January 12, 1886
The Great Snow Storm
In the Drifts
Casualties and Incidents

The snow, which rode here on the crest of the great cold wave last Friday morning and fell without intermission for fourteen hours, accompanied by a blinding gale which seemed to turn liquid to solids with its touch, has hardly a precedent in this climate. Several thermometers reported the temperature at 100 degrees below zero Saturday morning, 100 degrees Sunday morning and 12 degrees Monday morning. Ice was formed on the ponds six and seven inches thick. Mr. Kirtly Twyman says that during a residence of fifty-eight years in Hopkinsville he has never witnessed such deep and extensive snow drifts and only one snow fall of equal depth on a level. The snow was dry and the wild winds whirled it about and heaped it in the drifts on all sides. It averages ten inches on a level. All travel by wagons or vehicles of any kind on the roads leading into town is cut off, with a few inconsiderable exceptions. For the past four days the fields of snow which spread over the highways for miles out are marked only by a narrow, straggling path, broken by a few footmen or riders. A cold, bleak blockade has locked up the country highways. The strongest teams are unable to pull empty wagons through the huge drifts which at many points have plied their icy barricades across the way. The older citizen has never witnessed anything like it in this locality. A few incidents will give a better idea of the depth of the snow drifts than any description.

Mr. Jack Lander started with a load of coal through the lane east of the City Cemetery, became entangled in a drift and was compelled to leave his wagon, after getting out his mules with difficulty.

Thomas Torian, a livery stable keeper of Cadiz, started a drummer to Hopkinsville Saturday morning with a driver in a light buggy and pair of heavy horses, by way of Wallonia. Near Cerulean Springs they were forced by the drift to abandon the buggy and ride the rest of the way on horseback. The same day a pair of horses belonging to Mr. Polk Cansler left Cadiz for this place. The driver, after a heroic and persistent effort to reach his destination, finally had to leave his buggy in Summer's lane, five miles from the city, and ride home.

Mr. Robert Burnett, Jr. left Cadiz Saturday morning for Hopkinsville with a horse and buggy. On Sunday about dark he determined to leave his team at the residence of Mr. C.F. Jarrett, a few miles south of the city and walk the rest of the way. He reached here that night nearly frozen and exhausted.

Mr. Murphy, a telegraph attaché, rode out Sunday morning on the Clarksville pike to repair the wires, and found a pair of large mules hitched to an empty wagon foundered in a deep snow drift five miles out, and unable to move either way. He left without hearing their fate. At another point he found a deserted buggy which told its significant story of a fruitless effort to fight the Arctic cyclone.

On the Madisonville pike a short distance beyond the city limits, is a drift of remarkable length and beauty extending along the road several hundred yards. On Saturday it had an average depth of four feet, increasing at several points to six feet and completely covering several panels of plank fence with its fleecy fields. The great drift here resembled a huge quarry of the whitest marble on whose blocks skillful, sculptors had carved ingenious devices with ready chisels. The spirits of the storm were the sculptors and the sharp winds were their chisels. At every fence post the snow was sheltered and undisturbed while between the drift was hollowed out with wonderful regularity, so that it resembled a long succession of smoothly rolling waves, whose snowy undulations had been frozen in a moment into the move graceful curves. The riotous winds had tossed and whittled the Southern face of the drift into countless fantastic forms crescents, pyramids, angles, curves, shelving rocks, precipitous caverns, carved buttresses embossed with roses and lilies of snow, and monumental drapery. It was an alpine glazier, in its wild and strange variety; a miniature Pompeii, not scorched and buried with volcanic flames and lava, but chilled by the north wind, and sepulchered in snow. It stretches from an adjoining field on the west, across the pike and challenges the stoutest team in the State to pull through it, until it chooses to relax its hold.

Mr. Roy Cayce, living five miles from the city on the Palmyra road, started for the city Saturday morning with a two horse empty wagon. About two miles from home he encountered a snow drift six feet deep extending half a mile along the lane, from Mr. Tribble's farm to the Forbe's place, and was forced to return, leaving his wagon.

Mr. Marcellus Garrett, living on the Clarksville road, reports that in many places the drift is above the fence tops, making it all but impossible to travel on horseback.

Mr John Evans, on the Palmyra road, has lost a large number of fowls and several hogs by the intense cold. Mr Charles Dade, living on the Canton road, describes the ride to town as swimming through snow.

Mr W.H. McRea, of Pembroke, says the roads in the vicinity are so deeply buried under the snow that people cannot travel at all.

Snow Bound

Last Friday at 6 p.m. the train left Elkton for Guthrie. The snow had been drifting all day and towards night the wind was blowing fully 25 miles an hour and the thermometer traveling below zero at about the same rate. The engine was pulling two box cars, one passenger coach with six passengers, and one express car. About three miles from Elkton, we struck a five feet cut nearly level full of snow. The engine begun to move slower and slower and when about half way through the cut, stopped entirely. All the train hands came through towards the engine, the conductor remarking to the passengers that "we're in a drift." We laughed and joked over the matter not thinking that we were stuck there for the night. With all the firing up and putting on steam, the engine could not move forward an inch. The conductor called for the coal shovel from the tender, and commenced to shovel snow from in front of the engine manfully, but he could not stand it long and broke for the fire. The snow blowing against your face, felt like so many hot needles piercing the skin. There was only one shovel on the train, and the train men took turn about shoveling snow for about two hours and did not move the train over three feet. The engineer thought if they would uncouple the two front cars, which was in front of the coach, and pull them up to a switch a short distance and leave them, he could pull the passengers to Guthrie. It takes about an hour and a half to do that. By that time the snow had drifted all up and around us and after a few ineffectual trials to go forward it was decided to push back to Elkton, but we were now so snow bound the engine could not move us either way. After shoveling snow until 12 o'clock the men came in, and we saw without asking our fate unless we had help from Guthrie. So we began to make ourselves as comfortable as possible. There was one woman aboard, a colored school teacher on her way to Clarksville. A drummer by the name of Dodd was very attentive to her, in fact, he was her fireman all night. Next morning about daybreak the conductor and Bill the porter started for Elkton. Billie got cold and stopped at the first house, but the conductor faced the elements and kept on and arrived in Elkton for breakfast. the news soon spread over town and when the conductor started with the shovel brigade, several of the citizens came along, arriving in sight just as we were moving out of the drift, for we got tired of waiting and commenced to shovel snow again and in 3 hours was out of the drift and down to the tank. The engineer said he just had enough water to get "that." The tank was a kind of a station, there being a grocery, where we got some cheese, oysters and sardines, good things for an empty stomach. While there a good farmer took pity on us and brought us some warm coffee and a basket full of provisions and we ate. Sunday the train made the trip to Guthrie.

Public Schools

The junior pupils of the Public Schools have yielded gracefully to the stress of the weather and snow drifts since the blizzard, and their attendance has been lessened nearly one half. The rooms are all warmed by Grossius heaters and have been comfortable. The trouble in many quarters was in encountering the snow drifts. Yesterday the attendance was largely increased and in a day or two it will probably be back to the old figures. In a season of such remarkable severity very small children are safer at home, reading of Grimm's or Anderson's stories, before a glowing grate.

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