The Christmas Blizzard of 2009 is in the record
books. It joins the other great blizzards, the most
recent being 1996 going all the way back to the 1840's,
when we began keeping written records of the weather.
This year's stories about being stranded related more
to passengers at the airports with a few problems
out on the highways.
In Fremont County, the drifts along Highway 275
from Tabor to Hamburg were the top story. For a
time they were totally impassable making some wonder
what would happen if an emergency made it necessary
to get a person to the hospital. Eventually, they
were cleared with massive trucks with snow blades
taller than the average person. Residents living
on the back roads of the county had to wait a day
or so for their roads to be opened. While they waited,
they watched television to keep in touch with all
that was happening.
Back in the forties and fifties, gravel roads were
more prevalent than in earlier times. They allowed
for better travel but they were still not everywhere.
When bad weather threatened families that lived
up long dirt lanes or near dirt roads would park
their cars on the good roads. Then they got to the
car down the mud road by using a tractor pulling
a wagon. In winter that required lots of warm clothes
but it was the only way out until roads dried up.
When the farmers cleared their roads they used
horses and the occasional tractor pulling a drag.
The drag was a system of chains forming a "V'
and weighted down to break through the drifts.
In the thirties, children living in the country
accepted that getting to school meant walking to
their country school or to the bus route to go to
town. Sometimes they walked on hard crusted drifts
with fence poles sticking out only a few inches.
And yes, they could get very cold before they arrived
in their classroom.
If a storm blew in while the children were in school
it could be difficult to find their way home. Stories
are told of students, especially out on the prairie,
who were wise to stay in their school houses until
a snowstorm ended. Those who tried to walk through
a blizzard did not always arrive home.
Imagine what it would be like without our modern
communication that can tell us where our children
are at any given time. Imagine a time when houses
were not insulated, when central heating was infrequent.
And even imagine a time before snowplows and emergency
vehicles could come to your aid. Many a baby was
born during a blizzard with only family members