SNOW DAY! Are there any sweeter words to be heard when one is of school age? I confess that, even as a school teacher, there were days in which I welcomed that phone call. Today’s Riverton students no longer wait praying by the radio hoping to hear the name “Riverton Public School,” or even the school closing number. Instead, they receive an automated phone message triggered by the principal to tell of the glorious news directly to their home phone. But, imagine having four snow days in a row. It happened in Riverton in 1889.
The recent 14-15 inch snowfall may indeed give some of us symptoms of “snow fatigue,” but it was a minor nuisance compared to snowstorms with which Riverton had to bear during the years 1888 and 1889. In her “Yesterday” column in the February 1979 Gaslight News, Town Historian Mrs. Betty B. Hahle cited an 1888 Receipt Book of William F. Morgan in which it was noted that…”The Great Blizzard occurred March 12th 1888.” … “The second occurred Feb. 12 and 13th 1899. It snowed for 52 hours.”
Mr. Gerald Weaber reported in his November 2009 GN article, “The Fascinating Fitler Family” that during the March 1888 storm, drifts reached fifteen to thirty feet high along the riverbank. One subject of Mr. Weaber’s article, Dale Baker Fitler, was born in Riverton exactly nine months after the March 1888 blizzard.
Finally, this newspaper scan from The New Era newspaper reports that sleighs of all types made an appearance on Main Street on Friday, February 10, 1889 as the result of a severe snowstorm which cause a temporary food scarcity and closed school from Monday through Thursday.
From the newspaper account describing the town finding fun on Main Street after emerging from four days of being snowbound and the looks of joy on these skaters’ faces, I don’t think that these citizens of old Riverton suffered from snow fatigue.
I invite you to tell how you spent your Riverton “snow days,” whenever they may have been. – John McCormick, Gaslight News Editor