Unexpected: Snow Removal

By DPLA, January 27, 2015.
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[Today we’re starting a new series on our blog, called Unexpected. With over eight million items in our collection (and growing!), there are countless unusual artifacts, and since we now bring together 1,400 different libraries, archives, museums, and cultural heritage sites in one place, we can begin to associate these surprising sources into rich categories and themes. Unexpected will showcase some of the most, well, unexpected, items and topics—just the tip of the DPLA iceberg. We hope the series inspires you to explore our collection further, to tell others about DPLA, and to use our materials for education, research, and just plain fun. —Dan Cohen]

The history of snow removal is a history of American ingenuity, in which the basic desire to get rid of the white stuff mixes in combustible and bewildering ways with the eccentric inclination to forge monstrous new machines.

Patents for snow removal stretch back through the nineteenth century. This patent for a snow plow, filed by David Grove in 1882, didn’t push the snow; it ingested it through its giant mouth and spat it out the side.


[Image courtesy UNT Libraries Government Documents Department via the Portal to Texas History]

Is there anything conveyor belts can’t do? This design from around 1930 tests that proposition.

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[Image from the Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth]

Did you know that you can put a plow on virtually anything? The historical record says yes. Have a horse and some metal? You’ve got yourself a plow.


[Image from the Boston Public Library via Digital Commonwealth]

But don’t stop there. Go all the way, tinkerer friend. Get yourself some flywheels, some big gears, a few spare I-beams, cables and chains, and go to town.


[Image from the New York Public Library]

Are all the kids in the neighborhood going to come out to watch? You bet.

Perhaps you have a train. In that case, try a rotating plow of death.

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[Image from Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library via the Mountain West Digital Library]

Live in Montana and have a train? You’re gonna need a bigger plow.


[Image from the University of Montana-Missoula’s Mansfield Library Archives & Special Collections via the Montana Memory Project]

And why go with the standard truck plow when you can multiply the effect by having two plows and shoot snow out of both sides of your monster truck.


[Video from the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection via the Digital Library of Georgia]

Hope everyone in the Northeast enjoys the snow day, and remember, don’t use a shovel when you can let your imagination run wild—in the snow and in the Digital Public Library of America.