The Long Hard Winter 1920

One of the longest winters ever experienced in our area was the winter of 1919-1920. The summer and fall leading up to this winter was extremely dry and the farm feed situation was anything but good. Prior to this the lending banks throughout the surrounding districts loaned many farmers and ranchers additional money so they could buy more cattle and horses. This move eventually turned out to be a very disastrous move.

On October 8, 1919 it was a typi­cal fall day, hot and dry, however the next day it was a different story. A severe snow storm touched off one of the longest and coldest winters on record, one that lasted from October 9, 1919 to late in May 1920. With additional cattle and horses to feed and a scarcity of feed to start with the farmers and ran­chers soon found themselves in a very desperate position. Many hun­dreds of cattle and horses died that winter because of food-shortages. The farmers and ranches were una­ble to pay back their loans and many were forced off their land with nothing to show for their many years of hard work. The cattle that did survive that winter were weakened to such an extent that it was difficult to ready them for the following winter. During this se­vere long winter some people hauled slough hay from as far away as the Frog Lake area. It was poor quality hay but better than no hay at all. The feed situation was so bad that winter the cattle and horses chewed the bark off willows and trees just so they could stay alive.

It was also a devastating winter for wild life. Hundreds of deer, moose and Elk starved to death when they were unable to find suffi­cient feed under the deep snow.

Normally our snow melts about the middle of April however in the spring of 1920 it was still visible in some areas as late as the end of May.

The residents of our hamlet as well as the settlers in our commun­ity found the winter a very depress­ing one. The winter lasted so long that many people thought it would never end. The homes were all heated with wood and coal in the early years and it was almost a full time job supplying fuel for their stoves so they could keep warm.

Roads weren't kept open during the winter in those days and many rural residents had to travel a long ways in sleighs or horse drawn cut­ters so they could obtain their much needed supplies. Many hardships were known by many people that winter.

The schools that did stay open in our surrounding areas found their attendance a way down - No parents wanted to send their children to school under such existing condi­tions and you well couldn't blame them.

People talked about the winter of 1919-1920 for a good many years and no doubt they had a good reason to.