Northern Pacific Rotary Snowplow No. 2

The steam-powered rotary snowplow No. 2 was constructed by the Cooke Locomotive Works for the road in 1887, making it the oldest plow of its type in existence. Used originally to clear deep drifts in the Cascades, it was sent eastward to less rigorous duties in Minnesota when larger, more powerful equipment took over in the mountains. (Below is a video meant for press purposes showing Rotary #2 at the museum and similar Rotary plows in use. To download, right click here, and select "save link as").


It had its own engine inside to run the plow, but could not move on its own power. The plow was backed by three to four locomotives to get it through the drifts. It worked like a giant snow blower, with a steam boiler inside turning the blade.

Snow was sucked inside the blades and shot to the side of the track from a chute behind the headlight. The rotary plow often cleared snowdrifts up to 15 feet high, and could do in one hour what a wedge plow could do in an entire day.

Purchased from the Steam Preservation Society of Cadillac, Michigan, it is the oldest plow of its type in existence. Restoration was performed by members of the Lake Superior Transportation Club.