Anderson Family History

1934 South Dakota Blizzard

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DAKOTA WINTERS

Winter would bring blizzards on occasion that would paralyze the entire community for weeks at a time. One of the most severe storms that I remember was in 1934 when drifts piled up fifteen feet high in places and bobsled and horses were about the only way for people to get around. In order to take care of their animals, many farmers had to tunnel through the drifts to reach their barns. One farmer (I believe his name was August Schultz) was found in his yard froze to death. Many animals also died in these winter storms.

When the big storm ended, the county highway department sent out equipment to get the roads open. On the road near the church was a hard-packed drift about ten feet deep and probably fifty feet long that was exceptionally hard to break through. The county’s large 4-wheel drive truck with a six-foot high vee-plow on the front worked at busting through this huge drift. The truck would back up several feet, take a run at the drift, and with luck might penetrate a foot or two at a time, bucking the snow to the sides. The crew worked at this one drift for several hours when the truck, on one of its shattering lunges at the nearly impenetrable wall of snow, snapped a drive-line

Many hours of shoveling were required to gain enough room for them to repair the unit and several days passed before they finally conquered the drifts with a one-way trail through the deepest areas.

I remember one winter storm when we had been to my Aunt Hilma’s residence in the Ramsey valley, 6 miles east of Center. We headed for home in a mild blizzard that got worse and worse, and about two miles east of Center we were hopelessly stuck. We were in sight of Gust T. Larson’s farmhouse and that is where our family ended up spending the night. Larsons were also snowbound at someone else’s home and it was late the next day that we got a ride in a horse-drawn bobsled back to the store. I believe it was two days after the storm before Dad got the car shoveled out. It was nice no one locked their houses back then so we could find shelter.

By Allan Anderson, 2005.

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