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The Evolution of Snow Plowing Through the Ages

Snow Plowing may not seem like an impossible task with today’s plethora of modern snow blowers, tractors and snowplows, but it wasn’t always that way. The paralyzing effects of snow could bring entire cities to a standstill and cause people in snowy climates to be homebound for days or even weeks at a time as recently as 150 years ago.

Train Plows

It was essential for commerce that trains met schedules with their valuable loads and hundreds of passengers. In the mid-1800’s, a dentist from Canada invented a rotary plow to fit on the front of a train. Blades were arranged in a circle and would cut away at the snow as it moved forward, and also move the snow up a chute where it was expelled off to whichever side the operator chose. The rotary plow drew its power from the train’s engine – Modern rail plows use gas or electricity.

Horse-Drawn Plows

You may think of a horse-drawn sleigh as a romantic image, but in the late 1800’s the first snowplows to be widely used in cities were horse drawn. They would pull unwieldy wedge-shaped wooden blades. The snow plowing was exhausting for the horses and less than thorough. Optionally, men were hired to scoop snow with shovels into horse drawn carts, which carried it away.

Vehicular Plows

In 1920, an enterprising pair of brothers from Norway started Overaasen Snow Removal Systems. They developed a plow that could be used on a vehicle; an improvement over driving tired horses through the snow. The idea of vehicle-mounted plows was improved by Frink Snowplows in New York, which still operates today.

With the convenience of today’s modern versions of the plow, from snow blowers to huge plows with lifts, snow plowing can clean large areas in no time and small sidewalks or driveways in short order. In many towns, the same landscaping companies that keep your garden looking beautiful all summer can keep your home cleaned up all winter. Give them a call and save your back for skiing!

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