Always plowing forward
In 1957, Mankato, Minn., purchased a used 21-passenger bus for $250 for ice control services, which improved worker safety and efficiency. The vehicles allowed workers to spread salt more quickly and to work from inside the vehicle, which kept them warm during the winter season. A mechanic from the street department converted the 1948 International-manufactured bus by fitting it with a salt spreader and cutting holes in the floor at the rear of the bus to distribute salt, according to the February 1961 issue of The American City. Two years later, the city purchased another bus — a 1950 Chevrolet — for $300 and used both vehicles to spread 90 percent of the city’s salt. “When streets become slippery, Mankatoans now look forward to the appearance of our converted school buses which, in their opinion, still carry a precious load,” then-City Manager E.G. Hill said.
Today, Mankato’s Public Works Department operates a fleet of 24 trucks for snow plowing and anti-icing services. Two vehicles are equipped with anti-icing equipment, while eight vehicles are used for both plowing and salt distribution. The remaining vehicles, manufactured by Warrenville, Ill.-based International and Redford Township, Mich.-based Sterling, are only used for plowing. The city also recently purchased an additional truck for snowplowing from Allentown, Pa.-based Mack Trucks. The department still uses salt and salt-based materials to control ice on the city’s roadways. Each year, the department treats 153 road miles and 17 miles of alleys in the city.