Snow, Snow, and More Snow

Winter in northern Nevada this year has been underwhelming to say the least. The lack of precipitation has been almost as striking as years where the area is pummeled by extreme weather. As shown in this post on Operation Haylift, some winters stick in the memory more than others. 1931-1932 was another memorable winter.

At the end of January and beginning February 1932, a series of massive snow storms hit Nevada, shutting down travel throughout the northern part of the state. This shutdown spanned well over a month. Substantial snow accumulation accompanied by freezing temperatures led to a difficult situation for individuals and businesses alike.

One company particularly affected by the snowstorm was the Nevada Company, based out of Austin, Nevada, which held interests in many different industries from mining to railroads. Two of its largest interests were the Nevada Central Railroad and the Nevada Central Motor Lines/Hiskey Stages. These companies provided much of the transportation of people and goods for that part of the state, including the mail service.

J. M. Hiskey, general manager of the Nevada Central Motor Lines, sent a series of telegrams to individuals describing the extreme weather. His telegrams and letters paint a vivid picture of the dangers as well as the isolation caused by the storms.






  1. I remember riding the Hiskey Stage from when I was a kid in Ely. I don’t know where I went, but I sure do remember the name. Great blog.

  2. This is a great blog. As for the frozen rails, described in Hiskey’s letter as the first occurence in memory, I’d like to mention the following news item that proves this statement short-sighted:
    Los Angeles Herald, Volume 33, Number 108, 28 January 1890
    The Railroad Situation Anything But Hopeful.
    Miles of Frozen Slush to Be Removed With Pick and Shovel—Snowplows Helpless,
    Associated Press Dispatches to the Herald
    San Francisco, January 27.—The situation at a late hour tonight as regards the snow blockade on the Central Pacific mid Oregon lines, is not as favorable as one would hope for. On the former, while the snow has almost all been cleared from the track in the Sierra mountains, a new obstacle has arisen. This side of Reno, Nevada, between Tunnel 13 and Verdi, the snow molted into slush and has now frozen into solid ice. The track is covered with this formation for twenty-five miles. It is thought also that the same condition exists for a short distance west of these points and further up the mountain. Such ice must be removed with pick and shovel. Trains will, therefore, probably not reach this city before at least Thursday night.
    There is little change on the Oregon division. Snow is falling to-night on the Siskiyou mountains, and there is cause to fear it will shift over to the Sierra Nevadas, which would lengthen the blockade.
    As to the financial loss that is being sustained by the Southern Pacific Company, Superintendent Fillmore is authority for the statement that the daily losses of the company from all sources are $75,000, and that the total loss by blockades, washouts, and loss of revenue from diminished freight and passengers will reach nearly a million dollars.
    Thirty-five hundred men are now employed in the mountains and repairing washouts.
    All Eastern mail sent from here and neighboring towns up to the 20th instant, excepting that of the 15th, has now reached its destination. The latter is now en route East via the Atlantic and Pacific,

  3. Pingback: Mother Nature’s Fury, or Mazuma, Nevada and the Cloudburst that Ended the Town | Special Collections & University Archives

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