Winter Back In The Day

Now that Mother Nature is in the midst of preparing her annual gift of frosty snowstorms, I am reminded of the story about some students complaining about how cold it was, standing outside in the morning waiting for the school bus.  Their grandfather, hearing their complaints, was not sympathetic.  “When I was a boy” he said, “we didn’t have school buses.  We had to walk to school in the snow.  It was five miles–uphill–both ways”.

That may have been a little bit of a stretch, or selective memory, but certainly a different time and place then we experience today.  I was reading an article the other day that addressed the early days in Maine.  I had never given much thought to how people got around back at the turn of the century. It turns out that they welcomed it.  In the winter, carts and carriages were turned into sleighs by substituting runners for wheels.  However, the most favorable conditions for sleighs were not clear streets, but instead streets covered with packed snow. So, before the invention of the plow, large rollers, filled with rocks were pulled by horses or oxen, packing the snow instead of removing it.

snow roller

By the mid 1800’s, several “inventors” had come up with their own crude versions of the first snow plows, but they were not developed and used commercially until Milwaukee employed them in 1862.

first snow plow

By the 1920’s, the advent of the automobile changed the game substantially.  Hard packed snow was no longer an ideal condition and spreading salt in an effort to melt the snow fell short of the need for clean streets.   So the nation saw the introduction of the first car mounted snow plows, and of course, as they say, the rest is history.

car snow plow

Oh, and about that walking five miles to school thing, it turns out that not everyone experienced that.  It seems that some towns did in fact have school buses. But you still had to wait in the cold for them.



About oldmainer

I am a retired manager living in Southern Maine and a would be writer of poetry, narratives, short stories, and random opinions, and that's how Oldmainer was born. Recently, I decided to try an experiment. I added photography to the mix, using only a cheap cell phone with a limited camera and the editing software that came with it, and added the blog site Inklings at to showcase the results. So, feel free to use whatever you find interesting or worthy, but please honor the terms of my copyright when and if you do. They may not be much, but they are still a piece of me. I appreciate your checking me out and hope that you find something that will encourage a return visit. Thanks for stopping by.
This entry was posted in Aging, Children, Family, Generations, History, Kids, Life, Maine, Memories, Perspective, Reflection, Seasons, Snow, Winter and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Winter Back In The Day

  1. George says:

    Those are some pretty interesting photos. A different time, for sure.


  2. scifihammy says:

    Very interesting to see the development of the snow plough. I like the horse drawn ones best though! 😀
    I grew up in the north of England and tho we got snow most winters, it wasn’t as much as in your photos.
    But I Did have to stand at the bus stop in the freezing cold snow waiting for a bus (just a normal one – no school buses in UK) to get to school. I waited a whole hour once, as the buses “missed” in bad weather. Fun times! 😀


  3. Love the last photo of what looks more like a smokehouse than a school bus! Winter in rural Vermont was probably very similar. I have a few photos from Maine on my blog. No winter scenes, but you might enjoy them:


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