Old St. Andrews



Fighting the Snowdrifts



St. Andrews Beacon, Feb 22, 1894
Fighting the Snow Drifts
The Lot of a Railroad Man far From Being a Happy One
No gladiator of ancient days ever fought a sterner fight than the railway men have been fighting with the snow drifts and the boreal blast during the last few months. One of the toughest battles was waged at this end of the route on Friday last, when the men had to contest their way through drifts twelve feet and more high, and varying in length from twenty feet to a quarter of a mile. The St. Andrews train, due to leave at 7 o'clock, started away from the station a few minutes after the appointed hour. There was a plough ahead of the engine, and but one car behind, yet six hours were consumed before the train was able to reach Katy's Cove bridge, not two miles from the depot. A representative of the Beacon paid a visit to the train at noon. The train crew had just succeeded in fighting their way through Heanan's cut, where the snow was about fifteen feet deep, and the engine had backed up to the yard to take in a fresh supply of water. While the engine was being refreshed, the weary shovellers were feasting on bread and cheese and "hard tack" in the car behind, cracking jokes and wondering where the next stop was to be made. The fireman had not such an easy time as they for covered with smoke and snow and grime, he was thrusting great shovels of coal into the seething furnace, until the steam gauge was dancing like a thin of life, and every bolt and seam in the boiler was straining with the terrible pressure. The tanks having been filled, the veteran conductor, Bart Donaghue, who has waged many a battle with the elements during his thirty and odd years railroad experience, gave the word to "go ahead." Engineer Logan pulled the throttle wide open, while his assistant, Will Davis, kept piling the coal into the greedy furnace. The great machine, although handicapped by the ponderous plough in front, gave a leap forward, and swaying and rocking, from side to side like an intoxicated being, dashed toward the next drift at the rate of sixty miles an hour almost. There was probably three quarters of a mile of clean track between the two drifts. Over this the engine flewat a whirlwind gait. In an instant almost the plough struck the drift, and in the same instant inky darkness enveloped the train. On board the panting engine not an object was to be seen, not a word was spoken. Nothing could be heard but the throbbing of the struggling machine, and the swish of the snow as it flew past in a blinding tempest. The engineer clutched the lever with a grip of desperation, not knowing whether the next instant he would be plunging to his death or whether he would be brought to a standstill in the snowy depths. In the car behind, every man was on the alert. "Will she go through?" queried an anxious one. "No, she can't do it," was the almost sad reply. For a second or two not a word was spoken. The engine kept thrashing and pounding along, and the snow rose in great clouds all around her. Her speed slackened for a moment, and as if sympathizing with the machine in her gallant struggle, the spirits of the men began to flag. But it was only for a moment, for in a twinkling the speed increased, the golden sunlight shed a flood of light around the snow enveloped train, and every one knew that another victory had been won. The engagement was a short one, but it was thrilling while it lasted, and sent the blood coursing through one's veins at race-horse speed. After getting clear of the drifts between St. Andrews and Chamcook, little difficulty was experienced the remainder of the way to Watt Junction. The junction was reached at 5 pm, almost simultaneously with the arrival of a" double header" and plough from St. Stephen. It was three o'clock on Saturday morning before the St. Andrews train got back to the depot here. On Saturday, in consequence of the snow blockade, the St. Andrews engine had to run into St. Stephen. Within a couple of miles of St. Stephen, she got stuck in a snowdrift, and while pounding her way though sustained some damage. It was 2:30 Sunday morning before St. Stephen was reached, and 11 o'clock the same forenoon when she ran in here with her passengers.