Incredible new book shows trains operating in VERY snowy conditions

Leaves on the line shut down UK trains, while in America they smash their way through enormous SNOWDRIFTS, as this amazing new photo book shows

  • Winter Railroading, by Mike Danneman, features more than 160 images of trains in snowy and icy conditions
  • It took the author more than 40 years to capture the images, which were taken in Chicago, Kansas and beyond
  • ‘Winter has a way of making a good train photo into an arresting one,’ Danneman explains in the book

In the northern tier of the United States, it takes extremely severe winter weather to stop the railroads running – and to prevent U.S photographer Mike Danneman from heading out with his camera kit to photograph the trains.

As this astonishing book shows.

Danneman’s Winter Railroading tome features more than 160 striking images of trains and their crews battling the most frigid of conditions, with enormous snowploughs deployed to smash through snowdrifts and keep travellers and goods moving.  

The images were taken by Colorado-based Danneman over the course of four decades and snapped at locations across the USA, from Kansas to Wisconsin. 

He writes: ‘Even when travel gets tough and the snow gets deep – and it hurts to breathe and your face and hands sting – hardy men and mighty machines keep the tracks clear.  

‘It might be tempting to put the camera away during the cold months of the year but the photographic possibilities during wintertime are much too grandiose to miss. Winter has a way of making a good train photo into an arresting one.’ Scroll down for a preview of 10 of the book’s atmospheric images…

‘The calendar says spring, but the weather says winter,’ Danneman writes as he describes this photo that he took in Colorado in April 1999. The train in the shot is Amtrak train five, also known as the California Zephyr, which runs between Chicago and San Francisco. It’s pictured climbing the Front Range mountains of the Rockies on its way west  

Snowpiercer: In this image, a railroad plough belonging to the Kyle Railroad – identified by Danneman as Kyle plough MKW 06 – punches through snow as it heads west through Ruleton in Kansas. According to the author, the shot was taken shortly after a large snowstorm had stifled all transportation in the area

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Taken west of Edson, Kansas, in January 2007, this shot shows Kyle Railroad’s MWK 06 plough clearing snow with its ‘pacing truck’ to the right on the highway, which is letting the plough’s crew know how much snow is ahead and how much effort it will take to move it, the author reveals. Danneman says: ‘Flying blind through the snow, a Kyle plough gets its “eyes” ahead from a railroad vehicle. There is no way for the crew to see much ahead of the giant blades of the plough, let alone with all the snow flying around. The pacing truck lets the crew know what is ahead’

This shot – taken in Dalton, New Mexico, in February 2020 – features a rotary snowplough, the Cumbres & Toltec Rotary OY. In the introduction to his book, Danneman calls the rotary snowplough ‘the ultimate snow-fighting machine’. He writes: ‘These ploughs have a large circular wheel equipped with cutting blades that spin and chew through deep snow, sending it out a rooftop chute, well off the right of way. Railroads don’t like to call on the rotaries very often, as they are expensive to operate’

This shot, taken in December 2007, captures a BNSF Railway double-stack intermodal train (essentially a train that can carry two layers of freight containers) as it travels away from the mountains of Glacier National Park in Montana. Danneman explains that the train in this shot was fighting crosswinds

Writing about this photograph, Danneman says: ‘A heavy fog is finally lifting in the Heber Valley of Utah at sunrise on February 6, 2007. Union Pacific 2-8-0 No. 618 storms past with a freight train as the sun tries in vain to cut through the moisture hanging in the frigid air’

Danneman took this photograph in February 1993 from a viewpoint in Grandad Bluff, a city park that rises 590 feet (179 metres) above the city of La Crosse in Wisconsin. It shows the Burlington Northern intermodal train 47 transporting goods past the snow-strewn city

LEFT: In this image, a snow-covered mountain range in Glacier National Park, Montana, towers above Burlington Northern train 1 as it heads west. Danneman describes the weather on this day back in March 1989 as ‘frigid’. RIGHT: The bitter cold can play havoc on track, reveals Danneman, who reveals that this December 1994 shot captures two Wisconsin trackmen fixing track bolts that were sheared off when the rail contracted. He explains: ‘A kerosene-soaked rope is placed alongside the offending rail and lit, creating enough heat for the rail to expand, closing up the joint, and allowing the holes to once again line up for new bolts to be installed.’ A train approaches in the distance, but would have waited until the workmen finished their job before continuing its journey

Shot in Sharon Springs, Kansas, in January 2007, this photo shows a crew member from Union Pacific rotary snowplough No. 900082 scraping snow and ice off the plough during a crew change

Winter Railroading by Mike Danneman is published by Amberley Publishing and retails at £15.99

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