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1888 a Disastrous Year of Bizzards:the Children's Blizzard and the White Hurricane

We can't control Mother Nature but perhaps we can be guardians of climate control.

1888 Great Blizzard

1888 Great Blizzard

1883 Eruption of Krakato

1883 Eruption of Krakato

The Five Worst Blizzards In United States

Here are the five worst blizzards in the United States:

  • 1888 The Great Blizzard, also known as The White Hurricane, 250 died, and one of most severe blizzards ever recorded in U.S. history
  • 1888 The Children's Blizzard, 235 died, and of those 213 were children on their way home from school caught unprepared
  • 1922 The Knickerbocker Blizzard. A theatre's roof collapsed in D.C., killing 98 and injuring 133.
  • 1940 The Armistice Day Blizzard. The day 85 duck hunters were caught on the river and perished.
  • 1975 The Super Bowl Blizzard. Over 100,000 farm animals perished, and 58 people died. In addition, the blizzard spawned tornadoes in many states, with damages in the millions.

What Is A Blizzard

According to the United States Weather Bureau, a blizzard has to last at least three hours, produce lots of snow, and have winds of 35 MPH. They are extremely dangerous costly in both lives and property. They cause hypothermia frostbite, leading to amputations, carbon monoxide poisoning, and heart attacks.

From 1883 to 1888 had a series of the worst blizzards in history. In 1883, the eruption of Krakatoa in the South Pacific was thought to be a contributing factor to weather conditions. The explosion released large amounts of sulfur dioxide gas high in the atmosphere that circulated the earth for years.

It must be remembered that this was before radio, TV, or the internet, so warning about pending weather conditions was nonexistent. The United States Weather Bureau was not established until 1890.

In January, the sun was shining, lulling people to be out and about. It wasn't long before impending disaster would strike, sending temperatures to 40 degrees below freezing. The blizzard covered Iowa, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Idaho. This would be called the Children's Blizzard. The children had left for school and were caught off guard. The lives of 213 children were lost in the storm.

The heroic story of teacher Minnie Freeman, age 19, somehow saved her students by leashing them together and walking 3/4 mile in freezing weather and howling winds to the nearest farm where they were welcomed with blankets and a warm fire. Minnie became such a hero she received over 80 marriage proposals.

Minnie Freeman And Her Students 1888

Minnie Freeman And Her Students 1888

1888-a-disastrous-year-of-bizzardsthe-childrens-blizzard-and-the-white-hurricane
Minnie Freeman Leading Her Students To Safety

Minnie Freeman Leading Her Students To Safety

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The White Hurricane

Two months after the Children's Blizzard, another hit in March of 1888, striking the northeast, paralyzing the coast from the Chesapeake Bay to the Providence of Canada. Snow fell, creating drifts of 20-50 feet. Millions in damages, people froze on the streets, no trains for days, hundreds of boats sunk with the weight of the snow, livestock froze where they stood. Winds were over 85 mph causing a complete whiteout. Wall Street closed for three days, lobbies of hotels were around run with cots and people stranded. Even Mark Twain was left stranded in his hotel.

Roscoe Conkling (1829-1886), a lawyer, politician, and U.S. senator was the most powerful man in America at the time, and the president's right-hand man was caught in the blizzard. Conkling was physically fit, believing he could walk from his law office to his apartment, where he made it as far as Union Square and collapsed. Unfortunately, he caught pneumonia and died. This was before antibiotics which could have saved him. There is a statue of him at 23rd and Madison in New York City in his honor.

The White Hurrican became the most widely photographed disaster in U.S. history.

1888 New York

1888 New York

Roscoe Gosling

Roscoe Gosling

After The 1888 Blizzard

As a result of this disaster, officials realized how vulnerable utilities were, and a prudent decision was made to protect them by moving them underground. This marked the beginning of the New York subway, with the building beginning in 1900 and opening in 1904.

Knickerbocker Theater Roof Collapse, D.C.

Knickerbocker Theater Roof Collapse, D.C.

Duck Hunters Caught  In 1888 Blizzard

Duck Hunters Caught In 1888 Blizzard

Children's Blizzard 1888

Children's Blizzard 1888

Sources Used

https://www.nytimes/2018/10/03

https://historydaily.org/minnie-freeman-hero

https://www.briticanna.com/great-blizzard

https://great disasters.co.uk/the-school-house-blizzard


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