The Canadian Pacific Railway was the link that helped bind Canada after the country was formed in 1867. The company was created in 1881 and four years later the railway ran from coast to coast – or at least from Montreal to the West Coast.  The famous ‘last spike’ was hammered into place on November 7th, 1885 at Craigellachie, BC just west of Revelstoke.

This was a great feat all on it’s own – but like our northern highways, maintaining a rail line across the continent during winter is a major challenge. Something many of us never think about – and yet the railways have to be prepared to move tons of snow at short notice any time during the winter.  And to accomplish this the railways maintain a number of snow plows strategically placed across the country, but strangely I could not find much information on the internet about the CP Snow Plows and Spreaders.


There is a photo of a CP Snow Plow and Spreader sitting in Banff Alberta taken on January 10, 2013 by Chris Moss CP20400762 where he suggests that #20400762 was acquired in 1923.

 Since this is #400648 I wonder if it is even older.

I found one comment that suggests these were built at the Angus Shops in Montreal, Quebec. Click on the link for some fascinating Canadian Rail history.  By the way, the Angus Shops were redeveloped into a residential community over a 10 year period starting in 1984.


Behind the actual Snow Plow is another separate unit called a ‘Spreader’. From what I can gather by looking at various photos and videos this has wings or blades that are pushed out by hydraulic cylinders to move snow away from the tracks after the plow breaks through the drifts.

I did note signs stencilled on the side stating, ” Wings & Plow must be locked in secure position before spreader is moved in track service”. These words came up again in photos of other spreaders.

2 thoughts on “CP RAIL SNOW PLOW

  1. Hi! My name is Tracy Fetters and I am the Chair of the Nakusp Rail Society in Nakusp, BC. The Village of Nakusp is now the proud owners of this unit. Please check out our Facebook page – Nakusp Rail Society. We are wondering if we can use one of your pictures for our interpretive signage that will be installed this year at our units? It is a winter shot of the plow with a jordan spreader behind it. If we can use it, is it possible to obtain a higher resolution shot of it? Many thanks!


    1. Hi Tracy – I set up a shared folder in Dropbox using Beth as the contact. There are 4 versions of the photo for you to consider. See you in June – we plan a trip through Nakusp and area at that time.


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