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January 1949 and 1952

Blizzards Trap City of San Francisco

Said to be the worst storm to hit the railroad since the early 1870s, the New Year’s blizzard brought traffic across the Plains to a standstill. One of the trains affected, the westbound City of San Francisco, met 10-foot drifts in Kimball, Neb. Amid below-zero temperatures and howling winds, passengers and crew took refuge at a local hotel. It was the same story all along the line. Union Pacific dispatched 14,000 men, tons of equipment and sticks of dynamite to break through the drifts. Three years later, the worst series of blizzards in 50 years stalled the same extra-fare Streamliner near Donner Pass, trapping 222 passengers for days. Amphibious Army vehicles delivered emergency food supplies. The train got free after five days.

Event Media

A rotary snowplow was used to clear UP’s main line in the Blizzard of 1949. The plow was called into service again during the record snows in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Winter 1993.

In 2012, Union Pacific celebrates the shared stories that have shaped our country since 1862. To mark our 150th anniversary, we invite you to explore how the nation’s largest railroad came to be and how UP continues to build America with innovation and tenacity, touching the lives of nearly every citizen.