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Vintage Kandiyohi County snowplow to be sold

Bud Radunz, a retired mechanic for the Kandiyohi County Highway Department, checks the oil on the old snow blower the county intends to sell this summer. Believed to be a 1937 model, the Snogo rotary blower powered with a Climax Blue Streak engine, is valued by collectors. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange 1 / 2
The county's oldest snow plow. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange2 / 2

WILLMAR -- A vintage snowplow that cleared thousands of miles of Kandiyohi County roads for nearly 50 years -- and was being saved in hopes of restoring it -- will instead be put on the auction block.

The Kandiyohi County Highway Department is putting its unused, outdated and too-expensive-to-maintain vehicles up for sale through an online government surplus auction sometime this summer.

On the list of sale items is a "Snogo" snowplow.

With a massive, three-tier line of rotary blades, powered by a Climax Blue Streak engine and mounted on the front of a 1942 FWD Co. truck, the Snogo chewed through snow for decades before it was retired about 15 years ago, when it became too difficult to find replacement parts.

"It served us very well," said Steve Lindgren, maintenance supervisor at the county highway department.

"As long as you keep it on the road, there's not much that'll stop it," said Bud Radunz, a retired county highway mechanic who spent more time than anybody in the highway department fixing the plow.

Even though the faded orange vehicle hasn't been used for many years, it's always been stored inside a county building with plans to refurbish it.

Kandiyohi County Public Works Director Gary Danielson envisioned the snowplow being driven in community parades.

But the harsh reality is that the Highway Department has neither the time nor the money to restore a well-worn collector's item and has decided to sell it.

Ideally, Danielson would like the vehicle to be purchased by someone who appreciates the history of the Snogo plow and its workhorse Climax Blue Streak engine and would restore it.

The absolute worst-case scenario would be selling it simply for the value of scrap metal, he said.

At one time the Minnesota State Fair had expressed interest in obtaining the plow for its display, but nothing came of that.

"It'd be nice to preserve it," said Danielson, who hopes it can stay in Kandiyohi County.

If the right preservation group came along and made an offer, Danielson said it's possible the county would consider pulling it off the auction list.

When the county purchased the used 1942 Snogo plow in 1950, it arrived with a wooden cab that was replaced with a used International cab a few years later.

The truck engine was also overhauled and "was in running order when we parked it," said Radunz, who thought that with a little nursing he could have it running again.

It was pulled out from the storage building this week for the first time since it was decommissioned, so that it can be cleaned up and photographed prior to the auction.

"They don't make them like this anymore, thank goodness," said Danielson, as he climbed out of the cab. "It was a man-killer."

Radunz concurred that the plow provided a rough ride in a cold cab that had operators wearing sheepskin pants to stay warm.

But the highway crew has an obvious fondness for the old vehicle and respect for the work it performed in keeping county roads drivable in the winter.

Lindgren said the Climax Blue Streak provided a spectacular sight when the gas engine fired off a 1½-foot-tall blue streak from the top exhaust pipe into the night sky on a snowy county road. "It was pretty," he said.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for 35 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750