Snow Ride 1916

May / Sloan Family Snow Ride

Photo of May/Sloan family on a “snow-ride” with straw on the wagon. The wagon wheels have been replaced by sleds.

These replaceable wheels/sleds were quite remarkable. Very ingenious solution.  Our buggy had them. However I don’t remember ever using them on a buggy or wagon after 1940.  Just kept them as reserve–just in case.

We used them later on as individual sleds to drag behind a car or tractor in 1948-49 winter when we had around 16″ of snow on the road.

We used a 40′ lariat — hooked one end on sled and then thru the car bumper and held the other loose end in our hands. As we would move that hand around it would steer the sled which ever way we wanted. We drove all over the area picking up kids, stopping here or there to get warmed up and have hot chocolate.

They had to close the schools for several days when the wind drifted the snow into 3-4′ drifts.

Sleigh photo of the May twins.  This was in teens (1910-1920) between New Plymouth and Fruitland.  Note the level of snow.  Everyone had sleighs. NP even had sleighs that replaced tires on trailers making them snow-capable.

May Twins Sledding between New Plymouth and Fruitland

May Twins Sledding between New Plymouth and Fruitland

Folks today simply do not understand how much climate fluctuates naturally.  We had much more snow in first 30 years of 1900s.  We had 14-16″ on the level in January 1949 in New Plymouth. The temp that Dec/January went down to minus 25 — usually our winter lows would be about +17 and not long enough to freeze the ground. However, since my dad earned his living by plowing in the winter months we were highly attuned to frozen ground when we could not plow. These years were about one in five from 1938 to 1948.  Farmers almanac and pioneering family stories indicate the wide natural fluctuation in weather patters.  20-30 year trends are only trends — not cataclysmic global anything.  Bird species are well tuned to these normal trends as their very survival are at stake.  Quail species explode in certain weather conditions, but equally go very quiet in others.  In hard winter of 1948-49 water fowl got caught when early storms came and snow stayed covering the normal feeding areas.  Some duck actually got stuck when ponds froze around their legs.  That winter thousands and perhaps millions starved in the Snake river flyway because snow covered all the food, preventing them from continuing south.  Our fields were covered with them trying to scratch up anything.

In the 30s, I remember my sister and I getting hay down from our big 40-60 ton stacks.  They were covered every winter with about a foot of snow and ice that lasted the winter. The underlying hay acted as an insulation, and the snow also acted to insulate — so even if snow were evaporated or melted on the ground, it seemed to stay on the stacks.  The stack would be rounded/sloped in order to shed rain — this slope effectively gave a glancing effect on sunlight so it did not melt the snow.  And the sun was low enough on horizon to not hit the snow hard enough.

In the 40s during WWII, we learned a lot when dams were proposed all over the sierras to impound water for hydroelectricity — needed desperately for aluminum production for aircraft (and secondarily for farming).  To do the research they sent researchers up onto the glaciers (there were many in Sierras then).  By boring the glaciers and studying the many layers — over hundreds of years represented, they discovered the sun spot cycle averaging 11 years.  Droughts to floods cycle was eleven years long.  Knowing that, they could produce models in order to understand how much water to release for hydro/irrigation, and how much to store.  Cal Edison now owns these dams and reservoirs — and they all have public use parks/recreation around them.

Payette, February 4, 1916 42" of Snow On The Level

Payette, February 4, 1916
42″ of Snow On The Level


This photo was in Payette Paper — Feb 1916 showing main street. 42″ on the level.

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