Record snows buried Glenwood in 1916, wildlife fed to stop starvation |

Record snows buried Glenwood in 1916, wildlife fed to stop starvation

Willa Soncarty
Registrar, Frontier Historical Society and Museum

“Groundhog Day, an eclipse of the sun and a foot of snow!” cried the Avalanche Echo newspaper in February 1916. For a month, Glenwood Springs was blanketed by a seemingly non-stop supply of winter white. Challenges loomed ahead.

The more than 40 inches of snow deposited in Glenwood Springs by late January 1916 only grew larger on Jan. 28, when a violent wind storm blew through the valley. The 50 mph winds brought another three inches of snow to town.

Railroad service was delayed as men cleared the tracks of avalanches in Glenwood Canyon.

The snow continued to fall.

By Feb. 3, newspaper editor Holmes, weary of winter’s antics, reported that the previous day’s quickly falling snow would have “hermetically sealed” the groundhog’s den, should the fellow have ventured out to see his shadow.

The morning’s rare solar eclipse “didn’t cut much ice in this section” because people were naturally shoveling snow by lantern light. And the foot of snow added to the 48 inches “lying on the level” was totally uncalled for.

And then the buildings began to creak.

The city’s fire house at 915 Grand Ave. collapsed under the weight of the snow, damaging the hook and ladder truck.

The Hotel Colorado’s kitchen roof also collapsed, crushing a great deal of equipment, including a new dishwashing machine and copper cookware.

Hunger brought deer and other animals into town. The Fish and Game Department fed deer, elk and mountain sheep in the effort to ward off starvation.

As February waned, spring’s warming sun chased the snow into memory. It had indeed been a challenging winter.

“Frontier Diary” is provided to the Glenwood Springs Post Independent by the Frontier Historical Society and Museum, 1001 Colorado Ave., Glenwood Springs. Winter hours are 1-4 p.m. Monday and Thursday through Saturday.

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