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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Saturday Night Blizzard

Saturday Night Blizzard

GRHC - February 2nd, 2011

It's been known to happen. It happened in Grand Rapids, MI, in January, 1898.    



The worst storm in over twenty years struck the city on a Saturday night in January of 1898. The first installment arrived about noon but it was nothing compared with the gale of wind and the avalanche of snow that came in the evening.

All traffic was suspended, merchants gave up any idea of doing business, and the one great desire everywhere was to get home. But this was not easily accomplished. The sidewalks were impassable, streets were completely blocked, and streetcar service, a major source of pre-automotive transportation, was crippled.

The street railway company attempted to maintain service. On the level lines, especially those on the West Side, it was bad enough, but on the hill lines they were finally compelled to admit defeat. One car on the Cherry St. line, loaded with passengers, spent one hour and twenty-five minutes trying to climb the hill from Division Ave., but could not get further than Lafayette St.

Three monstrous motor plows of the circular sweeper kind were put to use as were three sets of snow plows drawn by two teams of horses in tandem. It was soon apparent that the plows were of little consequence. They just jammed into the deep banks of wet, heavy, snow and stopped.

Everyone that could be reached was set to work. Not only trackmen, but conductors and motormen were given shovels and every man worked all night. Even so, twenty streetcars in various parts of the city were snowed in and had to be abandoned.


Full Details

TitleSaturday Night Blizzard
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, radio, blizzard, January, 1898, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, Podcast
Pubdate StringFebruary 2nd, 2011

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