The Blizzard of ’58

Snowy Poplar Street Richland looking north from area of Church Street

We moved to W. Main Street in Richland, about halfway up the hill, in November 1957. It was the first house that my parents bought, and we ended up staying there until 1964.

Anyway, during the first winter that we were there, I remember a major blizzard such that the snow was piled up to my shoulders. Of course, I was only eight years old at the time.

My main memory is that my mother took my sister and me out for a walk; maybe we were just going to see what the town looked like, covered in snow as it was, or perhaps we were going to see my aunt Joan (my favorite aunt, as you may recall) who lived on the other side of town (which was only about six blocks or so, Richland being a rather small borough).

The streets were impassable with all that snow. In fact the sidewalks were nearly impassable as well, although most folks had shoveled at least a narrow path, so we could proceed in single file. I was in absolute awe of the huge piles of snow, never having seen anything like it previously.

Not sure if we made it to Joan’s house, but I do recall we got at least as far as the playground, which was amazing to see that nearly full block of white expanse.

The other thing I recall is that Richland was completely snowed in for the better part of a week, with no access in or out via the roads. Emergency supplies were flown in via a whirly bird (a nickname for helicopters in those days).

Temperature chart

So are my memories real? After doing a bit of searching, I think they are, and the blizzard probably occurred on February 15, 1958. This followed some extremely cold weather that lasted at least a week.

Take a look at the temperature chart from the Lebanon Daily News of Friday February 14, 1958.

An then there is the article from February 22, written by the father of one of my high school classmates, although in 1958, that was still several years in my future and at that time, I had not heard of Maryann Shelhamer, let alone her father, the star news reporter James (I was not a big reader of the newspaper at age eight). Anyway, he reports that about 13 inches fell with high winds exacerbating the situation.

Incidentally, the picture at the top of this post is undated, so probably not from this particular storm. It purports to be Poplar Street, looking north from Church Street.


Shelhamer article 2 22 58 p1


Shelhamer article 2 22 58 p2









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