Posted by on December 27, 2010

Well, it’s after Christmas and amid the crowds of shoppers looking for deals and returning unwanted gifts, a large portion of the country has been zapped with massive amounts of snow.  Being stuck in the middle of all of this, I thought it would be a great post to investigate how previous Americans dealt with the snow and ice…are things any different?  Let’s take a look!

Everyday life

Much like today, snow in many forms equally paralyzed our ancestors as they struggled to do the daily routines.  However, without many of the snow blowers, truck-mounted plows and other automated machinery we’ve grown accustomed to today things were quite a bit different.  In this post from Google’s News Archive, we read this about the 1960 snowstorm that hit Norwalk Conn.:

“Numbers of cars remained stranded along the highway…Several thousand commuters, unable to get home, jammed the…North Station Terminal…”

That was just in 1960!  Earlier generation struggled even more.  The blizzard of 1888 recorded record amounts of snowfall, with, according to Wikipedia, snowdrifts of some 50ft. in height!


There’s something about snow and the sense of a bigger struggle against nature.  Taking away the easiness of modern life helps us to us realize how dependent we are on the conveniences of electricity and other inventions.  For a trip back as well as some thrilling stories, here’s a few selections from Google Books to help get you started.

Original Journals of Lewis & Clark

“…The frost fell last night nearly a 1/4 of an inch deep and continued to fall until the sun…”

Adventures Of A Nature Guide

“…The thermometer was thirty-six below, and a blizzard had been roaring…”


For the more adventuresome, traveling in snow and ice always has been a mixture of fun wrapped behind facets of sheer terror.  While modern autombiles and front-wheel drive have supplemented the earlier rear-drive, doughnut-making cars that used to navigate the snowy passes, make sure you try Google Books and back issues of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science to see how previous generations went to great lengths to combat the snow.  As outlined in the above picture, it was always a challenge!  Direct link for the image above can be found below or here.

MORE Information?

While our blog post prevents us from going into too much detail on this frosty subject, make sure you try the links below for lots more details and information!  Stay warm and we will be back soon!  Happy holidays and Happy New Year!

Links & Sources:

NOAA Historical Weather Archives

Airmail and Snow! (Popular Mechanics)

Stories of Adventure (Short Stories & Snow!) (Historical)

Original Journals of Lewis & Clark

Adventures Of A Nature Guide

Norwalk Hour (Newspaper)

Popular Mechanics (Snow Feature)

Comments are closed.