Feb 5, 2011

Snowbound in February

Chicago's O'Hare Airport this week, when thousands of flights
were cancelled during the Blizzard of 2011

Dot's Diary, Monday, Feb. 5, 1945:

TIME magazine (Feb. 5, 1945 issue):

“The manpower and equipment shortage caught up with the Eastern railroads last week.

Since mid-December, when the first of a series of blizzards and icy gales lashed at their overloaded lines, the [rail]roads had done more than their usual best to clear the tracks. But main-line trains slowed to a crawl: the crack Twentieth Century Limited was ten and a half hours late on one scheduled run of 17 hours from Chicago to New York City.

Finally in many a busy freight yard traffic came to a stop while trainmen groped for switches beneath snowdrifts. Then the nation was in serious trouble. Two hundred thousand freight cars were tied up in the East by one of the worst transportation crises on record.

When last week's cold wave sent temperatures to 18° below zero at Portland, Me., to 16° below at Binghamton, N.Y., the Association of American Railroads decided it was time for drastic action. With the approval of the Office of Defense Transportation, A.A.R. clamped a tight three-day embargo on all non-Government freight moving east of Lake Michigan and north of the Chesapeake and Ohio lines in Virginia.

More Snow & Ice?

Whether the 72-hour embargo had given the railroads time enough to dig themselves out of their trouble was still a question this week. Long trains of empties were snaking across the bleak landscape, headed away from the congested terminals. Dozens of passenger trains were canceled, and their high-wheeled engines ignobly coupled to strings of empty boxcars. By week's end the roads hoped to have caught up again, unless. . . .

Along the busy railroad lines in the Northeast, engine smoke hung low and heavy over the rails. Railroad men gloomily marked it down as a sure sign that more snow was on the way.”

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