Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

It’s December in Wyoming, so there is undoubtedly snow in the forecast. For some, flurries of white mean fun and games, while for others snow poses challenges, or is downright deadly. The American Heritage Center’s Digital Collections has more than three thousand images of snowy scenes. Let’s take a look at a selection over time.

A Laramie street after a blizzard in 1897. That’s a lot of snow to hand shovel!
Photo File: Wyoming – Laramie – Blizzard 1897, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

In the 1930s, Laramie’s Historic Ivinson Mansion housed a girls’ boarding school. Girls attended Laramie’s University High School for most of their classes, but had lessons at Ivinson in deportment, religion and physical education. The photo below shows the “Ivinson girls,” as they were known around town, in the midst of a snowball fight. Perhaps lobbing balls of snow at one another counted for P.E. credits? One wonders what the deportment instructor’s opinion on the matter might have been.

“Snow Day at Ivinson Hall,” 1938. Ivinson Hall was originally a mansion built for prominent Laramie resident Edward Ivinson in 1892. At the time of this photograph it was a boarding school for girls, which lasted until 1953. It is now home to the Laramie Plains Museum.
Box 35, Negative Number 30266D, Ludwig & Svenson Studio Photographs, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Heavy snowfall also brings with it the opportunity for building snowmen. The two children in the photo below are certainly smartly dressed for having built not one, not two, but three snow people.

Two children posing with their snowmen, 1935. The photo was taken by Vera Shultz.
Box 18, Lora Webb Nichols papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Snowfall for some regions of the state means the opportunity to ski – whether it be cross country or downhill. The photo below was taken on “Ruth Hanna Simms Ski Hill,” which is now part of Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole. Simms had donated money to build a ski jump on what had previously been known simply as “Town Hill.”

Three young men ready to hit the slopes in Jackson Hole, ca. 1932.
Box 82, S.N. Leek papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming. 

People on skis gliding across the snow are a common wintery sight in the mountains, but a house on skis gliding across the plains was a spectacle in 1925. A snowy day made this move possible and the team of horses pulling this house surely had their work cut out for them!

Team of horses pulling a house across a snowy landscape at Faerie Fait, 1925.
Box 20, Lora Webb Nichols papers, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Wyoming snowfall near Cody in 1942 was a new and sometimes difficult experience for the Japanese Americans interned during World War II at Heart Mountain Relocation Center. The majority of those held at Heart Mountain were from warmer areas of California and coastal Oregon and Washington. Many of them lacked sufficient warm clothing for the Wyoming winters. The War Relocation Authority issued clothing allowances for each family to help address the need for coats, hats and gloves, but there was a great deal of demand and a scarce supply. Internees who could afford it ordered clothing from the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Japanese American internee Arthur Ishigo with his dog and a young boy at Heart Mountain, circa 1942-1945.
Box 1, Estelle Ishigo Photographs, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

Just a few years after the Japanese Americans of Heart Mountain were learning to endure the snow and cold, a terrible blizzard struck Wyoming. It began on January 2, 1949, when subzero temperatures and high winds blew the rapidly accumulating snow, creating snow drifts as deep as ten feet. Hundreds of thousands of sheep and cattle froze to death in the snow. Some unfortunate motorists and homeowners had to dig out, probably by hand.

Yes, there is a house under all that snow. We wonder how these Rawlins residents managed to escape.
Photo File: Wyoming-Rawlins – Blizzard of 1949, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming.

With winter weather close at hand, enjoy the beauty of the snow, but don’t forget about its dangers. Stay warm and if the mood strikes you, you can scroll through more snowy scenes in the American Heritage Center’s online digital archive.

Post contributed by AHC Writer Kathryn Billington and AHC Archivist Leslie Waggener.


This entry was posted in Photographic collections, Uncategorized, Wyoming history and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply