1972-02-25 - 'The Story of the 574'

On February 25, 1972 train #324 traveling in a typical Maine snowstorm between Rockland and Bayside (near Waldoboro), encountered a snowplow extra travelling Westbound clearing the mainline. On the point of train #324 was 6 year old locomotive GP-38 251.

The plow extra was clearing the Rockland branch from Brunswick to Rockland, doing the main West and the passing sidings going East. At the helm of the plow was my Uncle "Chick" Coulombe with GP-7 574 in the green and gold powering the extra. The engineer was Gordon Sears and the conductor was Dominic Veccioni.

As I understand it from the recollections of my uncle, the plow was given permission to do it's work to Rockland and #324 was to hold the siding in Rockland until the plow train arrived. 324 apparently did not heed the order and proceeded to East Waldoboro where the accident occurred.

As you can see from the picture, the plow took the brunt of the impact. While in the "perch" above the plow controlling the flanger, my uncle was thrown backward into the lower section of the plow where the pot-bellied stove that supplied the heat for the plow and it's men landed on his back. Chick received 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his back and legs thus ending his 32+ years for the Maine Central.

The plow was not rebuilt but the 251 received minor damage and was repaired at the Waterville shops in about 2 weeks. The 574 was not so fortunate, it had to be reconstructed with a new low nose (to the delight of the future engine crews) and also received a new paint job (likewise the 251). The restoration of the 574 took about a year and was also done by the great crew at the Waterville shops.

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