A Fierce Storm
By Dick Perue
As the winter of 2023 continues to blow across the Cowboy State, chatter at the “old geezers coffee klatch” recalls other bad winters such as the blizzard of 1949 – the year we had to move off of the Pick Ranch because we couldn’t get to town to go to school.
Others recall the bitter cold and snow of 1974, while some discuss the winter of 1982-83, with its continual snow storms from late September until far into spring – which wiped out most of our mule deer herd, and of course, they also have to throw in the deep snow causing the floods of 2011-12.
Locally, all of us are not old enough to recall the record snowfall and flood of 1917, when the water of the Upper North Platte River covered some houses in Saratoga.
Other stories of bad winters abound in Wyoming’s newspapers. Here’s one from the Encampment Record of Jan. 25, 1917.
One of the worst storms of recent years has lately come and gone. On Friday night, snow began falling, and Saturday it was damp and heavy. The local forest department estimated snowfall to be 18 inches, and the lowest registered here was -22 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other places had more snow than here. Sunday was more agreeable than the day before, and Monday was the windiest one of the season. Much snow was hurriedly taken to the draws, etc.
On Monday after school, some of the children needed assistance to get home because of the wind.
The railroad was practically blocked by snow before the storm and now will have to haul out the snow in order to clear the track. The Union Pacific had difficulty in getting along, and is now running plows ahead of all trains, which are running five and six hours late.
Reports have said during our fair weather previous to the storm, there were high winds between Saratoga and Walcott.
A sled of the Richmond livery of Saratoga, with 12 passengers, left Saratoga at 10 a.m. on Saturday and reached Walcott at 11 a.m. Sunday. On Saturday night, the party discovered it was lost and camped for the night. No one was reported to have suffered with the cold.
Stagecoaches are now making trips between Saratoga and Walcott.
On Tuesday afternoon, Joe Rankin, the liveryman and Jim Dettinger took mail to Saratoga and returned Thursday.
Another article in the same newspaper reads:
Shortly after, pretty weather set in about the first of the year. One remarked winter had “broke.” For a while this seemed so, and Saturday it did “break” many storm records.
On March 22, 1917, The Saratoga Sun noted:
We are informed the weatherman optimistically predicts the biggest snowstorm and blizzard of the winter is due to land in these parts some time tomorrow, the 23rd.
By April 27, 1917, a hope of spring was reported in the Encampment Record with the headlines “Good Crops This Year” and “Plenty of Snow Assures Plenty of Water for Irrigation,” but, then, that’s for the next time.