How snow removal used to be

Posted:  Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 8:15am

Snow-plowing was a lot tougher back in the good old days. The proof is in the pictures Tammy Shaw Given has been posting on the Jack A. Shaw and Sons Facebook page. Given, the Woolwich’s contractor’s office manager, has collected some pretty interesting photographs of vintage snow-removing vehicles.

“I just started searching for them online one day and found dozens.” A few other old photographs were on file in the company’s archives.

Her collection includes a picture of a man sanding a road the old fashioned way, from the bed of a dump truck! Others show some of the other contraptions used.

Shaws Construction is one of three local contractors Woolwich hires to plow snow and sand its 43 miles of town roads. The others are Quonset Hardscape, owned by Geoff McCarron, and Landscapers, owned by David Jewell.

“Terrible,” is how Jason Shaw of the Shaw firm describes this winter. “It’s been a challenge for all of us,” he said Monday, March 12, the day before the latest storm was due to strike. Shaw, a selectman, is responsible for plowing Middle Road (Route 127) all the way to the Dresden line.

“Spring storms are almost always more difficult to plow because the snow is usually wet and very heavy. The ground’s no longer frozen and so if a road isn’t paved you’re apt to get a good deal of mud, too,” he said.

Shaw hopes the coming storm will be the last one of the season. “It’s really been a strange winter. We started with a mild November but then we had the frigid temperatures pretty much all through December. In January it was lots of ice along with snow we were dealing with. Now with spring just a week away it’s more snow!”

Shaw said he gets a kick out of seeing some of the crazy contraptions used to remove snow in the old days. “The way I understand it,  when automobiles were still a new thing, they simply didn’t drive them when it snowed, they’d put them in storage until the snow melted from the roads.

“Spring’s not too far off now, a sure sign is we have a good deal of road heaving going on,” added Shaw.