Added to this site around 2001.

The Great Blizzard Of 1957

I know that there are many stories and pictures of this blizzard.  If you would like them included please contact me. 
The following are from some of the reports in the late March and the early April Jacksonian.   I have used the exact wording as best I could.  I have also made the Jacksonian's report in Blue and my comments in Purple.
THE STORY STARTS HERE.  I recall going to this program, I was nine, about to turn 10 in April.  I had always remembered it as being a Junior play however, and on a Thursday night instead of a Friday.  When we came out of the Auditorium, the snow had just started falling with the biggest flakes I had ever seen before or since.
March 20th, Jacksonian  
King and Queen Of Music To Reign Over Panorama
Of Music Friday Evening  
The "Panorama of Music" will be presented Friday Evening, March 22 at the Cimarron High School Auditorium.
April 4th, Jacksonian  
Panorama of Music, Large Crowd Attends
The Panorama of music under the able direction of Loetta Legg and sponsored by the Cimarron B. P. W. Club was successfully presented to a large crowd at the Cimarron school auditorium last Friday evening March 22nd, just before the beginning of the big snow storm.    
March 27th, Jacksonian  
This Vicinity was hit by a blizzard last Saturday night of the longest duration of any ever remembered here.  The temperature however did not drop below around 30 degrees, which was very fortunate, because hundreds of motorists were stranded on the highways and had the temperature dropped to zero or below, many would probably have frozen. 
The storm which started Saturday afternoon (It actually started just as the Panorama of Music program was ending, Friday night.) lasted until around midnight Sunday night, with heavy snow and a strong north wind.  Previous to the blizzard around an inch of rain had fallen, and all Saturday morning a wet snow fell, bringing another nice lot of moisture.
Old timers here in Cimarron say the drifts are the biggest they have ever seen here, many estimated as high as fifteen feet.   Many automobiles were completely covered, with not even the top showing. 
Below I have a picture that I took of a car one block from my house after the owner and some of the guys had dug down to it.  This car was between drifts and I would guess the drifts on each side were another four foot or more above this level. 
digging down to car.jpg (39644 bytes)

This car was stuck and buried five blocks west of main street, one block west of our home.  
This is Carol Rohrbaugh, Judy Rohrbaugh and Judy Hunt in a drift on east side of Cimarron during the Blizzard.  Picture taken by Mabel Shepherd.
Highway 50 through Cimarron was blocked both east and west of town late Saturday afternoon, with hundreds of motorists stalled on the highways.
A report from Wiley Parker, who keeps the official govern-rain gauge here in Cimarron gives the following:
March 20,----- 0.35 inch of rain
March 21,----- 0.51 inches of rain
March 22,------ 0.10 inches rain
March 23,-----1.10 inches of moisture; 11 inches of snow
March 24,-----1.10 inches moisture; 11 inches of snow
March25,----- 3 inches of snow.
This makes a total of 3.16 inches of moisture and 25 inches of snow, since last Wednesday.  
My Dad, Charley Thomas, was the Gray County Sheriff when the blizzard hit.  I remember not seeing him much during the first few days of the blizzard.  I also remember when he did come home that he and mom went to town and got groceries.  I remember them pulling them home on a new sled, our first that I ever remember having. 
From noon Saturday until around 5:00 p.m.  Sheriff Charley Thomas, using his pickup picked up all of the stalled motorists west of town to 1 mile west of Ingalls, and several east of town, and finally stalled his pick-up in a snow drift and had to walk back to Cimarron.  Approximately 50 people were brought into Cimarron.  
Sheriff Thomas then boarded an east bound train and picked up everyone on highway 50 between Cimarron and Dodge City, except those whose cars were stalled a mile and a half east of town.  These folks were too far from the railroad track, and the storm was too bad for them to reach the train.  About 30 men, women and children were picked up, besides two State highway employees:  two highway patrolmen, Cecil Johnson and Ernest Magby, and all of the National Guard Unit that had been dispatched from Dodge City with the highway troopers.
Sheriff Thomas then caught a west bound train back to Cimarron.  About 35 people who had been picked up earlier in the day boarded this train and went to Garden City.
Shortly before noon Sunday, Sheriff Charley Thomas, Jack Newsom, Don Phelps, Si Davis, Jr. and Clehbert Flowers, with blankets and food started east on highway 50, in an effort to reach the motorists stalled 1 1/2 miles east of town.  They got as far as the Ernest Winkleman place just east of the city limits, and were so exhausted that they turned back, knowing they could never reach the cars.
About 2:00 o'clock Sheriff Thomas decided to try again, this time he took only three younger men with him.  Junior Eskam, Glen Hagen, and Jack Newsom.  Richard Eskam took them to the railroad tracks, two blocks east of the depot in the power wagon, and the four men followed the railroad track east to the Ross Miller crossing, then followed the telephone line north to 50 highway and on east on the highway to the stalled cars. 
Sheriff Thomas said, "these boys had 'plenty of guts', not one of them mentioned turning back, and the going was plenty rough, and we were never able to see over 20 feet ahead."
They left blankets, food and cigarettes to the folks in the stalled cars.  Five of the men returned with the rescuers.  They came back to town on the highway.  Three of the men stopped at Homer Lee's and the other two at Paul Eichmans.     
   in front of house.jpg (41634 bytes)    man in road.jpg (40641 bytes)   mom kids neighbors.jpg (46429 bytes)   mom kids and neighbors2.jpg (49192 bytes)
These are pictures of my family and neighbors on a drift that would have been just west of where Vivian's restaurant is now.
Monday morning Richard Eskam and several others scouted around and decided they could get the power wagon in behind the Babe Lee place along the railroad tracks.  They brought 16 persons who had been stalled in their cars nearly 40 hours back to Cimarron.  They were taken to the Veterans Memorial building, where George Akin and Galen Truax had a hot breakfast waiting for them.  Dr. Jackman was on hand to administer first aid to those who needed attention.
After getting the folks back safely Sheriff Thomas got L. R. Byler's Power Wagon, put chains on all four wheels, and Marvin Tull, foreman of the Road Construction Co. here working on the bridge, and several of his employees, and their D-4 Cat, with a dozer in the front and the following Cimarron Men:  Richard Scott, Jim Allen, Chet Cossman, Stewart, McShively, Davis, (may have been Si Davis Jr.), Downtain, (I believe this to be Lawrence Downtain) Herb Settles, Clehbert Flowers, Bob Norden, Junior Eskam, Ivan Wilson, Gerald Reipl, Leslie Meredith, Kyle Lacy, Joe Crick, Ansel Houk, and Richard Eskam, Harry Romler and Bill Schadegg and they went to Ingalls in a round about way to see about the folks stalled in cars there.
When they reached there around noon, Harold Batman, Jack Evinger, Fred Rowan, Pete Warfield, and several other Ingalls folks with the aid of a half track, and a road maintainer had brought one load of folks in, and were on their way after the rest of them.  Norbert Irsik had also broke thru from his farm to them and had taken some of them to his home.
The Cimarron men waited until all were brought into Ingalls before starting home so they could bring anyone, who might need a doctors attention.  Only one man required a doctor's attention.  Four men were brought back to Cimarron.
Some of the livestock losses reported include: Ivan Davidson lost nine hogs; Tuffy Trainer lost nine head of cows and calves; Clifford Benton lost two calves; Charley Steele lost 50 sheep.
Sheriff Thomas has been a very busy man since the storm started.  Saturday getting very little sleep, as he was either out rescuing someone or on the phone almost continually from Saturday noon to Tuesday noon.  Russell Unruh, who works for Sheriff Thomas at the Mobil Service Station, which is on highway 50 and which was set up as the Sheriff's headquarters, never left the station from Saturday until Tuesday, he didn't get much sleep either as the phone rang continually, with folks trying to get thru to relatives and other folks calling here trying to locate someone who was missing.
Telephone operators, Judy Leatherwood and Irene McConkey did a wonderful job at the telephone office handling the hundreds of emergency calls that came through.  They were on duty steady from Saturday night until 8:00 o'clock Monday morning. 
George and Myra Akin kept the Western Cafe open all of the time, never going home at all Saturday night, and fed a lot of folks who were stranded here. 
Many other folks in Cimarron, too many in fact to mention all of their names, did a wonderful job in helping out here during the emergency.
The following is from the next weeks paper.  
Snow from the Big Blow of 1957, or the spring blizzard that hit this section is about gone but many interesting phases of it are coming to light all the time.  When the Jacksonian came out last week with the statement that there was 25 inches of snow here, everyone laughed.   But those who were in neighboring towns where as much as 18 inches was said to have fallen saw nothing compared to the drifts here in Cimarron. 
A group of helicopters from Ft. Riley and attached to the 5th Army Corps were in Southwest Kansas during the big storm.  One came from Dodge City to Cimarron, where Leigh Warner and Chuck Barhydt boarded it at the ranch west of town and scoured the country looking for lost Warner cattle.  The helicopters were single engine affairs, with a 21 passenger capacity. 
Many tree limbs were broken over town by the heavy wet snow, and quite a few TV antennas were bent to the ground.  The drifts were higher in some places around town than  they had been for a generation.  Orval Harold spent most of the time during the storm at the Sheriff's headquarters helping out on the Sheriff's two way radio.  He said he wasn't to well up on the code, so when no one was around to ask, he reverted to the radio code he had learned in the army.  He said the boy on the other end must have had some army radio training too, he read him all right, and when he had finished said, "O.K. Roger and out." 
City Engineer Charley Hoyt and his crew of workmen were out all during the storm looking for broken power lines that could cause serious trouble, hooking the tractor on the city water well and attending to many other items. 
Tuffy Trainer, who lives in a basement house northeast of town was in town during the storm, and his house was completely covered with snow, he tunneled down to the door and got in after the storm was over.  He said it was mighty cozy down in there, but a little dark.
Mr. and Mrs. Gene Houk and three children of El Paso, Texas, (Gene Houk wrote and it was Amalrillo, Texas) were enroute to Cimarron to visit his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Houk.  The storm caught them near Minneola and they were stranded in their car Saturday night and Sunday.  They came on to Cimarron Tuesday, and Mrs. Jeff Houk returned home with them for a visit.
Gary Drussell, amateur radio operator here in Cimarron, spent most of the time during the storm, contacting people in different areas and sent out 25 messages, with distances varying from Dodge City to Syracuse N. Y. He was on Sunday during the storm from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. and Monday from 1:00 until 9:00 p.m.   He also monitored a number of emergency messages on net.  Gary say he will be glad to take or send any messages that he can without charge.
Mr. and Mrs. George Greenwood and three children left Cimarron Saturday afternoon to return to their home northeast of Cimarron.  When they turned east, they got their car stuck in a snow drift.  Raymond Mitchell came along in his pick-up, and picked them up.  After going about a mile further the pick up slipped off in the ditch, and they were unable to get it out, so the six of them spent from Saturday evening to Monday morning in the pick-up, which was sitting on a slant in the ditch.  The groceries Greenwoods had purchased in town were in their car a mile down the road.  They say it was anything but a pleasant experience. 
Blizzard Items.  
Almost everyone in this area who had cattle, lost from one or two to a great many in the storm.  Frank Renick probably lost about as many as anyone.  Many of his cattle drifted into the Arkansas river and suffocated.  Cimarron was snow bound from Saturday until the following Wednesday morning, and folks who had forgotten how, tried out their baking ability.
Milk ran short and it was rationed to families with babies only.  Out in the country the REA lines were out practically everywhere, and folks who pumped their water by electricity, cooked with electricity, etc. found that they were back to primitive living.
We've heard of two flat roofed rural-homes that had so much snow on them that they threatened to cave in Leonard Flowers of south of Ingalls heard the roof crack and pop, and moved out.
The snow drifted around many doorways so badly that the doors could not be opened, and in several instances folks were shoved thru a window so they could get out and clean the snow from in front of the doors.
Mrs. Albert Kruse who lives about a mile north of the water tank went outside for a minute during the storm, and her door blew shut.  She had no other way to get into the house, and knocked out a window. 
Folks in Cimarron and along the highway, and many in the country, took care of folks who stopped in because they could not go on further.
Mayor Frank Luther says the cooperation of folks in general just couldn't have been better, and he wants to thank everyone of them.   
Max Ames and Ike Kirkland of Dodge City, REA employees were marooned in their pick-up truck 1/2 mile east of the Millard Jantz home from Saturday noon to Monday noon when they walked to the Jantz home.  A helicopter from Dodge City picked the two men up at the Jantz home Tuesday afternoon. 
April 11th Jacksonian.  
Hogs found after two weeks, Still Alive When the big blizzard hit two weeks ago last Saturday a lot of livestock was lost by suffocation from being covered up in snow drifts.  Ivan Davison found a number of dead hogs at his place just east of the Fair Grounds, and decided his registered boar, covered with about 15 feet of snow would also be dead. 
But he didn't know of what good stuff that hog had been made of.  Last Saturday, two weeks after Mr. Pig was covered up, Ivan and his grandson Marion Roseberry were looking after the former's hogs, and hearing a noise in one of the sheds started digging in the snow which by that time had melted down to about a third of its original height.  Soon here came the hog from under the snow- a bit shaky and not nearly so sleek and fat, but evidently otherwise in good shape.