver on the plow engine give a loud whistle as a sign that trouble was approaching, and a few minutes later we felt | a slight jerk, the plow having encountered a bank a little deeper than the rest. The plow made light of it, and away we went faster than before. After a while the little jerks became more frequent, and at last we felt the progress of the train momentarily arrested. Before we had time to think, she forged ahead, though seemingly with difficulty, and with another effort cleared herself. The bank was short, but deeper than we had yet gone through, for the snow came up to the windows as we passed through the cutting made by the plow. Several times this happened, and each time the sensation became more exciting. It felt almost as if the train were a living thing, going at the snow as a hunter goes at a fence; indeed, no other simile will adequately express what we felt when our train plunged at the banks, burst through them, and dashed on with redoubled speed.
the plow projected but very little. Standing in front of the engine, we could almost touch the top of the smoke-stack. The drift was not a long one, the plow had actually pierced through the deepest part, and another half minute would have enabled her to get through, but the effort had been too great. There was no doubt that the next run would get us through. Now was the turn of the men. As we got out of our car, we saw them all jumping down out of the cabooses with their spades, and swarming over the buried engines like ants. So closely had the snow enveloped them that, after the wheels were clear, the men had to get actually underneath to dig it out. The course of proceeding was very systematic. We signalled to the passenger train which was following us what was the matter, and their engine was detached and sent on to us to aid in the work of extrication. She was first coupled on to our car and the cabooses, which were not very deeply buried, and dragged them out by main force. The line was then cleared where they had stood, and the men set to work on the rear engine. This involved a good deal of digging, but at last she was able to be dragged out as the coaches had been. The same course was pursued with the second engine, and finally the plow, but the job was a long one, and it was midday before our leading driver, Hank de Land, was ready for the next run. It was a curious feeling to look at that solid white bank of snow nearly as high as the engine, and to think that in five minutes more we were going to run full tilt at it; but so it was. We got back into the car, ran down the line about a mile, and started for it again. We hit the bank with a dull thud; the train shivered, but, as we expected, another plunge or two took us through, and the engine shrieked for joy. Things were, however, beginning to look serious; we had already had one "dig
The snow got deeper and deeper, and our speed perceptibly slackened from time to time; but we reached a coaling station, a few miles short of Tikura, without mishap. Our engines took in water, and we proceeded. We got up a great speed, and again dashed at the banks, but about two miles from the last station we came upon a very heavy one. We had been prepared for it by an unusual succession of whis-out," and were not halfway to Hailey. tles, and sat very tight in our seats. The Mr. Doddridge knew that there were far shock was tremendous, but we felt the worse cuttings to come than the one we train still plunging. Slower and slower had just got out of, and he began to think we went, till at last, with one final whistle that he would not altogether be able to and a tremendous rush of steam, we "clear the line to Hailey in the afternoon.” stopped altogether. We all jumped out We passed Tikura, where we looked with of the car, and saw a strange sight to En-interest at the hero of the shooting epiglish eyes. The three great engines were sode, and a mile or two further we got half buried in the drift above their wheels; stuck again. More digging; but now the the snow had fallen in all round them; afternoon was getting on. Our second great blocks were piled up in front of the dig-out completed, Doddridge took counplow, and walking along to the front of the sel with his lieutenants, who knew the line train we could get up on to a hard expanse well. They thought we should be able to of snow, above which the upper part of|get a little further, but there were rumors
of a deep cutting before we got to the next station. Judging from past experiences, this was sure to be full like the rest, and to present an insurmountable obstacle for that day at least. It was determined to see what could be done with the remaining daylight, so again we retired for our final run at the bank from which we had just been extricated. We got through all right, and were hoping we should make a few more miles before dark, when alas! a quarter of a mile from the last bank we came on another. It was smaller than many we had successfully negotiated when going at full speed, but the finish of the last drift had so taken the pace out of us that we lacked power, and for the third time that day we stuck fast. This was very disheartening. It was nearly dark; the men were tired, and did not relish having to turn out of their warm caboose again so soon; but there was no help for it. We decided that after digging out this time we would go back for the night to Shoshone, so as to give the men a good night's rest, and start them fresh in the morning. While the digging was proceeding, Doddridge took it into his head to explore ahead, and in long jack-boots, with a lantern, and accompanied by his second in command, he set off to look at the dreaded rock-cutting. We consoled ourselves with cigars, tea, and whist, and after two hours Doddridge returned quite tired out. He told us he had walked on through deep snow about two miles ahead, and had found a tremendous cutting about half a mile long and quite full; how deep it was no one could say, but men who knew the line put it at from twenty to thirty feet a most serious matter, and much too big a job to tackle that night, so the dig-out being by this time completed, we began backing down to Shoshone again in company with the passenger train. We did not arrive there altogether without mishap. On our way up we had, of course, cleared only the line itself; no sidings were available, so we could not get an engine in front, and the train had to be backed down coaches foremost. In one deep cutting some of the snow had fallen back on to the line, and in the dark the rear coach was forced on to it and nearly thrown off the line. Fortunately it was not quite so serious as that, or we should have had to spend the night there; but once more the tired gang had to turn out and clear the cutting by lantern light. At last we got off again, and, going with great caution, reached Shoshone about midnight.
We were off early next morning. The small drift we stuck in the night before cost us no effort to cut through at full speed, but the nearer we got to the mountains, the more formidable did the scene of Doddridge's exploration over-night appear. After some consultation, it was decided to clear away all obstacles up to the great drift, and then take a grand run at it at full speed, to see how far they could get in at the first attempt. It was obvious that many runs and dig-outs would be required to clear it altogether. The cars were now all taken off, and the engines proceeded to clear the line of the smaller banks which lay on the two miles of line, which were all that remained be tween us and the big drift. On this occa sion I was allowed to sit in the cab of the leading engine, to see the modus operandi, and, riding through the last of these drifts, we pulled up at the edge of the cutting. This was the deepest on the branch; the rock cutting itself was fifteen to twenty feet deep, and on the leeward side of it rose a pile of fantastic rocks. The snow, drifting over the plain, had encountered these rocks and piled itself up in front of them. There had probably been about ten feet on the top of the cutting, when it was freshly fallen, but the thaw of the last few days had reduced this to about five or six, and at the same time made it as solid as a loaf of sugar, so that we could walk and stamp upon it without danger of falling through the crust. The officials all said they had never seen such a drift.
There was no object in riding with the engines merely to stick in the snow, so we all perched ourselves on the top of the ridge of rocks to watch the run. From this point we could see in the clear moun. tain air all the movements of the plow and her satellites, as they retired for about a mile and a half, and set to work to stoke up and raise every pound of steam they could. At last they were ready, and with a suc cession of piercing shrieks they started. I never shall forget the sensation of these three great engines coming towards us at about sixty miles an hour right for the drift. To think of the men on them, and what the result might be in a very few seconds! On they come, faster and faster; as they approach the drift the snow begins to fly in huge clouds, thrown far into the air on each side; and with another yell they plunge into the drift. A few seconds more and the snow is all round them, even over them, and yet they go ploughing in, till great blocks of snow as big as billiard
tables are upheaved as if by an earthquake, and the engines actually go on burrowing underneath them like some gigantic mole. The effort was mighty, but it was doomed to come to an end at last, and in a few seconds more the rush of steam from the safety-valve told us it was over. We all cheered heartily, for we felt it was a splendid effort, and in volved no small amount of courage on the part of the drivers. We scrambled down over the blocks of snow, Doddridge calling to the men to see if they were all right, which happily proved to be the case, and the snow-gang then resumed their labors. The engines were more completely buried than ever, and it was a terribly long job to get them out; when that was accomplished, we had evidence of the tremendous force of the impact. The plow was crushed and bent out of all recognition; the iron plates twisted like crumpled paper, and great stays and braces as thick as a man's arm broken short off like twigs, in fact a broken end of one of them was found within an inch or two of the side of the boiler. Had it pierced the plate, a serious explosion must have ensued.
As the men dug down, and the serious damage to the plow became more and more apparent, the faces of the officials lengthened. This was quite a new experience in "snow bucking." Had the snowfall been on the main line, such a drift never could have accumulated at all, for during the winter the snow-plows are kept constantly running, and thus all drifts are cleared while they are soft, but this outlying branch having been left for a week, it was like running at a wall, and hence the damage. Moreover on a main line such a cutting as this would have had a shed built over it, which would have saved it. Doddridge's dismay was great, and he fully determined to send in a requisition for a shed at once, for fear it should be forgotten before the following winter. This, however, would not solve the existing problem, which was how to get through to Hailey. Notwithstanding the tremendous effort and the great damage, we had not penetrated more than fifty or sixty yards into the cutting, and of course by far the more formidable portion had yet to be dealt with. Further operations with our crippled plow were impossible, so Doddridge cut the telegraph wire, attached his private instrument (which he always carries in his car) to it, and ordered another from headquarters to be at Shoshone the next morning.
But it was evident that even with a new plow it would be madness to run full at the drift in its present condition; so, after extricating the engines, the snow-gang were ordered to spend the remainder of the day "cross-cutting." This operation consists of digging out trenches two feet wide across the track right down to the rails, with intervals of four feet between each trench. By this means the plow, instead of running into a solid bank, has only to encounter a series of blocks, which, having a space behind them, break up more readily, and do not offer nearly the same resistance. Having given these orders, we had nothing more to do but to steam back to Shoshone, and wait for the fresh plow. We had to encounter a good deal of good-natured chaff, for we had ex ultingly told our friends the first day we hoped to sleep at Bellevue, whereas this was now the second time we had returned. Next day the new plow arrived, and we went up with it. Before the first run we went to look at what had been done. An enormous amount of snow had been taken out of the cross cuts, and we now realized what the task was that we had before us. Standing at the edge of the trenches was like looking down a well, and we could hardly believe that even this relief would be sufficient, seeing the enormous blocks of caked snow that were still left. And so it proved. A run was made at the drift; again the same scene was enacted, and the engines plunged in; but this time, to save the plow, only one engine ran behind instead of two. The effect of the cross-cutting now became apparent, for, notwithstanding the reduced power, the two engines made more progress than the three had done before; but still damage was done, and the plow, though not injured like the last, had some braces broken, and had to return to Shoshone for repairs. It now became evident that the bulk of the snow must be dug out, so the next day, while the plow was being repaired, a gang of over a hundred men was taken up to dig the whole drift out down to within four feet of the rails, thus giving the plow an easier task. Some idea of the work involved in this operation may be formed from the fact that in the middle portion of the drift for some distance it took four tiers of men, one above the other, to lift the snow out. The passage thus cleared was certainly over twenty-five feet deep in the worst part, but it was completed at last, and the following day we had the satisfaction of witnessing from our old position on the top of the rocks the final