Winter Wonderlands: Images of America’s Greatest Snowstorms

By Nicky M. | Arcadia Staff

As October fades into the rearview mirror, thousands across the country are gearing up for the first snow of the 2018 fall season. And for good reason, too: many American cities are no stranger to intense snowfall and winter storms. To celebrate this upcoming winter, we’ve put together some of our favorites from historic US snowstorms.

A buried train depot during the 1913 blizzard of Littleton, Colorado.In December of 1913, a blizzard in Littleton, Colorado buried this train depot in snow as deep as 36 – 48 inches. Trains were unable to pass for nearly two days.

Reprinted from Littleton by Mike Butler, courtesy of the Littleton Museum (pg. 106, Arcadia Publishing, 2015).

Children taking a sleigh ride during a snowstorm in Apex, North Carolina.Snow is a pretty big anomaly in the South. So when the snow started to fall in Apex, North Carolina, during the winter of 1960, these kids had as much fun as possible with their own sleigh ride.

Reprinted from Apex by Sherry Monahan, courtesy of Susan Mills (pg. 67, Arcadia Publishing, 2009).

Children with their parents during a historic California snowstorm.Even less common than snow in the South is snow in California. But in winter of 1949, Los Angeles saw exactly that. The storm of 1949 dumped up to a foot of snow in areas of the Los Angeles basin, and to this day there has not been a storm of such size since.

Reprinted from Garvanza by Charles J. Fisher and the Highland Park Heritage Trust, courtesy of the Virginia Neely collection (pg. 86, Arcadia Publishing, 2010).

Children nearly reach the electrical wires on a snow bank in Crested Butte, Colorado.During a storm in the 1950s, a snowstorm near Crested Butte, Colorado created snow banks as high as electrical wires. In this photo, two young children demonstrate how they can nearly reach the power lines.

Reprinted from Crested Butte by Duane Vandenbusche (pg. 52, Arcadia Publishing, 2011).

Buried streetcars during a 1916 Seattle blizzard.Seattle is no stranger to snow, but this storm from 1916 is now known as “The Big Snow.” A record 21-plus inches fell on the city, and buried the streetcars seen here.

Reprinted from Seattle by Mark Sundquist, courtesy of Kent Renshaw (pg. 95, Arcadia Publishing, 2010).

Lake effect snow covering an Ohio town during 1913.Great Lakes snow is known for being both monumental and heavy. And there’s no exception for that in Chardon, Ohio – this 1913 picture records a November storm that shut down the town and surrounding areas for a week.

Reprinted from Chardon and Chardon Township by Debbie Chuha, Bill Jackson, and Joan Windnagel for the Chardon Bicentennial Celebration Steering Committee, courtesy of the collection of Bill Jackson (pg. 108, Arcadia Publishing, 2011).

An army vehicle during the 1949 Wyoming blizzard.
The Blizzard of 1949 blanketed the state of Wyoming in snow. The storm stalled a majority of the state. In this picture, Fred Emerich gets a chance to ride in a U.S. Army weasel. Snow drifts can be seen reaching the second level of the Emerich household in the background.

Reprinted from The Wyoming Blizzard of 1949: Surviving the Storm by James Conway Fuller, courtesy of Senator Fred Emerich (pg. 148, The History Press, 2019).

An attendant waits to fix telegraph wires during an 1888 blizzard in Washington, D.C.
While D.C. might get its fair share of snow, some storms have done large amounts of damage: this image from an 1888 blizzard had such high winds that it destroyed the capital’s telegraph wires, suspending all communication into and out of the city.

Reprinted from The Knickerbocker Snowstorm by Kevin Ambrose, courtesy of the Library of Congress (pg. 80, Arcadia Publishing, 2013).

A woman skis through the streets during a 1978 blizzard in Boston.
Nasty Nor’easters are a mainstay of living in Boston, but the Blizzard of 1978 reached new heights. In this image from Harvard Square, a woman uses skis to move through the snow, which so heavy a driving ban was placed.

Reprinted from Greater Boston’s Blizzard of 1978 by Alan R. Earls, courtesy of Wayne Itano (pg. 31, Arcadia Publishing, 2008).

A young woman attempts to reach a highway sign during the Buffalo blizzard of 1977.
When the National Weather Service bases their lake effect snow office in your city, you know you get a lot of snow. But during the Blizzard of ’77, Buffalo, NY received more snow than they bargained for. With snow drifts up to 30 feet high, the city and surrounding areas were shut down for weeks. In this picture, a young woman climbs one of these snow banks, which nearly reaches a major street sign.

Reprinted from Buffalo Blizzard of 1977 by Timothy W. Kneeland, courtesy of BLBS (pg. 37, Arcadia Publishing, 2017).

A steam engine refuses to stop for a 1925 New York blizzard.
Elsewhere in New York, a 1925 blizzard was not enough to stop this 1120 Flyer, which continued down its tracks near Liverpool.

Reprinted from Disasters of Onondaga County by Neil K. MacMillan, courtesy of the Liverpool Public Library, from the Schuelke Collection (pg. 54, The History Press, 2017).

Another New York snowstorm blanketed Sidney, New York. Here, snow piles are pushed in an attempt to clear the sidewalk.
Another 1925 snowstorm blanketed Sidney, New York, in snow, with snowbanks here pushed to free up some of the sidewalk. This snowstorm was small in comparison to other blizzards the town has experienced.

Reprinted from Sidney by Erin Andrews and the Sidney Historical Association (pg. 125, Arcadia Publishing, 2010).

These brutal winter storms gave a new meaning to the term “winter wonderland” for many of these cities, and have gone down in the history books as the biggest storms in recent history. Only time will tell if a 2018 snowstorm is able to join their ranks!