Ever since New England was colonized in the early 17th century, dealing with the frigid conditions of winter has been a challenge. It was a startling change for settlers recently arrived from England to realize that their new home had more snow than they were used to but also much colder temperatures.
In February and March of 1717, “The Great Snow” covered southern New England in a series of four storms. It deposited nearly 4 feet on the ground and drifts were reported as high as 25 feet. Roads were impassable, communities were isolated and supplies did not move overland or along the coastal waterways. The only successful post runner from New York to Boston made the trip on snowshoes.
In November of 1798, the region was hit with “The Long Storm;” from Maryland to Maine nearly continuous snow fell between the 17th and 21st. Another notable storm in December of 1811, “The Cold Storm” of 1857 and the “Blizzard of ‘88” all made the record books.
Snow and how to handle it became a focus of communities large and small. In the rural towns, early snow removal depended on shoveling the white stuff out of the road. While it was not until the 1840s that the first patents were issued on snow plows, New Englanders came up with an earlier invention – the snow roller. It was a large wooden cylinder drawn by horses over roads to compact the surface and make the snow more or less uniform. It allowed sleds to proceed with fewer ruts and it was also safer for horses and riders.
But I’ll take the orange trucks any day!