The big snow of 1911

Amedee, January, 1911. The "x" indicates the town's old dance hall. Courtesy of Madelyn Mapes Dahlstrom
Amedee, January, 1911. The “x” indicates the town’s old dance hall. Courtesy of Madelyn Mapes Dahlstrom

While a few days ago we examined the winter of 1861-62, there are winters where one storm defines it. These are usually record breaking snowfalls, which nearly all the winter season’s precipitation is received.

The big snow of January 1911 was one of these. The majority of the record breaking snowstorms occur in January. The snowstorms of January 1911 were memorable. The fall and early winter were relatively mild. On Friday, January 13, there were three feet of snow in Susanville. Then it really began to snow. Six days later, when the storm finally ceased, five feet of snow had fallen in Susanville, and the depth on the ground had reached eight feet! People hurried to shovel roofs, for it was a heavy, wet snow. Snow shovelers were in demand, and commanded a price of $1.50 per hour. Then the rains came. It rained for 36 hours in Susanville. This was followed by a cold snap and the settled snow was frozen solid. In January 116 inches of snow fell in Susanville, with a total precipitation of 11.59 inches.

With all that snow on the ground, it was not easy to navigate. Zella Arnold recalled how her husband, Med, shoveled numerous one-foot wide paths throughout the town so he could make milk deliveries. Snow conditions varied throughout the Honey Lake Valley. Lyle Wemple recalled that Milford had six feet of snow, followed by rain for 24 hours, and then it froze. People did not get mail for about fifteen days. Robert Trussell recalled, “We had five feet of snow at Johnstonville, you could not see a fence post in the valley.” Ed Bass said the conditions at Standish were similar to those at Johnstonville.* At Amedee the storm proved to be as dramatic as it was in Susanville. At Amedee they too experienced nearly eight feet of snow. As Marie Herring Gould recalled the N-C-O railroad depot was completely covered by snow, and took on the appearance of, “a giant white mound” on the landscape.

*Ed Bass had a great photograph of the flooding near Standish after the snow melted. Unfortunately, at that time I was not able to have it copied. If anyone knows who might possess it, let me know.

**More photos to follow, stay tuned.

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2 thoughts on “The big snow of 1911”

  1. I love your posts. Thank you for bringing Lassen County alive for years gone by. This particular photo was 6 years before my mom was born. She was Ada Wright Atterberry. She loved keeping up with the history of Lassen County.

  2. Tim,
    Thank you so much. I always appreciate you sharing the history of Susanvile. I have heard about all my life about Med Arnold.

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