500 HP Snow Engine

By Staff
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The Snow engine fronts two Westinghouse engines at the old power station.
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The old power station, now a roller rink, as it looks today.

The engine in the foreground of the photograph shown above is a 500 HP Snow twin-tandem, double-acting natural gas engine that was once housed in the main generating station of the Olean, Bradford and Salamanca Railway Co. in western New York. The railway was an electric interurban line that operated between its namesake cities.

This engine was built by the Snow Steam Pump Works of Buffalo, N.Y., and according to the Snow serial number listing at the Coolspring Power Museum archives, this was engine number 85. It had a bore and stroke of 16×30 inches and was rated at 500 HP. It was originally sold to the Olean Street Railway Co., a predecessor company of the Olean, Bradford and Salamanca Railway Co. Unfortunately, the list does not include any dates. Judging from the specifications, this has to be one of the smallest twin-tandem double-acting engines made.

Up until 1908, power for running the railway was generated by two Hamilton Corliss steam engines driving 200 KW General Electric generators. These were then replaced with the two Westinghouse single-tandem, double-acting 500 HP engines seen in the background of the photo. The Snow was a later addition. All three engines were direct connected to General Electric three-phase alternators rated at 300 KW each. The voltage was generated at 370 volts AC and stepped up to 19,000 volts AC, which was then transmitted along the rail line to eight rotary converters that provided the 600 volts DC for traction.

The company had 21 natural gas wells to supply fuel for the station.

Declining ridership forced the company out of business and power was cut off on Sept. 1, 1927. The station building, which still exists today, is located about a mile east of the village of Ceres, N.Y., along Mew York Route 417. It was eventually converted into a roller skating rink and is now known as the ‘Coliseum.’ The two 16-inch inside diameter cast iron exhaust elbows from the Westinghouse engines still protrude from the foundation.

Contact engine enthusiast Michael Fuoco at: 656 W. Washington St., Bradford, PA 16701.

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