On this day in 1888, a freak blizzard hit the Northwest Plains, U.S. and killed 235 people, many were children coming home from school and others were farmers working the fields. The temperature is said to have fallen 100 degrees in just 24 hours.
The temperatures had been unseasonably warm the day before in Montana and Texas. In North Dakota, the temperatures went to 40 degrees below zero.
Schoolteacher Seymour Dopp in Pawnee City, Nebraska, kept his 17 students at school when the storm began at 2 p.m. They stayed overnight, burning stockpiled wood to keep warm. The next day, parents made their way over five-foot snow drifts to rescue their children. In Great Plains,South Dakota, two men rescued the children in a schoolhouse by tying a rope from the school to the nearest shelter to lead them to safety. Minnie Freeman, a teacher in Nebraska, successfully led her children to shelter after the storm tore the roof off of her one-room schoolhouse. In other cases, though, people were less lucky. Teacher Loie Royce tried to lead three children to the safety of her home, less than 90 yards from their school in Plainfield, Nebraska. They became lost, and the children died of hypothermia. Royce lost her feet to frostbite. History.com
The Schoolchildren’s Blizzard
Marty Rhodes Figley
Illustrations by Shelly O. Haas
Ages 5 to 7
First Avenue Editions, 2004, 1-57505-619-4