The ghosts of snowfalls past

As we bid adieu to snow and flu, take a look at what our ancestors went through


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Photos



  • Goshen after the infamous Blizzard of 1888, looking north up Main Street. The porch on the building on the left was later removed. Today the building is the home of Baxter’s Pharmacy. The snow started around 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, and continued on and off through Tuesday the 13th, ending around 3 a.m. on Wednesday the 14th. The total was reported to be 46.7 inches, with drifts considerably higher.




  • A heavy snowfall began on Sunday, Feb. 12, 1899, and continued through Monday night, Feb. 13. On Feb. 14, 1899, Chester photographer Razey took this photo showing a somberly dressed yet cheerful-looking group posed in front of a printer’s shop that occupied the former Chester National Bank (now long gone). It's located on the hill opposite Chester Village Hall, itself occupying the second home of Chester National Bank.




  • The hardy Chester group of February 1899 was photographed again, posed between banks of snow, and looking not nearly as friendly. Nearly three feet of snow fell, tying up railroad and trolley lines. Trains were abandoned. Streets were impassable, with drifts up to 10 or more feet high. It also rendered communication by telephone and telegraph uncertain. Thousands of extra men were hired to remove snow from the length of the Erie Railroad’s tracks. They were paid $1.50 a day, with extra for night work.




  • A heavy snowfall fell from Sunday, March 1, through Monday, March 2, 1914. Newspaper reports described it as a howling gale on Sunday and stated that at short intervals the Northern Lights could be seen in the sky, flashing from north to south in waves. The damage to poles and wires was said to exceed that of the Blizzard of 1888. This photo shows the view from the front of the Erie RR station in Chester. About two feet of snow fell, but there was already a foot of snow on the ground from a previous storm.




  • Some hardy fellows helped free a car, something we still have to do today. The exact date of the photo is unknown, but it is believed to be between 1913 and 1920. Again, muscle power and shovels were the order of the day. (The fellow sitting on the hood is not helping.)




By Ginny Privitar

— Had enough snow?

Old Man Winter has seen fit to pummel us lately. But with the aid of plows and blowers, local streets and sidewalks were quickly swept clean.

Pity our poor ancestors, who had only shovels and muscle power to clear away the white stuff. And snowfalls in the past could be massive.

Of course, there was the infamous March Blizzard of 1888, when snow started around 3 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, and continued on and off through Tuesday the 13th, ending around 3 a.m. on Wednesday the 14th. The total was reported to be 46.7 inches, with considerably higher drifts.

Eleven years later, another heavy snowfall began on Sunday, Feb. 12, 1899, and continued through Monday night, Feb. 13. On Feb. 14, 1899, a photo taken by Chester photographer Razey shows a somberly dressed yet cheerful-looking group posed in front of a printer’s shop that occupied the former Chester National Bank (now long gone). It's located on the hill opposite Chester Village Hall, itself occupying the second home of Chester National Bank.

The hardy group was photographed again, posed between banks of snow, and looking not nearly as friendly. Nearly three feet of snow fell, tying up railroad and trolley lines. Trains were abandoned. Streets were impassable, with drifts up to 10 or more feet high. It also rendered communication by telephone and telegraph uncertain. Thousands of extra men were hired to remove snow from the length of the Erie Railroad’s tracks. They were paid $1.50 a day, with extra for night work.

The Independent Republican of Feb. 14, 1899, reported the following:

“Yesterday afternoon the Erie sent its rotary snow plow eastward along the line. It passed through Goshen about four o’clock going at a two minute gait and spouting snow like a geyser. It picked up the beautiful white snow which covered the Greenwich Street crossing and hurled it against the front of Conrad Riverkamp’s hotel, smashing in the door at the family entrance, breaking a lot of windows and distributing the snow over Mrs. Riverkamp’s choicest furniture and bric-a-brac in the family sitting room.”

Another heavy snowfall fell from Sunday, March 1, through Monday, March 2, 1914. Newspaper reports described it as a howling gale on Sunday and stated that at short intervals the Northern Lights could be seen in the sky, flashing from north to south in waves. The damage to poles and wires was said to exceed that of the Blizzard of 1888. A photo shows the view from the front of the Erie RR station. About two feet of snow fell, but there was already a foot of snow on the ground from a previous storm.

Some hardy fellows helped free a car, something we still have to do today. The exact date of the photo is unknown, but it is believed to be between 1913 and 1920. Again, muscle power and shovels were the order of the day. (The fellow sitting on the hood is not helping.)

So far this winter, at least, we can be grateful that the snowfall wasn't so bad, and, thanks to modern machines, we can quickly get back to our regular routines.







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