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Arctic Express 1895

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Last week I had a very enjoyable but slightly chilly weekend in Oslo, giving me my first snow of the winter. Being unable to find very much in the collection relating to Norway, (although we do have some nice images of a Norwegian loco), and since the snow has now descended on Britain, I thought we’d have some images of a historic snow fall.

We all know that snow is a tricky thing when it comes to transport. In the case of the railways, low temperatures can cause points, couplings and steam-heating equipment to freeze and seize up. Wet, heavy snow means problems with ploughing and disruption of signalling and points; dry, powdery snow results in blizzards and drifts like those seen in these images.

Snow Plough. County March Summit, South of Altnabreac. Highland Railway. Snow drifts, 1895

Snow plough. County March Summit. March 1895, 3 engines and plough in snow drift, 1895

These photographs were taken in 1895 at County March Summit on the Highland Railway, and show three engines and a snow plough trying to make their way through a large snow drift. While it was often possible to clear snow on level ground, railway cuttings proved more difficult, being the perfect place for snow drifts to amass.

County March Summit, South of Altnabreac. Highland Railway. Snow drifts, 1895

The winter of 1894/5 saw the Highland line between Perth and Wick largely blocked, but, with great amounts of effort, in the end only about a mile remained closed. The Highland Railway tried to prioritise the transport of mail across this mile-long stretch, travelling on foot to meet trains at either end of the blockage. Personally, I don’t think I’d fancy trekking a mile across 3-4ft snow drifts.

This weekend visitors can have their own arctic adventure at the Museum with our Arctic Express Weekend.

Written by Lorna Frost

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  1. Steve from GWR

    Hi – your final link has the colon after http missing so it doesn’t work. Thanks for the blog though, fascinating stuff. Good luck with the Arctic Weekend!

    1. Mark Green, NRM Web Producer

      Thanks for spotting this, Steve — that’s fixed now.

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