Tractor Train to Byrd

first tractor train from LAV to Byrd Station

This is another photo by Jim Waldron, who wintered here at Little America V (LAV or LA5) during 1956-57. These tractor trains, driven by LGP D8s and similar equipment, were "proven technology" developed in Greenland. A trail was surveyed and developed between LA5 and the original Byrd Station site; at the edge of the Ross Ice Shelf the crevasses were located, marked, blasted out, and filled in with snow. This was the first such traverse leaving LAV for the Byrd Station construction site on 4 December 1956 and arriving on the 23rd (larger size photo). This traverse had six "units"--LGP D8's, two with derricks, as well as one small Sno-Cat that would be fitted with crevasse detection equipment as needed. Most of the construction cargo for the original Byrd Station was transported in this manner. There was no convenient surface path to Pole, so most of that construction material was airdropped from Air Force C-124 Globemasters. These were wheeled aircraft so they had to operate off the annual ice runway at McM.

A few years later the ski-equipped LC-130 was introduced to the ice, and after much study these aircraft supplanted the surface supply route for the construction of the new buried Byrd in the early 1960's.

In the late 1980's when NSF started planning for the construction of the next Pole Station, they started researching blue ice runways and state-of-the-art traverse vehicles in order to determine the best way to deliver the massive quantities of construction material to Pole. The bottom line decision was...LC-130 aircraft. Early in 2000 NSF has opted to recondition and upgrade 2 of the mothballed former VXE-6 aircraft...