Sunday, February 15, 2009

Snow! 1967

click to enlarge
I had several pictures of "The Big Snow" of 1967, but I could find only this one. It's of the collapsed roof of the Western Auto store located about the middle of Whiskey Row.

I was inspired to post this now because Jarat at Prescott Daily Photo has posted some nice snow photos including one taken of that snow.
In 1967, we were living in Groom Creek at an altitude of approximately 6000 feet, and the day it started snowing I was in town doing my once a week shopping. Snow wasn't that unusual in those days, but this time I noticed that the snow was falling in clumps rather than flakes, threatening to pile up in a hurry. I called the three other Moms in our neighborhood to see if they wanted me to bring their children from school when I picked up my older two who were in third and fourth grades. At that time, Groom Creek still had a school district, but there were so few children, they paid tuition to Washington School.
With my three year old son in tow, I made the rounds of elementary classrooms, taking the kids out about an hour early, bundling them up, and herding them to the truck.

Then I was carefully steering our old pickup packed with nine kids, the youngest in front and oldest in back, up the steep, curved, already snow covered road toward home. (that would be illegal today of course, perhaps rightly so) As I dropped the last of my charges, I noticed the chunks falling from the sky had reached huge proportions, and I was relieved when we made it around the bend and up the steep hill of our driveway where the truck then sat immobilized for about a week.

We were snowed in for eleven days, getting out one time to get into town for groceries and a little Christmas shopping. There was propane in the tank, but it was far from full, so we set the thermostat at sixty degrees and used the fireplace for extra heat. The electricity went off early on and without the electric stove, I cooked in a dutch oven in the fireplace. We melted snow in pans set around the fireplace for drinking water. While many people lost phone service, we were fortunate to have ours most of the time.

At that time, Groom Creek was still primarily a community of summer homes and we got calls from concerned neighbors. One offered a huge woodpile (gratefully accepted) another, the location of their spare key and the contents of their freezer (gratefully declined), and one permanent neighbor who happened to be vacationing in Florida called to say, "If you need booze, break a window!" (gratefully, kept in mind.)

It happened that Disney was filming a movie, something about Ostriches, in Mayer or Dewey. The film crew was renting a lovely old house that had once been an old stage stop, but one cameraman, with his family, rented a house fairly close to us. He was an intrepid athlete who happened to have his skis with him. It was a blessing for a permanent resident, the eighty- three year old author Walt Coburn a diabetic, as the cameraman who skied to town daily, brought back insulin as well as food to keep his film crew buddies going.

One of my worries was our Shetland pony, Cupcake. Although she was covered with thick woolly coat I fretted because she refused to go into her stall to stay dry. At some point during the storm, the snow turned wet and slushy. I worried that Cupcake would turn into an icicle. Out we went to shovel out three or so feet of corral gate, feed room, and shop so that we could put the feed into the shop and Cupcake into the tiny feed room. There was a partition between the feed room and the stall with a manger on the stall side. The next morning, we found a bone dry Cupcake in the corral. She had clambered up over the three or four foot partition, through the manger into her stall. I still think we saved her, as that morning, all the trees were uncased in ice and limbs were crashing down everywhere.
We had cut our Christmas tree a week or so before the snow started, so we brought it in and decorated it in it's usual front window setting. The day we got out to shop the electricity was still off, but when we rounded the bend just at dusk the tree was shining out from it's place in the front window, lights reflected off the snow, with all the radient beauty of Christmas.
When the second storm hit we were snowed in again for about another week, but the roads were cleared by Christmas day.
Here's a photo of a snowy Pioneer Home taken in 1967.


  1. What a great story of the "big snow of '67". My hubby was out on snow shoes on Mount Francis trying to get all the telephones working again. He could only drive up so far and then had to hike the rest of the way carrying everything to repair the lines on his back. I'd love to hear other stories from back then. Thanks so much for sharing your memories and photo!

  2. I've been thinking its the people and their memories that make a place. Thanks for the story.

  3. I remember that snow...I was newly married and my hubby and I stopped in Prescott to visit my Granmother who lived on Mount Vernon. Never seen so much snow in my life!
    Great post..................

  4. Aaahhh.. the good neighbors always offer booze. :)

  5. Jarat, it was the hard work of guys like your hubby that kept everyone else going. I should have mentioned that because I was thinking it when I recalled the joy of seeing that lit tree.. They manned the equipment to dig us out, and hiked the mountains, every bit as brave as Weaver or Walker, to repair the phone and electric lines.

  6. Changes, you had to see it to believe it! I'm glad you did, and thanks for your comment here:)

    Tombo, indeed! Thanks for stopping by and your comment:)

  7. artinthequad, I left you a length comment that didn't take, so I'll try it again....
    You are so right! It's personal memories that make the history of a place come to life and preserve it for future generations. I hope to feature "guest" articles here by people who can remember the forties, fifties, and sixties...hint hint:)

  8. Thank you, Linda, for an in-person report on that famous winter -- it is the first that I have ever read! I do hope you find the rest of the pictures, as I'd really like to have a better idea of what that great storm was like for the people who were living here at the time.

  9. GJ, I'll put some feelers out, see if I can interest anyone else in contributing photos or stories. The Courier did a special edition of snow memories on the tenth or twentieth anniversary. That must be in the archives.

  10. My family and I were living on a ranch in Skull Valley during the "big snow of '67". My husband would drive the tractor to the general store every morning, stopping at the neighbors homes on the way, to pick up their necessities list. He'd deliver their needs on the way home. I was penned up with my 3 kids for 11 days, which made secretly making their Christmas gifts difficult. Oh for the good old days!

  11. Great story. Glad things turned out well.

  12. azlaydey, thanks so much for sharing your memories of the big snow! That's just what I'm hoping more people will do.
    If you'd like to do a "guest" post here a story about living on a ranch in Skull Valley or any memory of living in the Prescott area and maybe a picture or two, let me know. I think you can email me from my profile or give me a call at 445-1277.

    Thanks, traveled and thanks for stopping by.

  13. I remember that snow storm well. We rode our horses to the store and the post office. My grandparents were visiting from New Jersey. Disney was filming "The Feather Farm". It was a Sunday night, Wonderful World of Disney movie that aired in Oct. 1969. It was filmed at Coyote Springs Ranch located at the base of Mignus Mountain. A helicopter dropped food to the film crew and ostriches. My parents owned the ranch but we lived in Prescott.

  14. Snow of 67' I was a bag boy at Thumb Butte "Fry's" but Mike Sherman and I were getting $5.50 and hr for roofs when not bagging groceries. That was great times for a 16 yr old! Someone was on top of Fry's shoveling snow and fell thru onto a customer, never really found out if she sued or not.
    If I remember correctly, we had to stay a few days extra to make up for lost time at Prescott High.