Spreader (railroad)

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Jordan Spreader
Former Canadian Pacific Railway Jordan Spreader in the Saskatchewan Railway Museum.
Manufacturer O.F. Jordan Company
Constructed 1900–

A spreader is a type of maintenance equipment designed to spread or shape ballast profiles. The spreader spreads gravel along the railroad ties. The various ploughs, wings and blades of specific spreaders allow them to remove snow, build banks, clean and dig ditches, evenly distribute gravel, as well as trim embankments of brush along the side of the track.[1][2][3] The operation of the wings was once performed by compressed air, and later hydraulics.[4] Besides the MoW-operation spreaders are also used in open cast mines to clean the tracks from overburden tipped from dump cars.

Jordan spreader history[edit]

A Jordan Spreader adapted for snow-fighting

The Jordan spreader was the creation of Oswald F. Jordan, a Canadian road master who worked in the Niagara, Ontario area on the Canada Southern Railway, later a subsidiary of the New York Central Railroad. He designed the Jordan spreader as a multi-purpose MoW vehicle with adjustable blades and ploughs to allow improved conformation to the railbed. He supervised a crew at the St. Thomas Canada Southern shop in the early 1890s. He formed his own company, O.F. Jordan Company, in 1898 and continued construction of Jordan Spreaders.[2] Walter Riley was appointed manager following Jordan's death in 1910 and directed the company for 50 years and the construction of 1,400 spreaders. Jordan spreaders are available by special order from Harsco Rail.[5]

Pneumatics used to open and close wings

In 2001, the Jordan Spreader was inducted into the North America Railway Hall of Fame in the "Local:Technical Innovation" category.[6] It shared this selection with another technical innovation, the rotary snowplow.


  1. ^ "Welcome to Saskrailmuseum.org". Jordan Spreader 402871. September 11, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  2. ^ a b "BRS Canadian Pacific Railway Jordan Spreader No. 402818". September 11, 2008. Archived from the original on April 13, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  3. ^ "NAR Work Train". The Alberta Pioneer Railway Association. 2007. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  4. ^ "1920's - Railway Jordan Spreader Controls". Yahoo!. May 24, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-03. 
  5. ^ "Jordan Spreader". North America Railway Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2016-02-11. 
  6. ^ The North America Railway Hall of Fame inductee: The Jordan Spreader

External links[edit]