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Big Snow - (1892-1893)



During the winter of 1892-3 Grays Harbor experienced its deepest snow. The Hoquiam River froze over; snow was four feet deep on the Humptulips Prairie and stayed on the ground six weeks. Farther north it reached a depth of six feet.

Anton Hansen was working in Goe. T Davis' Logging camp between Hoquiam and New London. So were Newt Brittain and Jack Ewall. The two latter came to Hoquiam to cash their checks. Wanted to get home by Christmas eve. That night it snowed a foot deep. They didn't get out of the snow until April. No Chinook wind, no rain. Loggers felled and bucked up in the snow.

Anton made himself some snow shoes of five foot cedar boards, and tied his feet onto them securely. He got, along fine for a while, then stubbed his toe and pitched headfirst into the snow. Unable to release his feet from the boards, he almost smothered before he could get himself out of it. After his accident he put straps on his snow shoes so he could get his feet out when he wanted to . Also, made himself a staff to guide with.

Charley Evans, a boy of sixteen, was carrying the mail from Hoquiam. He had a hard time getting up the river in the snow storm. Started out from New London on snow shoes. Made it to Hemlock Ridge, about five or six miles north of New London. By that time he was very tired and sick to his stomach. Sought shelter in Iverson's cabin. Along came Eric Scholtseh. He was a Norwegian and had brought his skis and staff with him to Washington. He took Charley behind him on the skis down the ridge to New London at about fifty miles an hour. Then he took the mail into Humptulips in a quick trip of two hours. (According to Anto Hansen.)

After the snow settled some of the Humptulips men made themselves snowshoes. They were of cedar, turned up at one end by steaming over a five gallon oil can. For straps, the used old shoetops. Then they went into the woods to lasso elk, which were unable to run in the deep snow. They captured two young ones and tied the cow-elk to a tree intending to get her the next day.

But, when they returned with some hay for her, they found she had broken her neck in a vain attempt to free herself. They felt really badly about it. Fred Williams kept the young elk in a wire enclosure for several years.

Meanwhile the school children were having difficulties. A neighbor of the Quinns made Rube and Roy snow shoes and they and Roy Sargent all used them to get to school. Bertha Sanders and Bon Newnham skimmed over two miles of deep snow. Bertha also recalls the sleighing parties. "A sleigh-load of young people would come to the top of the hill and holler, and we'd go out and join them", she explained.