|John Wilkosz posted, cropped|
Jordan Spreader 1960's file photo from the Jackson Jordan Ludington, Mi plant.doing some ditching work. I believe this is someplace in Illinois. Photo is stamped Chicago, IL on back
Here's a little history on the Jordan Spreader. The spreader was the creation of Oswald F. Jordan, a Canadian road master who worked in the Niagara, Ontario area on the Canada Southern Railway, later a subsidiary of the New York Central Railroad. He designed the Jordan spreader as a multi-purpose MoW vehicle with adjustable blades and plough to allow improved conformation to the railbed. He supervised a crew at the St. Thomas Canada Southern shop in the early 1890s. He formed his own company, O.F. Jordan Company, in 1898 and continued construction of Jordan Spreaders. Walter Riley was appointed manager following Jordan's death in 1910 and directed the company for 50 years and the construction of 1,400 spreaders. Jordan spreaders are available by special order from Harsco Rail.
Jordan Spreaders are primarily used for ditching and vegetation control along the tracks, and during the winter months they can be used to plow snow. The two sets of wing plows along each side can be extended from the carbody to push snow, dirt, and gravel far off the right of way. When plowing snow, as long as it is not above the side plow's height, it can be a very effective snow removal machine. Anything higher than that usually requires a rotary snow plow. You can find spreaders at many division point yards along the Northern Transcon where they are used to clear rock slides and washouts during the warm months and snow drifts during the winter, but they can be found anywhere on the system working.
|David Young posted|
Stephen Henshaw Still not all out.
Brandan J Dock shared
Phil Brazil I spent many a shift standing on the point of one just like this. We worked in a yard so my job was to watch for obstacles. We had 2 locomotives (we only used one to push) that could keep the air up reasonably well--the engineer would always keep some brake on during runs to help keep the pressure up. [Before hydraulic rams were developed, Jordan Srpeaders used air pistons to control the "wings."]
Steve Bafaro Put the sloper down to get that snow away from the tracks. If they push snow where I do, they would run out of room very fast. [I edited this comment for spelling and punctuation.]
Roy Gibson That sweet machine looks like the 62 that we used in the early years of my time on the rails. Then we got a hydraulic spreader which work slowly but boy did it push snow.
Larry Gawel The one I was on was a open cab.Came close a couple of times of taking down a signal because air valves took awhile to release.
David Williamson My favorite railroad machine!!
Bob Pennell I remember we took out the inner guard rails on a small open deck bridge that didn't have flanger signs up. You couldn't even see the bridge. They flew out just like noodles and didn't derail the Jordan spreader. We had about 30" of new snowfall and didn't run trains down the coal line cause the mines shut down because of the snow storm. Everything was closed.
Lewis Mann Bob Pennell
Similar instance on the Michigan Branch. Got called at 10pm to pilot one from Urbana,MP106, to Goshen,MP57. Almost took out a private farm crossing in the curve at Rose Hill. Not marked and snow so deep in the cut nothing was visible.
Doug McEwen Very awesome pic. Find it strange pushing with one unit [locomotive] with that much snow.
Erick Kurowski posted
|Joe Dockrill posted|
Al Laws: Snow ! Don’t know much about snow moving but sure moved a lot of dirt rocks and trees maybe a few whistle boards, these machines are the ultimate earth movers,with a good fresh six axle and a good man on the throttle, cab sure could use a better heater, I loved running one !
If you want to dig deeper, TrainWeb has a page of links of info on the Jordan spreader.
|Rick Alison posted|
Carrier wing at work.
Rick Leggett: The three most important things in track maintenance: 1. Drainage. 2. Drainage. 3. Drainage.
|David Muma posted|
Canadian National Railway's (CNR) Jordan spreader No. 51069 clearing snow in the Boston Bar, BC yards. The date attributed to the photo is 1940, however it would seem to be incorrect as the spreader appears to be pushed by a diesel locomotive. - CN Images of Canada Collection
[Note another spreader parked in a siding on the left.]
Adam LeLacheur: Early to mid 60's due to the unit being a highhood GP9 in green and gold scheme.
Joe Dockrill shared
|Joe Dockrill shared|
[Using snowcats to help the Jordon push snow over the side.]
Sean William shared
Cristobal Martinez: Unique experience and area on donner summit.
Rick Leggett: We used a ski groomer as a "trail packer" in heavy snow years, to plow trails on both sides of the tracks in what we called "blood alley." Blood Alley was about a 70 mile stretch, where moose would wander up to the tracks because the walking was easier. Moose are so dumb, that even if a train was a mile away and the moose was 100 yards from the plowed tracks, they would run up to the tracks thinking it was safer to outrun the train between the rails. In one of our worst winters, about 70% of the 750 train killed moose were in this relatively short stretch where we primarily used this ski groomer. By plowing trails and then having the snow set up hard to make it easier walking for the moose, not only did it keep the moose off of the tracks, but if done correctly by wandering around in stands of young birch/willow/aspen trees, it also provided easy browse for the moose. Making it a win-win.
|Robby Gragg posted|
On 2/5/11 a Jordan Spreader heads west through Shabbona, IL after the blizzard a few days before.
|Richard Luis Kitterman posted|
1/14/2018: In 1890, Canada Southern Railway roadmaster O.F. Jordan filed a patent for a ballast spreader, and by the turn of the century Jordan spreaders had entered mass production, becoming common maintenance-of-way equipment in North America. A Cheseapeake and Ohio Railway (C&O) spreader is displayed at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Maryland.
|Joe Dockrill posted|
From Railroad Maintenance of Way group
Paul Strubeck Early 1930s.
Mo Rensing That is a great tool. Can do a lot of damage though.
Paul Jones Cant tell, what road?
Paul Strubeck PRR
Mike Western Better have both wings down when digging that deep with that beast ..
Sam L'Huillier Ditched a few times with a Jordan but plowed/spread snow lots
[They didn't have to worry about hitting fiber optic cables back then.]
Steve LaBonte posted
Mike Simonds Wish we could do that today.
Andrew Mather Sadly some equipment isn't built to last the way it was years ago.
Phil Green those Air cylinders were so slow, we had a hard time with them moving up or unlocking.
Fox Osier NorthStar I recall watching you guys fiddling with that....but knew better than to ask. It wasnt hard to tell you guys were getting grumpy.
Andrew Beeman Wow a Jordan being used for what it was intended lol
Greg Beatty I worked for Jackson Jordan many years ago, the last spreader I sold was to the newly formed Conrail.
Mike Farley posted two photos.
|Joe Dockrill posted, cropped|
ready to rock
|RJMcKay commented on Ramon's posting|
What happens when you hit an old signal foundation hidden in the weeds, lol
|Brendan commented on his post|
Winging at sundown Capreol Ontario Canada.
|Western Rail Images posted|
Snow Fighting! Denver & Rio Grande Railroad - Jordan Spreader 048 at Moffatt Tunnel & Winter Park Colorado 1959 - By Jim Ozment
|The Kentucky Trainman posted|
Brendan J Dock that is very old, likley 70 years or so, air spreader Jordan
Andre Tardif shared
David Sweeney are those just snow wings ... or purpose built for brush?
Sam L'Huillier David Sweeney no they have changeable edges for snow or ditch,I have done some ditching,with snow blade, and shoulder cutting to pre move grade over
Don Wakely Super machine but from a structures point of view its hell on culverts.. takes the markers out, makes finding them difficult, and more often than not damages the ends. So not the best in wet or flood prone areas at least unless the operator is on board and can actually operate it instead of just running it.
Phil Kirkland Mess, just pulling all that crap into the ballast shoulders, look bhind the machine!
The current state of the art spreader.
|Wired from Facebook|
Essentially all spreaders on railroads are older plows that have been rebuilt if necessary. This new plow, built by Jordan plow successor Harsco enjoys better and new technology and a substantially heavier weight on the trucks (80 tons).
Mark Gillings BNSF has purchased a few of these and may have one or two more coming.
In my archives I found these. Gerry Haggerty was the main operator on this machine. If I am not mistaken, the serial plate on the spreader was dated 1906. Last time I saw it was at Railway Industrial a couple year back collecting rust.Michael Bachmann All air operated and a pot belly stove for heat and the cold air wisped right though it.
Gregg Wolfersheim It's still at RIS end of track near Oakland Ave.
|Bill Molony posted|
John Govednik I'm a but clueless on the MOW tools and a lot of other RR details.
What did the ditcher do? Dress the ballast along the track?
Dennis DeBruler http://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/.../mow-jordan...
Matthew Linhart I was going to say that too,its a Jordan spreader. Ditcher???
Dennis DeBruler Jordan was a brand name. One of the summer jobs was cleaning out drainage ditches along side the track: http://www.railpictures.net/photo/323056/
Dennis DeBruler I learned today that another "summer job" is grooming rip rap when a track is close to a river shore: http://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/.../mow-side-dump...
Michael Bachmann We called it the Jordan Spreader. I operated it a couple of times, the last time was in the winter of 1978 on the River Line, broke the wing and parked it at Caton Farm and tried to use the 666 to break through, got that stuck. We finally got out and had to help the train behind us. Cold day, wind chill about -60. Our engineer was from behind the iron curtain, don't remember his name.
David Gevaudan Sounds like a reel successful day. There was one on the Union RR used to plow the slag dumps and heavy snow.
|Joe Kveton posted|
We usually had 2 units.
Sam L'Huillier operated Jordan spreader snow plow for 30 + yrs in the UP of Michigan. had the hi v plow for snow on itFrank Irvine Where are / is the operator(s) ?Sam L'Huillier 1 each side in cab by window 4 hand levers for wing, 3 foot valves for boom locks nose flange/ plow forward leaver right side 3 rd man usually on air Jordan's ,, hyd ones almost same lay out .Sam L'Huillier last 1 i worked on had engineer in center with controls for power pushing , did not need radio , he was with us.
|Jerry Jackson posted|
ATSF 199258. A Jordan Spreader, Fort Madison, IA 1986. It looks like the ghost of a 1980's crew member under the road number.
Joe Dockrill commented on Joe's posting
[Snow Plows has a photo of this same unit clearing snow.]
|Jim Reider posted|
Somebody is gonna get plowed! Sioux City yard yesterday
|Hoosier Valley Museum|
This postcard entitled "A WONDERFULL TIME SAVER IN TRACK BUILDING" was mailed on July 31, 1912 from Bremen, Indiana to Garrett, Indiana. The message reads, "Hello Kiddo. I am still in Bremen. I guess I will be here the rest of the week. We had our pictures taken, can you see me? I just had a squirrel dinner, don't I look fat? We are living pretty high. You can look for me Sat. night - Be a good girl. Love and Kisses, Jess." The card is addressed to Mrs. J. B. Bitwall. Jess must have worked for the B&O on the crew of the Jordan spreader and Mrs. Bitwall must have been his wife. The postcard is from the Russell Dove collection.
|Robert Callahan posted|
In a picture appropriate for the type of weather we continue to experience in the northeast, a flanger movement powered by a pair of RS-3 units heads west at Natick, MA in February of 1961. (Photo: Mr. Robert Coolidge)
|Andre Tardif shared|
Reece Sabrina Tewell posted
|Dave Wall commented on Reece's posting|
They can plow snow? lol
Just make sure you don't have the wing locked...if it won't clear the bluff. Speaking for a friend. 🤣 (Yes, the rear trucks of the spreader and both trucks on the first loco are derailed from a turned rail. )
|Austin Jacox posted|
11/8/18 Bend, OR
Formerly ATSF 199246
Joe Dockrill old air spreader, no longer around
Ron Manley Time for the Rotary plows to come out.
Dave Haggland Have to wait until it’s too late.
|Dennis DeBruler shared|
A spreader equipped for double tracks and sidings. This is the first photo I have seen of this configuration. UP at Donner Pass
Allan Gilbert SP had one in Oakridge, Oregon that was painted in Daylight colors. http://spcascades.railfan.net/spreader4033.html
|Joe Dockrill posted|
Joe Dockrill engineer can run from the spreader.
|Joe commented on his post|
|Ken Ellison posted|
Mark Gillings Home-built by Great Northern. This one built August 1970.Clay Ercolin Mark Gillings Great Northern? How can that be when the merger creating Burlington Northern happened in March of 1970?Mark Gillings Very good point! Further research indicates that the last four built were under BN.Mark Hutchinson Those elephant ears were legendary for taking out depot windows.
John Ives At least he kept it on the machine. I’ve had to cap all the lines and go back and get the wing with a Pettibone
|One of seven photos posted by David Davis and shared by Joe Dockrill|
NW Jordan Spreader shot by Larry Stiles 1985
[Note in the other photos how the front snowplow is mounted upside down for the Summer. It seems that it significantly reduces visibility.]
|Andre Tardif shared|
Joe Edwards Still has those air cylinders on it..
Brendan J Dock posted two photos with the comment: "snow business old and new from Pickle."
Chris Streich BN had a lot of input on the slide down window protection to prevent vandalism.
|Rick Leggett commented on Brendon's post|
Love the looks & features of the new ones, but even the older ones...can push a lot of snow.
|Ray Battison commented on Brendon's post|
|Ganger Fernandex Jr. commented on Brendon's post|
Sandpoint Idaho 2017
|Jordan Campbell commented on Brendon's post|
This old girl still runs off air
|Joey Harer posted|
Say goodbye to her boys. She's getting torched up and scrapped. Too bad we couldn't get her to a museum. All air cylinders with leather seals.
Mike Western Used to stuff oily rags around the seals to soften the leather up for use .. lol
Steve Gartlan CN has a habit of getting rid old equipment instead of donating it to a museum.
[At least let a museum pay scrap price for it.]
|David Schauer posted|
Brendan J Dock shared
David Gittler Don’t you put the other one part way out to balance, good way to D rail it with one wing out that way.
Brett Gell David Gittler it depends, cold powder verses avalanche packed cement.
David Gittler Brett Gell
You’re right on that account, however we always kept one wing out opposite side just for balance.
|Rick Leggett commented on Brendan's share|
The one thing you learn about snow, is that there are many, many different types that are primarily predicated on two things: 1-Moisture content, 2-Has it previously been moved? The making of a good operator is more of an art, than a science...and a butt that can feel the difference. In this pic, if the snow hadn't been relatively light and fluffy (and not previously plowed)...we would put the other wing out for stability.
Minkota Rail Fan posted three photos with the comment:
I saw this pair of SD40-2's and this plow parked on one of the yard tracks in the Fargo Yard last night. But last night's sleet and snow fall prevented me from getting a good pic of them.So I went by there this morning to see if the were still there, and they were.January 2nd 2020.Chad Sandhofner Plowing fargo yard all day today
|One of ten photos posted by Dale Brown|
Sitting on the old Milwaukee road depot stub in savanna il
[I don't remember seeing one with a side bay window. That window makes a lot of sense given that the operator has to keep a close eye on the wing while it is plowing snow or dirt. The comments marvel that not only do the two stub tracks still exist, they have been rebuilt.]
|Steve LaBonte shared a link|
Found a nice photo essay article about Spreaders.
Charles Arthur Nickerson Used one to plow tumbleweeds out of cuts on Slaton Division Branchlines out of Lubbock, Tx in the late 70’s and 80’s on Santa Fe.
Vance Nelson Just about put the Gradall out of business!
Billy Schultz always loved running them.
Ken Sgroi Moved a lot of snow.
Joe Dockrill shared a link to these notes with the comment:
hey; I got a photo credit on this page, I did not know Jordan Spreader inventor was a Canadian and built in St. Thomas invention https://industrialscenery.blogspot.com/2017/11/mow-jordan-spreader.html, interesting reading and picturesReginald Fitzpatrick: Interesting Read [I needed that after seeing a comment a couple of weeks ago about the TERRIBLE prose.]
|Chuck Jarnagin commented on Joe's share, cropped|
Here’s my little experience with a jordan spreader. The siding had a train in it and it got snowed in. We had to dig it out and bring out JS out to clean out the ditch.
|Archie Artymovich posted|
SW Saskatchewan Canada
Dennis DeBruler shared
A Jordan Spreader doing its wintertime job.
|Lanny Billings commented on Archie's post|
|John Kanakos commented on Joe's share|
We have one at the Elgin County Railway Museum located in the MCR Shops!
| Kick Klein commented on Joe's share|
Just ran one today [Nov 11, 2020]
Normally a ballast regulator is used to groom the ballast. But here they are adding a significant amount of material to widen the bank, so they are using a spreader to shove the material down the side of the bank.
|Rick Alison posted|
Roger Dubielewicz: Bank widening a year ahead of the sled ballast program. After the sled raise and several lifts with the tampers you need something to hold new ballast.
|Rick Alison posted|
[An overview of the spreader train.]
Rick Durrant posted five photos with the comment: "When the spreader derails on Donner 2011."
[You use sidewinders to get them back on the track.]
(new window) 4:23 taught me that you can use the wing to shove the snow up and further away from the track.
(new window) Visible ditching starts at 2:46.
Skip to -4:20 in this video (source) a spreader in action including folding in a wing to pass an obstruction.
An action photo showing that the reason the winglets can be at a different angle is to restore the shape of the drainage ditches on each side of a track. They can also be used for vegetation control without the risk of herbicides. (Update: when posted, the comments discuss that good drainage is the most important aspect of maintaining a good track.)
In the winter a spreader can help remove snow off the track: clearing a single track, to remove the berm between a double track the spreader shoved the snow onto the other track where a rotary snow blower came along and threw the snow way off to the side. A spreader and a rotary are in the same frame.
Pictures of EJ&E's and MWRD's spreaders parked on a siding waiting for their call to duty.
Another summertime job for a spreader is grooming rip rap when the tracks are close to a river's shore.
A video of a Jordan spreader plowing snow. (source)
Video of snow plowing as viewed from the cab
A video of a BNSF spreader pushing snow in a yard
A video of a spreader doing a ditching demonstration They start shoving dirt at 2:11.
A video of another ditching operation
A video of a CSX ditching operation starts at 1:43. The modern units have an up down movement of the whole blade in addition to swing down and swing out. The video also shows B&O Colored Position Lights. In fact, at 9:10, you can see a signal drop from yellow to red.