The Blizzard of 1909

On the Porch

The Blizzard of 1909

By Jennifer Andries

110 years ago, a major snowstorm enveloped the region with blizzard conditions.  Several photographs, many of which were printed on postcards, were taken in the region to document the large amount of snow.  The museum has several postcards in its collection from the blizzard storm of 1909. 

Two snowstorms struck the region within a couple of weeks at the end of January and the beginning of February 1909. 

Marshall News Messenger, February 5, 1909

The Blizzard Storm.  One Exception, Worst in 28 Years.  All Train Service Blocked, Telephone and Telegraph Wires Down, Train Stormbound at Granite Two Days.

Great snow storms and blizzards were a fixed habit in the winter of 1880-81, Marshall was without train service for three straight months, and there was great loss of life and great hardship.  Since that time Nature has been more reasonable, and the next big blizzard storm was in 1888.  And last week appeared its next best counterpart, a genuine blizzard, which fortunately lasted but twenty-four hours, with another day of excessive cold and wind.

The storm came from the southwest, and the territory covered the country from the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic, and from the gulf states to the northern boundary.  It was more severe in the southern and eastern states, where there was much loss of life and great suffering.  Hereabouts we learn of but two severe casualties to humanity, a man named Patyn, from Grandview, who with his employer’s team were lost, and finding the buildings on the old Van Hee farm, fastened the team and crawled inside for shelter.  He was so badly frozen that he died.  The team remained hitched for nearly twenty-three hours, unblanketed, but were in no way injured. 

Over at Tyler, a man was badly frozen close to his own home, an account of which appears elsewhere.  The principal damage in this state was to train service and telephone and telegraph service.  Wires were down in all directions, and the service is still crippled.  In this vicinity train service was suspended on the Northwestern from Thursday till Monday, and on the Great Northern from Thursday at midnight till Saturday evening.                                                                                                                                                

Marshall News-Messenger, February 12, 1909:

Big Storm Number Two. A Three Days Blockade of Great Northern and Four Days on the Northwestern, Heavy Fall of Snow and High Winds.

The second big storm of snow and wind began Monday evening at about seven o’clock, and the snow fell with constantly increasing quantity and with the wind rising to the dignity of a  genuine blizzard until at midnight, when the storm gradually ceased.  The severity of the storm so closely following that of but two weeks previous, caused even the old settlers to sit up and become reminiscent, wondering if winter was getting ready to crawl into the lap of spring, as in days of yore.  Probably about fifteen inches of snow fell, but there were drifts from three to ten feet high.

The most serious damage was in the abandonment of all train service on the railroads leading out of Marshall.  After Monday’s day trains there was none till Thursday morning, when the plow and train came through from the south on the Great Northern, and late in the  afternoon trains went through in both directions.  On the Northwestern there were no trains from Monday afternoon till Thursday evening, and as we go to press the line is not open from the east.  Wednesday afternoon a plow came up from Tracy, and this side of Minneota went to pieces in a drift, the engine returning to Tracy. 

Thursday morning another plow came up from Tracy and went west, while another plow from Tracy came to Marshall and went out on the line to Evan.  A big gang of men with a rotary plow were working Thursday between Lamberton, bucking and shoveling snow.  A train pulled out from Tracy for Huron on Wednesday, was stuck in the snow at Burchard, and the  rotary plow was sent to its relief.  On the Great Northern the Monday night train from the cities was held up at Granite Falls till Tuesday morning, when it came south and got as far as Russell, where it was stalled at the station till Thursday morning.  The first train from the cities arrived in Marshall at 5’clock Thursday afternoon.