Remembering the Blizzard of 1888

January 12, 2022
Remembering the Blizzard of 1888
Remembering the Blizzard of 1888
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 7:06 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 11:00 PM CST
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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - It was an unusually warm morning 134 years ago this day. The cattle were grazing in the fields. Children were without a care on the playground enjoying their noon time recess. It was also said that wen could be seen working outside in their short-sleeve shirts. Everyone was oblivious to what would unfold that January afternoon. And what would take place was unthinkable, something out of a science fiction movie such as the 2004 thriller The Day After Tomorrow starring Dennis Quaid, which of course was produced well over a century after this event.

It happened so fast, everyone was caught off guard. The wind suddenly shifted from the south to out of the north that afternoon. And with it came a wall of thick, blinding snow plowing across the plains. The temperature plummeted to a frigid -34 degrees in a matter of hours. People and livestock became trapped in the freezing white landscape. Around 100 people lost their lives in Nebraska alone from the storm which lasted from 12 to 18 hours. It would become the storm that surpassed all storms of years past. After the snow stopped falling, it took two weeks to dig out from the deluge of white powder.

From the depths of the white wasteland came stories of heroism. One story in particular stands out from the rest. It is a story about a school teacher by the name of Minnie Freeman. When supplies and wood ran out, she tied them together in a single file line and courageously led them through the storm from the single room school house to a nearby farmhouse. There was a song written to commemorate her heroics... Thirteen Were Saved, Or Nebraska’s Fearless Maid. A few books were written about that horrific day as well, One such book written from first hand accounts of the the storm is In All Its Fury by William O’Gara. A historical marker located at Rural Nebraska 70 in Ord, Nebraska has a plaque that tells of the tragic turn of events that happened that dreadful January day.

For more on the Blizzard of 1888 click on these links from the History Nebraska website:

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