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Railroad snow sheds

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Now I did not know if the highway on which my wife and I were traveling between Walensberg and Durango was previously a railway snow shed, but it was impressive.  Having that in mind, I will repeat a portion of a book, which describes the construction and some information about their history as a quote:


These were impressive structures.  The beams were massive.  12 inches wide and 24 inches deep, and the walls soared 25 ft into the air, to allow the tall engine stacks to pass through.  (my comment: Possibly to eliminate some of the fumes and smoke for passenger comfort.)  In addition to covering the tracks, sheds were constructed to protect a number of stations as well as the homes of the station crews.


(my comment: Yes homes.)  Children grew up inside those great wooden caverns, playing in the strange dim light, while the wind outside tugged and whistled through cracks in the walls.   They also lived with the constant fear of fire.  Sparks from a locomotive stack some times set sections of the shed on fire, and it would  soon fill up with choking smoke.  To combat fires, railroad companies stationed men every mile or so with buckets of water.  (end of quote)


Now I am not able to 'copy' the picture of the actual timber structure, but it is in the shape of an inverted "U".  The walls of massive timbers, went up to meet timbers, which were angled to the horizontal overhead timbers.


The snow shed which we traveled through was of the highest point of the highway, and even was given a name, which I beleive is Wolf Creek Pass.  Off hand, I don't recall the actual structure, but it was still impressive.   However, I do believe that there were "cut outs" in periodic locations, so as to view the surrounding scenery.


Just believed that some member may find the information of interest, and even have them recall such a trip through areas which have the same "snow shed" features.



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  • 3 weeks later...

Those snow sheds were miles long.  Now, if I remember correctly, 

they only exist for a short distance at the top of wolf creek pass. 

That type of shed was used by a number of railroads and highways, for protecting highways and rail from avalanches. 

I have one near me in Washington state over highway 90.  I think it is still there. 

It could have been an old Milwaukee snow shed.  Now it is a walking trail except for a down bridge half way up the hill.

There is a trail from the down bridge into and up the side canyon.  then back down the canyon to the other end of the down bridge.


Milwaukee lost two passenger trains on their first line up North that came into Seattle from the East. 

Both trains were stopped side by side at the entrance to the long tunnel.  I think it was 14 miles long.

they were waiting for a major snow storm to stop so the plows could operate.

An electric loco was in the tunnel waiting to take the next train through, when the avalanche hit.

the two trains went to the bottom of the canyon with major loss of life.

The small station and all out-buildings were swept off of the narrow shelf as well. 

The shelf with 4 tracks was thought to be a safe waiting place. 

There was room for many trains to wait in the tunnel.


They could have left the steam locomotives outside, but maybe they needed steam heat for the cars.

Maybe you can't capture steam heat from the front of a steam loco.

I think I'll look this topic up to refresh my memory.

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