Today we are going to take a look back at some of the heroes of snow removal from days gone by. And by heroes, we don’t mean the men and women who wielded shovels and ice choppers to clear our driveways and sidewalks, or the shovels or ice choppers themselves.
Nay, friend, today we’re talking about the mechanical snow plows of olde, which did their part to clear roads, sidewalks, and even sometimes waterways!
What is a snow plow? One answer is: an implement or vehicle for clearing roads of snow by pushing it aside.
Here we have assembled an image gallery of some of the most interesting and impressive snow plows ever to clear a path through the aftermath of a blizzard.
Consider this an ode to some of these tried and true models of snow plow history which were responsible for making our lives, and the lives of our predecessors, so much easier in times gone by.
Fittingly, as some of these models were built to last, the brands that made them are sometimes still in existence today, as you will see.
Such brands that have survived over the decades usually have accrued a reputation that usually precedes them.
We hope you enjoy our colourful commentary as well! We have tried to be as accurate as we can and site our sources for the images below (when possible).
Winther Motor Truck Company
Let’s start out with this Winther Motor Truck Company early rotary snow plow.
Based out of Kenosha, Wisconsin, President Martin P. Winther started the Winther Motor Truck Company in 1916, and the company lasted until 1927.
Martin Winther was at first a machinist for the Thomas B. Jeffery Company, and eventually started his own business, which was responsible for manufacturing snow plows, mechanical posthole diggers, rail cars, and street cars.
The above model of Winther snow plow, with it’s front mounted rotating blades, had the ability to cut through large swaths of snow standing before it.
The appearance of rotary-blade wielding plows is no surprise here. Winter weather in Kenosha can be described as a wild and crazy experience for drivers, and a nightmare for anyone using roadways and walkways in general.
The winds can be high and the drifts can be big, and snow plows have always been life savers in and around these parts.
Gerald R. Ford Airport plow
Next we have a Gerald R. Ford Airport plow truck. Not sure on the make or model.
The Gerald R. Ford Airport was pioneering for a number of reasons, not the least of which is because it opened November 1919, only 8 years after the 1911 Wright biplane landed in Comstock Park State Fairgrounds in Sept 1911.
The first air service ever offered in the USA was between Grand Rapids and Detroit in 1926, and so this snow plow had a hand in servicing the the runways for some of the first big plane continental rides ever taken!
As you can see, the background of the above image shows a building that says “Moline” on it. From the looks of it, the snow plow was sent to Moline to do some plowing, a few minutes south west of the airport.
Airport snow removal has always been paramount, since the beginning of the age of aviation. So much so, that the Defense Technical Information Center once, in 1970, detailed an extensive and exhaustive report on the important of snow removal at civic airports in order to analyze and assess the potential hazards of failing to perform routine maintenance.
Next we have a Sno-Go snow plow, belonging to the California Highway Department, clearing off Rim Of The World Drive, in the San Bernardino, California area, along the mountainous roadways northeast of the city proper.
We found the above image at theoldmotor.com.
According to their research, this Sno-Go machine dates back to 1928, and features a Climax R6U, 6-cylinder 1200 c.i. engine. Not only that, but this beastly model once consumed 175 gallons of fuel every 2 to 2.5-hours.
Some people might assume that California is free of snow, due to its southernly location. While it’s true that some areas of California see little to no snow, other areas see as much as 54 inches of snow per year (specifically Donner Summit in the north).
The area where this photo of the Sno-Go snow plow was taken was in a mountainous area as well, which sees some snow annually.
Due to the steep roads, along with the snow and ice in these areas, the government of California has come up with alternate and additional snow and ice control methods such as de-icing chemicals.
De-icing chemicals are one primary and more modern methods to make snow removal more efficient. Read more about snow removal and driving tips for this area over at ca.gov.
Waitsfield, VT plow, 1955
We don’t have much information on this particular snow plow, except that it was plowing the roads of Waitsfield, Vermont in 1955.
The picture is very dramatic, and so we wanted to include it. It has great shadows, light, and snow-clearing action!
The above picture also highlights the nature of your average Vermont winter, which tends to linger longer than some might like it to.
Indeed, Vermont sometimes has been known to experience unexpected and intense snow storms late in the season, and, as a result, always seem to be prepared for one last blast of winter. As the above photo shows, they’ve had their plows at the ready, even back in 1955.
If anyone has any more information on either the truck or the type of plow this is, let us know in the comments.
Also, if you have any good snow removal anecdotes or stories hailing from the Vermont area, please do share them!
1946 Oshkosh W700 Rotary
Here is a 1946 Oshkosh W700 rotary-style snow plow making short work of some deep snow.
Have you heard the expression “My gosh it must be an Oshkosh”?
This is because Oshkosh is reputed to have some of the most formidable snow removal gear ever made, bar none. Not even the most brutal Wisconsin winters can stand up to an Oshkosh snow removal vehicle, not now, and not in 1946 when this picture was taken.
And, in the spirit of insane levels of durability, the Oshkosh Corp is still alive and well today.
Historically, Oshkosh has been making extremely durable snow removal vehicles since 1917, first as the Wisconsin Duplex Auto Company, but eventually changing their name.
Heck, even this 1951 / 52 Oshkosh W-700-15 Snowblowerlooks like it could have been made today and it’s a formidable vehicle indeed.
There is a certain retro futurism about these Oshkosh snow removal vehicles that we find quite pleasing as well.
1924 TTC (Toronto Transit Commission) Plow
It took us some time to identify that this is a TTC plow, but the very unique symbol gives it away.
Because we’re talking Canada here, Canadians sure do know snow, and Toronto is one of the most populated cities in Canada today, located in the province of Ontario. People not from Canada think Toronto is the capital, but that honour belongs to Ottawa.
In any case, knowledge of snow is needed in Canada. The TTC is one of the major bodies that needs to understand snow and how to remove it.
And so it was back in 1924 as well. 1924 was before there were a great many cars on the road, but still, a good snow removal system was needed. And so this “P.2” was on the prowl. If anyone has any more info on this vehicle, let us know!
Champion Snow Plow, Seattle (1923)
Meanwhile, a year before, we have this Champion snow plow clearing snow in Seattle, WA, attached to what appears to be a Pierce-Arrow truck.
This next picture seems to confirm this, although maybe we’re crazy.
This was taken the same year, apparently.
Pierce-built “motor cars” which were considered to be the nation’s best, as far back as 1903, when they released the classic Arrow. Of course, that’s not all they made. For more info on their vehicles, check out the Pierce-Arrow Society website, established 1997.
Champion, makers of the plow itself, are still around today. Visit the Champion Power Equipment website here. We’re pretty sure they’re the same makers that made that plow back in 1923!
1935 Oshkosh Model FB AWD Snow Blower
As you can see from this Model FB AWD Snow Blower by Oshkosh, these vehicles do not mess around. Date is uncertain, but it’s clearly North America sometimes in the 1940’s or 1950’s.
If you look into the history of Oshkosh vehicles, they have so many different vehicles, and they’re all pretty impressive.
Their snow removal vehicles are a particular highlight of their inventory, and, if you take a look at some of their military vehicles, you can see how Oshkosh builds all their vehicles to be similarly tough.
1920’s Wing Plow
It looks like wing-plows have been around for quite a while, haven’t they?
A wing plow is designed to hit a bank of snow at an angle, allowing it to get pushed off to the side of the vehicle, as it drives forward.
Even in these early plowing days, clearly there was an intention for moving a maximum amount of snow as possible with one plow as they could, and so they did.
But since the 1920’s and the time of this wing plow, we’ve had about 100 years to ponder what could be done next, and that has lead us to…yes, that’s right. Dual-wing plows.
Dual, or double wing plows can clear out an entire road in one fell swoop. Certain states, like the state of Maryland and their highway administration (SHA), have adopted fleets of these dual-winged plows, to replace regular plows and get things done more efficiently.
Thanks for taking a look at our vintage and antique snow plow gallery! Here are some bonus images for your consideration. Any comments? Stories? Leave them below, please!