A History of Snow Plows & Snow Plowing

The most widely accepted commercial tool for snow removal is the snow plow. This is especially useful in large capacities. In modern times, a snow plow consist of a large pick-up truck with a large plow that is permanently attached. Some plows will an electric and / or hydraulics used to raise and lower them. Even larger plows may be affixed to a very large tractor, backhoe or loader. Some of which may contain more then one large plow and even distribute salt as they plow. Aside from pickup trucks, snow plows can also be found on other types of vehicles such as a personal SUV or even a small riding mower that is traditionally used to cut grass in the summer. Snow plows are also used to mount on rail cars to remove snow from train tracks.

Where snow blowers work by use of an impeller to draw snow into the chute a snow plow works different and uses a much simpler concept. Using the force of the vehicle the snow plow is pushed either forward or on an angle. The blade of the snow plow captures the snow and forces it towards the direction of the vehicle clearing the surface previously covered.

The earliest versions of a snow plow were powered by horses. The wedge-type blades were made of wood. Since the invention of the automobile the snow plow was logically adopted and converted for use with vehicles. Patents for snow plows were issued as far back as the early 1920's. The first infamous plow for vehicles was created by two brothers named Hans and Even Overaasen from Norway. They constructed a plow for use on vehicles which was soon paved the way for traditional equipment used today to clear roads, railways and airports. Soon after the Overaasen Snow Removal Systems came into being. Another milestone inventor by the name of Carl Frink was also considered an early manufacturer car-mounted snow plows. His company, Frink Snowplows, which was based out of Clayton, New York, was created in 1920 and still runs today under the name Frink-America.

Trains and snow plowing go back as far as the mid-1800's. An interesting invention known as the rotary snow plow was created by a Canadian dentist named JW Elliot. A rotary snow plow contains a set of blades positioned in a circle. It works by rotating the blades and cutting through the snow as the train moves forward. The rotary snow plow was conceived after ungoing problems with the traditional wedge plow. The wedge snow plow, which works like many plows today, simply could not move the snow side quick enough for trains. The rotary snow plow requires the power of an engine to rotate the blades. Typically, a second engine is used to assist in moving the train while the first one in front is responsible for removing the snow. As the blades turn the snow is lifted through a channel and forced to the top out the chute. The operator sets up top in a cab behind the chute he or she has the ability to control the direction of the chute and rate of speed of the blades. These controls eventually led back to the 'pushing' engine so that the operator of a pushing locomotive could have control. In areas where sever snow fall is called for the use of 'double' or 'duel' rotary engines were put into use. The engines would contain rotary plows on both ends. They were often effective in clearing snow from rail stations and in situations where the snow continued to accumulate after going in one direction.

The earliest rotary blades were power by stem engines while newer ones are powered by gas or electricity. Due to the advancement of newer technologies rotary blades are seldom used anymore. They are also very expensive to maintain an only used as a last resort by many railway companies.

Plows were a godsend to citizens in the late 1800's. It helped ease the stresses of transportation. While horse-drawn plow was uncommon in most cities in North America in the 1860's – it soon became widespread with popularity. However with the clearing of roadways came a new problem that we still see today. While paving effectively cleared roadways it blocked the sidewalks and side roads that pedestrians used to travel on. Piles of snow lined the sides of streets. Citizens complained and even thought about lawsuits targeting plowing companies. Store owners complained that their store fronts were inaccessible to customers because of the mounds of snow left behind as a result of plowing. Pedestrians had to exceed the snow while walking down sidewalks. Sleigh riders also became annoyed as the resulting plowed surface created ruts and uneven surfaces.

The citizens of major cities across North America responded in several ways. They hired people to shovel the walkways and horse-drawn carts to remove the snow. Often, they worked in conjunction with the plow companies to haul the snow away into nearby rivers. This not only resolved the issues for pedestrians and store owners but also created a small surplus of jobs for the winter season. This can still be seen today.

Restoring the luster of your wooden cutting boards and butcher blocks is easy and inexpensive! There are many products on the market you can use that come in fancy packaging, but it is easy to prepare your own DIY product. Keeping your cutting boards conditioned prolongs their life and keeps them sanitary so it's good to have something on hand for regular use. This article shares three very easy recipes for treating your butcher boards when they have become dry, need refinishing, or repair.

You will need:

Food grade mineral oil



Container - glass jars and old coffee cans work great

Pot - to use as double boiler

Sanitized stir stick - wooden ones work great

Always start with an impeccably clean and super dry butcher board. Wash it down with vinegar the night before and let it air dry while you sleep. The next morning, condition your clean dry board using one of the following methods.

The first method isn't really a "recipe" at all. It's just plain old food grade mineral oil. There are loads of different ideas out there on which oils go rancid and which oils are best to use. In general, food grade mineral oil is considered the best all around oil to use on your wooden cutting surfaces. It is odorless, colorless, inexpensive, and most definitely will not go rancid. It can be easily found at your local hardware store or drug store. To treat your butcher board with mineral oil gently rub warmed oil onto the wood and allow it to soak in. Get your oil warm, not hot. If you are like me and do not have a "nuker", simply use a double boiler on the stove top. Just be careful as the oil is obviously flammable. This is a great regular treatment to keep your board conditioned.

The second recipe is for a creamy board oil or "Dream Cream" as I call it. This is a rich mixture of mineral oil and beeswax. Adding beeswax to your oil increases its water resistance and adds a very slight luster to the finish. Parafin can also be used. It is odorless and much less expensive; however, I personally prefer beeswax. This is a great treatment for a board that has become very dry or has been sanded down for refinishing. The recipe calls for 9 parts food grade mineral oil to 1 part beeswax.

Measure out 1 part wax to 9 parts oil. Wax beads are available or you can shave wax pieces off a block like I did.

Heat the oil and wax slowly until the oil is warm and the wax has melted. Make sure to stir and incorporate the wax as it melts.

Pour a little of the melted product onto your butcher board and rub it in making sure to get all surfaces, especially the cut edges. Allow it to soak in before using the board to prepare food. The consistency of this recipe is a little like hair gel after it cools a bit and gets firmer as it gets colder. It will melt into the board like butter as you apply it. It can be used warm or cold; However, I think it works better and faster when it's warm.

The third recipe is for a paste style "board wax". This is a rich ultra fat mixture of oil and beeswax. It is thick and waxy and offers loads of water resistance once the wax has hardened. It can be buffed to a soft luster and looks beautiful. Use this recipe as a polishing paste or crack filler. Keeping the occasional cracks and knife marks filled extends the life of your board!

This recipe is 4-5 parts food grade mineral oil to 1 part beeswax. Heat the oil and incorporate the wax as above. Rub it into the board. Allow the oil to soak in and the wax to harden before buffing it out and preparing food on it. If used warm, this wax will spread a thinner layer. If used cold it is quite thick and pasty and will give you a heavier coating.

Your wood should be treated regularly to keep it from drying out and cracking! The treatment frequency and the type of butcher block oil you need to use depends on many variables; such as climate and how often your board is used and washed. You will have to be the judge. These "recipes" will not only beautifully condition your butcher board but will add to its lifetime. They will also keep indefinitely. Once you have a batch made up it will be easy to grab off the shelf and use all year long!