S&E RR Line Still in Snow Blockade
During one of the worst winters and springs ever recorded in the Upper North Platte River Valley of south central Carbon County, the following headline news item dominated the April 6, 1917 issue of “The Saratoga Sun.”
Heroic Effort will be Made to Open the Road by the End of the Present Week
In spite of strenuous efforts put forth by the management of the local road, assisted by Union Pacific snowplows and other equipment, as well as by large crews of men from Saratoga and Encampment who have worked heroically with picks, shovels, blasting powder and all other means at their command, the S&E road is still effectually blockaded, and it is estimated that at least a couple of days and perhaps more will yet be required before the road is opened to the terminus. The great numbers of cattle being fed on the valley and the present acute shortage of the feed supply makes the present situation a very critical one, and heroic efforts will be made to break the line open within the shortest possible time.
Considerable time was lost at the start in waiting on a snowplow, it being the general theory that a rotary plow would have no trouble in opening the cuts, but subsequent events have proven that the road crews with shovels and spud bars have made fully as good headway in opening the cuts as the snow plows, which, on account of the very deep and heavy snow and the streaks of ice which are found in all the cuts, marking the various storms and thaws of the past six weeks, have proven too much for even the best rotary plows owned by the Union Pacific company. There has been a series of delays owing to damaged and broken snowplows ever since the work was begun on the lower end of the line.
A crew of from 20 to 25 men has been sent out from Saratoga each day for a week or more, and a great deal has been accomplished even with the primitive tools at hand, the line having been opened for seven miles or more north from this station. Most of the cuts from this territory were level full, containing from 15 to 20 feet of snow, which had packed to a consistency closely resembling ice and being almost as difficult to handle. Last night, the crew from Saratoga and the snowplow working out of Walcott were but three miles apart, but on account of some damage to the plow, it was unable to be on the work today, the report from Walcott being that a new plow would arrive there tonight and would be on the job early tomorrow morning.
Reports from Encampment are to the effect that several miles of the track has been cleared in this direction and all available men are being sent out on the line.
The situation in the upper valley, where large numbers of cattle are being wintered and where the feed question is becoming very serious, has caused a movement for a wholesale suspension of all other operations until this line can be opened. It is reported that the entire town of Encampment will suspend business for a day or two in order that everyone may lend assistance in opening the road to assist in averting a wholesale loss of livestock.
A movement is also on foot in Saratoga to declare a general holiday tomorrow and allow every able-bodied man in the community to get out and do his share toward breaking the blockade. It is probably a safe estimate to say there will be from 150 to 200 men engaged in the work tomorrow, and barring serious accidents, there will be several carloads of hay available for local stockmen before tomorrow evening. A valiant effort will be made to have the line open for its entire length within 48 hours.