Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Monster Blizzard of 1913 and Giveaway

Blogger: Amber Schamel

Denver 1913 Blizzard
Used by permission of Denver Public Library
Colorado is known for lots of snow, but the blizzard of 1913 was not our regular winter blizzard. In fact, it still holds the record yet today. I had a great time researching the event for my latest book. It was so much fun to research a city I grew up near and knew so well to see how it looked 100 years ago.

December 1913 decided to make a grand entrance. A light snow and rain began to fall on the 1st but left only an inch or two on December 2nd. The storm died down on the morning of the 3rd, and everyone thought it was just the typical storm. But in the late afternoon, the clouds thickened. Renewed with unforeseen vigor, the blizzard let loose during the night of December 3. The massive storm system deposited over 45.7 inches of snow in a matter of two or three days. But the biggest problem in Colorado is not merely the amount of snow, but the blowing winds that create monster drifts that could engulf livestock, cars, houses, and nearly anything in its way.
A boy on Skis
Used by permission of Denver Public Library
The snow was heavy and wet dumping what is estimated to be 38,887,619,004 pounds of water. Structures collapsed, all transportation came to a screeching halt, and survival became priority. The greatest concern was for the poor population that wouldn’t have enough coal to keep warm and couldn’t get out to find more.

Georgetown, Colorado was hit the hardest by the blizzard with 86 inches of snow.

But even with all that disruption, Coloradans didn’t lose their sense of humor. Denver Post Headlines claimed “Shimmering White Stops Activity and Everyone Jollifies!” Apparently somebody was jollifying, because they’d built a snowman in the driver’s seat of someone’s stranded vehicle, making for one of the cutest pictures in the historical record.

Used by permission of the
Denver Public Library

One of the most interesting things I discovered during my research of this event was the snow removal process. Unfortunately, Denver during 1913 had no supply of diesel plow trucks as they do today. So they had to employ a different method.
Using wagons to move snow.
Used by permission of Denver Public Library
Since the entire city was shut down, the tramway hired any man who would work to come dig out the snow. Men swarmed the streets, shoveling snow into barrels, dumping into wagons, and hauling outside the city or to any open space that could accommodate the slush. 

You can see the whole collection of pictures on the Denver Public Library Website.
In the long run, the blizzard made a huge positive impact on the Colorado economy. Skiing was just coming into fashion when the storm hit, and the massive amounts of snow in Colorado made it a prime place to learn. The 1913 blizzard is credited with kicking off the ski industry in the state.

The historic blizzard plays a big part in my newest book, Solve by Christmas which just released yesterday! Click here to check it out on Amazon. 

AND I'll be giving away one ebook copy to someone who leaves me a comment today! Tell me about the most extreme weather you've experienced for your chance to win! 
 Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  Her title, Dawn of Liberty, was awarded the 2017 CSPA Book of the Year award in Historical Fiction. She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!


  1. Hi Ammber, interesting that a blizzard was the catalyst for the beginning of skiing.

    My most extreme weather I have experienced was in 1986 when I was moving from California to Missouri by myself. I had never seen it snow before but going into Flagstaff, AZ it started snowing and I had to put chains on my car (so I was told). I then spun out twice going into Winslow, AZ and ended up getting a hotel room and spending the night. My next day I made it as far as Tucomcari, NM but then the highway was closed and I had to get another hotel room and spend two days there until the roads were opened again (the previous day, 24 inches of snow fell within 24 hours). When I finally got back on the road I hit black ice going into Amarillo, TX and almost went over an overpass. But by the grace of God I was saved and my car spun into the median of the road. I eventually arrived in Missouri, safe and sound, but my nerves were frayed to say the least.

    Cindy W.
    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

    1. I am so sorry Amber, my keyboard is so touchy I see I added an extra "m" in your name. My apologies.

    2. Wow! So glad the Lord was watching out for you, Cindy. Driving in snow can get really bad.

  2. Hello Amber, Great post about the monster blizzard of 1913. I've experienced some blizzards here in Illinois. In 2014 we had one in February that even the hospital had to close some of their clinics, courthouses, businesses, etc. Other blizzards with white out conditions has been known living in Illinois--20++ inches of snow. It was like driving through walls of snow on roads once they were clear. At least they have not been like out East or Colorado.

    Congratulations on the release of Solve by Christmas. The blizzard setting in Colorado is intriguing.

    Marilynridgway78 at gmail dot com

    1. I know what you're talking about! Most of our blizzards aren't so bad. But some of them shut everything down.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Amber. The first storm that came to my mind was in Colorado in 2003, I believe. We were living and working at 9500 ft in the Sangre de Cristo Mountians at a retreat center. We had a group in from Oklahoma for the weekend. They were to leave on Sunday afternoon but never left until Wednesday! Needless to say, we were almost out of food by The storm had dropped over 48" of snow in a just over 24 hours. We finally got out of our driveway on Friday. My hubby was the chef and had to get to the kitchen, so he had managed to make a trail from our house to the lodge where the guests were and where we ate. We walked through this 'tunnel' where you could just see over the top. It certainly was a storm to remember!
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    bettimace at gmail dot com

  4. Hi Amber! I grew up in Illinois and I remember some of the ice-storms we would get in the winter where it would coat the trees with about an inch of ice. You could hear them crackling when the wind blew! I live on the Oregon coast now & the most extreme weather we can get is the high wind gusts & driving, heavy rain. It rarely snows here, but I remember one year we did get quite a bit for our area and shut the town down for almost a week. Since we don't have snow plows, the roads weren't cleared and you couldn't get anywhere. Also, we missed the big hurricane strength wind storm in 2007 (up to 120 mph) that knocked out power for about 5 days straight! We had just moved from OR to IL to be closer to my family that summer (we only stayed two years in IL though). I'd say we've been pretty blessed to not have too many crazy weather stories to tell!

    I liked reading the history of the monster blizzard of 1913. That's a lot of snow, yikes! Funny seeing horse-driven plows back then, but at least they had something to help. Thank you for the giveaway chance to win a copy of "Solve By Christmas"

    teamob4 (at) gmail (dot) com

    1. I never realized IL winters could be so bad. Thanks for sharing!