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Weasels to the Rescue on Donner Summit 1952


Ernest Ongaro
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  • 1 month later...

I was looking at another source for this and I am not sure the Weasels actually made it to the stranded train.  As much as I love the story of the Weasels facilitating the rescue, they don't seem to have made it to the stuck train.  I think the photos are of them unloading to make the attempt. 

I couldn't post the hyperlink for the story but this is what it was under.  Apparently Tucker Snow Cats are claiming a part in the rescue.  

"Tucker to the rescue 1952 City of San Francisco" In the Outdoor and Snowcat forum.  

"By late Monday, Southern Pacific had made arrangements with the Sixth Army Headquarters in San Francisco for three Army snow "Weasels," as well as doctors, medical supplies, food, fuel for the snow fighting equipment, and army personnel to travel by convoy to Colfax, Calif."

"From Colfax, the equipment was loaded aboard work train Extra No. 6236 East. The plan was to have the F-unit-powered extra follow rotary No. 7209, plowing the eastbound main on Tuesday. However, the rotary ran out of fuel and water while plowing into the 10-foot drifts, and had to return to a siding at Gold Run.

Because of the delayed plowing progress, SP decided to unload the Weasels and have them try to get through to No. 101 with medical supplies and food. Unfortunately the Weasels could not operate well in the soft snow cover, and the Army informed SP officials their plan would not work.

Meanwhile, a group of volunteer skiers enlisted by the SP reached the train Monday night with a small amount of food and medical supplies."

"A Pacific, Gas & Electric Sno-Cat, the only machine that could cross the drifts and snowbanks in the high Sierras."

"A Coast Guard helicopter with a doctor, medical supplies, and food attempted to fly from Colfax to the train, but high winds at Yuba Pass prevented the helicopter from landing. The supplies were then dropped to the train."

"Passengers carefully make their way alongside the ice-encrusted streamliner on their way to safety.

The California Highway Department opened U.S. Highway 40 to the Nyack Lodge at Emigrant Gap. At 3:20 p.m., the passengers aboard No. 101 were led to the highway, then driven by private automobiles 5 miles to Nyack Lodge. There, SP officials had made arrangements to have everyone fed and encouraged passengers to send telegrams to their families. Southern Pacific made sure all passengers' needs were met, and because of the railroad's tremendous rescue efforts to reach the stranded train, passenger claims against the SP were minimal."

LTC (ret) Tim

 

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