Re: Off Topic: Blizzard Posts
>Several of you have wanted to know about the blizzard
posts. Here is the story.
I realize from traveling this country in the winter that
states have horrible winters, as bad as the west. So please don't take
offence. I am not trying to tell you how much worse things are in Wyoming,
Idaho and Montana. I'm just trying to share a bit of Western lore with you.
I hope you enjoy it.
The difference between Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana as well as some
other western states is the vast distances between towns. When you leave
the city limits you can be more or less isolated for hours except for
passing cars and often traffic is sparse. In the winter traffic can come to
almost a total stop, and sometimes roads are closed by the highway patrol
until passable. There have been many times motorests were unable to
continue on the highway and had to pull over until the blizzard conditions
lessened. Sometimes they are unable to continue on because of snow buildup
or lack of traction. Other times cars slide off the highway and becomes
Often the driver is not able to see the blizzard posts, because there is a
of perhaps six or seven feet,between the posts.
Under these conditions whole families have waited days in their cars
for help to come. In some cases it was too late or the people had severe
frost bite or were weak from lack of food or water. One dare not leave the
car even to void for fear of being seperated from the car and lost. The
motor cannot be turned on for heat because the tailpipe may be stopped up
with snow and the people have died of carbon dioxide poisoning.
I haven't lived in Wyoming or a hard winter state since 1961 when
I moved to Vegas. My father passed away in December 1989 and I was forced
to drive home. There were new divided three or four lane highways, more
traffic; but the same ice, snow, cold and blizzard posts.
The blizzard posts are slender posts with a reflective yellow glass
at the top. They are in my estimation apx. forty four inches high and the
glass is about a three and one half inch diamiter If you don't know what
they are and it is nice weather you wonder, " What's with these funny sticks
beside the road? Another waste of taxpayers money!" Many people owe their
lives to the blizzard posts. Often they are the only thing you can see to
help you stay on the highways of Wyoming.
In the winter of 1949 the snow was so deep and the blizzards so long
that hundreds of cattle froze in the field from hunger and lack of shelter.
They could not see or move because of the snow. Ranches were isolated, some
without heat and little food. Cities were cut off from the rest of the
country. People ran off the road and were stuck for days, many of them died
in their cars. Every little whistle stop was full of travelers waiting for
the snow to stop. HIghways closed down until the wind and snow slowed and
they could be cleared.
One highway had stayed open. That was the 200 miles between Casper
and Cheyenne. Early in January my husband and I accompanied four friends to
Cheyenne for thier weddings. Kids and innocents that we were, all six
piled into the car and off we went. About 50 miles out of Cheyenne we ran
into a blizzard. All that our driver could see was the lights on the
blizzard posts. We drove about 23 miles that way, then came to a gas station
with many cars parked in the snow around it. We parked bumper to bumper
with a car that was parked the same way with the cars in front of him. With
our hands in contact with the cars made our way inside. It was wall to wall
people. No place to sit,
little room to stand and no facilities for feeding or caring for people
spent three days in that station before the snow plow came through.
I owe not only my life but the life of my small daughter to the
blizzard posts. It was Feb. I had been teaching in Idaho and I had to get
home. I was reassured because My husband and my other two children were in
a car ahead of us. We soon became seperated, and unbeknownst to me we were
now ahead of my family. We had to drive across the continental divide
between Evenston Wyo. and Rock Springs. Suffice it to say; Never, Never,
Never drive that stretch of road in the winter. If for some reason you have
to; remember that your life is in your hands and slow down and pray lots.
We came into Rawlins about 9 p.m. It is 135 miles from Casper. It
was cold and spitting snow, nothing to worry about- I knew that road and I
WAS worried.We stopped at a station to get gas and ask about conditions.
Some people that had just came from Casper said the roads were clear and
there was no snow on the way. Great!
` We got to the city limits of Rawlins. Rawlins was a small town and
that took maybe 5-10 mins. In that time the spitting snow turned to a
raging blizzard. I couldn't see the road, the sides of the road or traffic
in front, beside or back of me. There was no way to turn around so we went
on. I drove for what seemed hours with only the blizzard lights to keep me
on the road. At times I lost site of them and expected to run off the road.
Cuddled close beside me was my small frightened four year old daughter. We
had very little food and no water with us. I wondered what would happen to
her if we were stuck out here for days, as I knew we could be. The snow was
growing deeper and the tires were having touble getting traction. I knew we
could not go much farther. There was no traffic. We seemed to be the only
humans in all this vast land. Hope was dim and my prayers fervent.
Dimly a small opening in the snow. It looked almost like the sun
shining through. Then I saw a yellow light coming toward us.A highway
patrolman pulled up beside me. "There's a snowplow ahead of you. I'll
follow you." He said. We soon
met the snowplow and with it in front, me in the middle, and the patrolman
gear went on about 12 miles to where we came out of the blizzard even more
quickly than we had gone into it. It was the wierdiest thing I have ever
seen. The roads were clear, the moon and stars shining and absolutly no
snow on the shoulders and very little on the plains. We drove the rest of
the way in complete safety and without any other traffic either way. It
took us from 9:30 p.m. until 5a.m. to drive 135 miles.
We had been the last car to go through before the road was blocked, out of
Rawlins and out of Casper. The rest of my family spent a safe and warm night
in a motel in Rawlins.
Two years later I moved to Las Vegas and believe me I love the heat.
They ski on Mt Charlston which is 35 miles out of town. That snow is close
enough for me.