The Sno-Melter (1960)

Illustration for article titled The Sno-Melter (1960)

Having recently moved to Los Angeles from Minneapolis, my experience with snow this year has been limited to pixel-drenched dispatches that family and friends have beamed out from the unforgiving tundra. With historic blizzards, closed schools and caved in stadiums it sounds like the snowy season has been off to a punishing start in my homeland. It's times like these when I gaze at my "What Would Arthur Radebaugh Do?" bracelet. Burn the snow, of course! Kill it with fire!

Snow piles and drifts on highways and turnpikes may soon be a thing of the past. Esso Research and Engineering Company has already devised a system for clearing urban roadways that is reported to be cheaper than under-pavement steam or electric coils. A trough is built alongside the road and kept half-filled with water which is heated by oil and air fed units at the bottom. Snow channeled into the trough melts instantly.

Variations of this system can be evolved for cross-country roads. Flame-belching snow-melting highway equipment is even now on the drawing boards.

Next week: Circle Runways

Many thanks to Tom Z. for the color version of this Closer Than We Think panel from January 3, 1960.


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Burning at a temperature of 1500°F, the flame throwing jets melt the snow at a rate of 1 inch a minute!

The oil contaminated meltwater is then safely diverted through the channels to the nearest river, where it will be cleanly disposed of!